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Start stocking up on those forever stamps

They’re about to be a bargain.

Fighting to survive a deepening financial crisis, the Postal Service said Tuesday it wants to increase the price of first-class stamps by 2 cents — to 46 cents — starting in January. Other postage costs would rise as well.

[…]

While the cost of a first-class stamp would go up, people who bought Forever stamps at the current 44 cents or at lower prices would still be able to use them without paying the difference.

Officials also said they plan a new design for Forever stamps, which currently have am image of the Liberty Bell. New Forever stamps will have images of evergreen trees. All Forever stamps would remain valid.

Forever stamps are pretty much all we buy these days, so we’ll be prepared for when this happens. I figure the rate goes up two cents every couple of years, so this is no big deal. What struck me was this:

Post office finances are complicated by a requirement that the agency make annual payments of more than $5 billion to fund future health benefits for retirees, something not required of other government agencies. The post office avoided financial disaster last year only after Congress allowed it to delay $4 billion of that payment.

The postal inspector general also contends that the Postal Service has been overcharged billions of dollars for retirement benefits for employees who worked for the old Post Office Department before it was converted to the Postal Service in 1970.

I probably should have known about these things, but if I did I’d forgotten them. The latter seems like lawsuit material; the former, I hope, will eventually be ameliorated by health care reform. Hope they can hold on till that happens.

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