Capitalism: You’re Doing It Wrong

If there’s one thing Americans are really good at, it’s capitalism. They will think they invented it and will defend it to the death of the Indonesian kids that make their clothes (that I happily buy for a very good price, don’t be offended). Whereas christians have their bible, capitalists have a free market. In the free market, goods are being sold at the price that is dictated by many factors, among which competition, quality, demand and many other things (for instance: the faith of the dude that empties your garbage can). You may wonder where this could go wrong.

The US mail, that is. As you know, the concept of mail is pretty straight-forward. You write a letter, put it in an envelope and use stamps to pay for having it delivered. The amount of stamps may vary on how much work it would be for the delivery. Heavy letters will require more stamps, as would letters that have to go further away. A good rule of thumb when setting up a mail system, would be to have the price be determined by the amount of work. Three stamps worth of labor would be three times more expensive than one stamp worth of labor. Also, US mail originally doesn’t really have competition when it comes to letters (if it did before email, please correct me), so competitive pricing wouldn’t matter.

Three forever stamps will cost you a whoppin’ $1.75 ($0.58 each), two forever stamps are $1.25 ($0.63 each).

If you want to make something out of delivering mail, you don’t give people a choice between paying 58 cents or 63 cents per stamp. What also doesn’t help is giving both choices the ‘forever’ mark. Why not have the cheaper stamps printed on banana peels, so they’ll expire? What idiot buys two forever stamps because he is afraid he will never use the third one before the sun goes out? If they’re equal in quality, equal in manufacturing cost (as in: delivering mail) and will never expire, then why on earth would you give a discount? Also: why has nobody in the history of US mail noticed handing out cheaper stamps that will last as long as mankind may backfire when service costs outgrow the price of a forever stamp bought in 1880?

What was the last time you sent someone a letter?

What is the oldest forever stamp you have?



6 thoughts on “Capitalism: You’re Doing It Wrong

  1. I can’t remember the last letter I sent. When I moved into the house I’m currently renting, I was offended – OFFENDED! – that the land-lady wanted me to mail her my rent check. I pay bills online, you neanderthal! I hand-delivery her the rent check instead. I haven’t bought stamps in so many years I can’t even remember what I paid for them.

    • I do my finances online, but prefer to one-way communicate with companies and banks by letter. Try cancelling some subscribtion over the phone; it will take ages, a lot of money (by calling a special number) and they might try and change your mind. I have a standardized letter that demands they erase me from their system and how I would like a reply mentioning they actually read my letter. Contrasting emails, the approach has never failed. I think letters make more of an impact. Stamps here cost 50 cents a piece, by the way, but I mainly buy international stamps, which are more expensive.

  2. I tend to write letters when I write to utility companies or banks here in the UK, since somehow one can be that much ruder in a letter and they never bother dealing with their emails anyway. Sending letters and cards has become very expensive in the UK and Germany, probably because such huge unwieldy organisations work in such a wastefull way that the general public has to pay for it.

    • I think because writing a letter has a sophisticated feeling to it, the rudeness is easily overlooked. It has become very expensive here as well. Probably because prices are not the same since the 1950’s.

      • I wonder how time travelling Dr Who copes with these confusing pricing strategies of intergalactic post offices? I love writing rude letters to utility companies, makes me feel like Zena the Warrior Princess fighting for the oppressed. Hey, in my imagination I can be anything I like, even if in real life I’m a wrinkly who believes the pen is mightier than Zena’s sword.

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