Someone recently opined that the Postal Service is always having problems. I heartily agree. As long as we’re subsidizing a national postal service, we might as well angle for one that we, as a nation, can be proud of.

Here are my suggestions to the USPS for how to become relevant again:

  • Double your rate for direct mail. Junk mail is overused and therefore obviously underpriced. Raising rates would decrease the volume of junk mail, meaning lighter delivery vehicles and better profit margins on the same revenue. Plus it would give Americans a bit of relief.
  • Simplify your rate schedule. The current schedule is far too fine-grained. For example, make a single rate for all letter-size mail, regardless of weight. If that means a 1oz letter will now cost $0.75 instead of $0.44, do it.
  • Make sending a package dead-easy. Offer free package supplies in standard sizes like UPS and FedEx do. Convert all these starbellied drop boxes into something that can handle packages, too.
  • FedEx and UPS are already handling companies who need “fast and reliable, but expensive.” Focus on the other end of the market: individuals and small businesses who need “slow, reliable, and cheap.”
  • You have one, and only one thing that other companies don’t: letters. The government gave you a monopoly in this. You’ll probably never have any competition. Yet you’ve given up on it. Make letter-writing cool again. Market high-quality envelopes, paper, wax seals, ribbons, ink, and more stamps that actually look cool. Charge what people will pay. Good-looking letters don’t have to be just for weddings. If scrapbooking has become a multibillion-dollar industry, surely there is hope for letter-writing.

(And I told them as much, in response to a four-page survey sent to me by Gallup.)

Letter from Francestown, New Hampshire to North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, February 1856
pic by John Atherton (cc license)