[credit provider=”Ann Althouse | Flickr” url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/althouse/82625109/”]
The United States Postal Service continues to hemorrhage cash, losing $3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012 alone. Its demise is constantly being predicted in the media. It’s derided as inefficient, outdated, and obsolete.
Meanwhile, the price of a stamp has actually fallen in real terms since 2001, while increasing about 25 per cent without adjusting for inflation, from 34 cents in 2001 to 45 cents this year.
In the same 11-year time period, in which the cost of stamps fell in the U.S., the price of a stamp in the U.K. has risen 70 per cent in real terms, and an astounding 122 per cent unadjusted for inflation.
Here’s a selection of countries ranked by the cost of a single first-class stamp. From The Economist:
United States: $0.45
While Congress recently allowed the USPS to increase the cost of a stamp by a whopping one cent, the United Kingdom raised it’s first-class stamp price by 22 cents in March, to 96 cents per. Stamps now cost more than double in the U.K. compared with what they cost here.
As you might suspect, The Royal Mail Group is doing much better than the USPS. It turned a profit of about $62 million in 2011, while the USPS lost about $8.5 billion in 2010, and would have lost over $10 billion in 2011 if it hadn’t deferred making payments to a retirement fund (if officially lost “only” $5.1 billion last year). Oddly enough, the Royal Mail Group is actually directly owned by the government of the United Kingdom, while the USPS is a “quasi government” organisation that is “controlled” by congress.