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PRICE  HISTORY -- 1st CLASS LETTER RATES

July 1, 1885                     2
November 2, 1917         3
July 1, 1919                    2   THE GREAT DEPRESSION of the DIRTY THIRTIES
July 6, 1932                    3     With inflation zero or less (deflation),
                                                 postage did not change for 26 years.
August 1, 1958               4
January 7, 1963             5
January 7, 1968             6
May 16, 1971                 8
March 2, 1974             10
December 31, 1975   13
May 29, 1978              15
March 22, 1981          18
November 1, 1981     20
February 17, 1985     22
April 3, 1988               25
February 3, 1991       29
January 1, 1995         32
January 10, 1999       33
January 7, 2001         34
June 30, 2002            37
January 8, 2006         39
May 14, 2007             41
May 12, 2008             42
May 11, 2009             44     With inflation zero during the Great Recession,
January 22, 2012       45    postage changed every single year.
January 27, 2013       46    It went up, even though interest rates were almost zero.
January 26, 2014       49    This instability is a sign of conflict
April 10,   2016          47    and growing instability in the society.
January 22, 2017       49   
-                                      -         


http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/rates-historical-statistics.htm



MORE  PRICE  HISTORY - RECENT 1st CLASS LETTER RATES

+3¢ to 41¢ on 14May07; increment is 17¢/oz & Forever Stamps start.
Up 1 cent  to 42¢ 12May08. 
Early 2008, $5B Forevers sold, $5B more printed for the May08 rush.

Nonmachinable surcharge increased 17¢ to 20¢ May08
Up  2 cents from $0.42 -- 44¢ on 11May09.
Incrementing 20¢, not 17¢, on 17April2011.  

NOTE ABOUT THIS INCREMENT:
In April 2011,  the 1st class letter increment increased from 17 to 20¢/oz, but not the 1oz stamp
along with the usual mid-year parcel rate  (shipping service)  changes.  Letter changes were supposed to be in January. 
After this embarrassing irregularity, the per-oz increment was untouched until Jan2014.

Up 1 cent from $0.44 on 22Jan2012.
Up 1 cent from $0.45 on 27Jan2013.
Up 3 cents from $0.46 on 26Jan2014.
Incrementing 21¢, not 20¢, on 26Jan2014.
Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty") 20¢ -> 21¢ 26Jan2014.
Incrementing 22¢, not 21¢, on 31May2015.
Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty") also increased 21¢ -> 22¢  31May2015.
Increment back to 21¢ on 10Apr2016; Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope") also back to 21¢
    (Expiration of two-year exemption to inflation-matched rate increases granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission;
     their grant of an "exigent surcharge" in 2014.)
Increment and nonmachinable surcharged unchanged in the price increase of 22Jan2017.
    Increases were in 1st class (everything: letters, flats, small parcels) and Media Mail.
    All increases weighted small items harder (more expensive) and left the end of the USPS weight scale more competitive.
Up 1
¢ from 49¢ on 21Jan2018, but per-oz increment and bad envelope penalty both left at 21¢


BACKGROUND

People to whom our society has handed success would like to weaken the USPS and profit from making its business their own.  For these people, Success for Self is clean fun, because they have trouble seeing anyone else.  

The top-ranking USPS leadership is dominated by corporate executives from shipping and mass marketing (junk mail) industries.  Below the Board of Governors (vacant, no appointments under President Trump) , high-level USPS executives enjoyed a revolving door to the shipping industry, retiring early into new careers at triple salary. 
  The revolving door between government and corporations catapults industry people into top government positions, and lets government people retire into new -- and lucrative -- industry jobs.  No one at the USPS who defended  the USPS against industry competition -- or led the USPS forward to success in eCommerce -- would ever retire to a "second life" in an industry job at triple his former salary.  

With everyone playing his small part, big changes rolled out the door.  Postal rates were characterized by abolition of flat rate service, by increasing numbers of zones, by more frequent and less uniform rate changes -- some small enough to make any marketing or branding expert wonder if they were necessary at all.   In the new era of service and survival, mailing became impossible without computer access for on-line support, without a trip to ever-shrinking numbers of ever less-local post offices.  Using complexity and instability of rates to weaken the USPS is not dramatically powerful, but it is working.  Rate complexity and instability is easily rendered unstoppable by invoking questionable change at every opportunity in the name -- shout it and be proud! -- of saving the Postal Service from bankruptcy.  Rate structure complexity and instability is not a strong force for the destruction of the United States Postal Service, but it is working. 

Another important rescue to save the USPS from bankruptcy is the closure of mail distribution centers -- enough of them to prevent one stamp on an ordinary envelope from getting overnight delivery.  Shout "Saving them from bankruptcy!" until FedEx Overnight is the only show in town.  Delivering an ordinary envelope the next day and "overnight delivery"  by FedEx are not much different, except that one costs $21.05 to $36.05 ("FedEx Envelope" up to 8 oz, 2013) and the other costs 92 cents (3 oz First Class business envelope 2018).

The availability of enough bankruptcy crises to move ahead with needed rescues was guaranteed by requiring the USPS to fully fund  an account to cover the projected retirement and health benefit costs of postal retirees not yet hired at the time the legislation (The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, below) was passed.   No other government agency or private enterprise must pre-fund even one year in advance, whereas this Congressional "enhancement" act mandates that the USPS must pre-fund employee benefits decades into the future.  And it worked.  In the decade after passage, the legislation was credited with causing 90 percent of the red ink.  The red ink losses were called "revenue" shortfalls, and rates were raised to make the revenue good again.   The line at the bottom was red, but far above it, the new line that made it red was not the revenues line. 

During the Trump-Pence administration, Board of Governors appointments were not made, in line with an "empty government" and executive "deconstruction" policy to weaken not just the USPS, but every Cabinet-level department.  Trump could not live next to the ideological genius Steve Bannon and threw him out.  Bannon left to work on returning as the country's successor to Trump, someone with a better focus on the use of power. 


2006:  The "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act" is 85 pages long: 
The Constitution calls for a postal service as necessary for democracy, and orders us to create one for ourselves.  If the USPS must serve where people occur but profit does not, then all should contribute to provide for the few.  Everything averages out for the better when the country pulls together.

Where the Postal Service has pricing power (it is practically the only one carrying letters), the Congressional Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act lays on regulations and procedures that increase everything but transparency.   The service sector less regulated is the package sector most in direct competition with corporate shipping giants.  Let it play out by itself.  Let them price themselves out of the market.  

This shipping regulatory strategy is so easy to comprehend  that ending  public hearings in Congress was not enough to protect it, and the suppression of public hearings in the USPS itself had also to be written into the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.  In this way, the Act fulfills a Congressional tradition we have all learned to count on: any legislation named "accountability" will shield subterfuge, and any legislation named "enhancement" is aimed at destroying the subject of its attentions.

In 2016, the Postal Regulatory Commission failed to complete on time its ten year review of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act's pricing regimen. 




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Postage Stamp: UN Formation on 25 April 1945

Current USPS Postage Rate Charts - simple tables
1st Class Letters pricing history -- Revised  4Feb2014  9July2015--I'm late since 31May; 31Jan2017 26Jan2018