December 28, 2006, - 9:32 am
By Debbie Schlussel
This week, the U.S. Postal Service released results of yet another meaningless, irrelevant survey. The quasi-governmental delivery monopoly announced that the most popular stamp collected since 1988 is the 1993 Elvis stamp (the one featuring young, trim Elvis, not drug-addicted, bloated Elvis).
Almost every major news media outlet reported the results of the survey. Apparently, every year the USPS surveys 10,000 homes to determine the most popular stamps saved by collectors.
But who really cares which are the most collected? The Post Service already monitors sales of stamps. The computerized registers and systems at your local post office are carefully monitored by Postal Service marketing and products execs for the most popular products. And it doesn’t let those statistics dictate its production of stamps, anyway. For example, sales of the Islamic Eid stamp are very, very low. But the USPS continues to produce them, anyway.
And they aren’t making any more of the Elvis stamps. You can’t buy them online at the USPS site, either.
The USPS, the pensions of which are still borne by the Treasury Dept. a/k/a U.S. taxpayers (according to the Wall Street Journal), is still a quasi-governmental body. It still has a monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail. It still keeps raising the prices of stamps.
Part of the costs of all of that includes these silly surveys. Doing a survey of 10,000 homes every year is costly–a non-competitive cost that the USPS, now a loser to e-mail and faxes, can’t really afford.
So, why does the Postal Service continue these surveys? If it’s about publicity, how does a stamp–the Elvis stamp–that’s no longer for sale at your local post office help sales? It’s just like past wastes of money in the name of empty marketing, employed by the USPS: the Millenium countdown clocks in every post office in 1999, the endless sponsorships (in the multi-millions) of Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team.
Time for the Postal Service to stop wasting money on stupid surveys. It’s already lost most of its market share to technology. And it simply can’t afford to waste money on silly pop culture surveys.
As much as I like Elvis and his stamp, the Postal Service needs to wake up. The USPS has a “Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee” and encourages Americans to write with advice and ideas. Time for citizens to advise the Postal Service to stop the fruitless surveys and endless waste.
Read my 2001 column on silly USPS wastes of money, subsidized by your first-class stamp and tax money.
Read Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal editorial on USPS legislation just passed by Congress.
By the way, did you know that Elvis was Jewish? According to Jewish law, you are a Jew if you were born to a Jewish mother (or if you convert to the religion). Elvis’ mother and all the women on her side back to his great-great grandmother, Nancy Tackett Burdine, were Jews. She originally had a Jewish star on her grave’s headstone. And Elvis even got a nosejob. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Tags: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, Congress, Lance Armstrong, Nancy Tackett Burdine, news media outlet, Olympic, Post Service, Read Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Postal Service, United States, Wall Street Journal