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Senior Editor, Printing Impressions Magazine

Printers’ Pulse

By Erik Cagle

About Erik

Erik Cagle is senior editor for Printing Impressions magazine. He has reported on the graphics arts industry for 11 years.

 

USPS ‘Helps Themselves’ in Effort to Drum Up Cash

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Apropos to nothing department: I once quoted the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" to a very religious man who soon after lost said religion. Can't remember the context of why the line was uttered, but boy, was he pissed. Seem to recall him bringing up the book of revelations in short order. Nowhere in the Bible are those words uttered, the man stammered. I spent the next 45 minutes receiving Bible 101, my First Class ticket to hell having already been stamped.

Aesop may have been the first to say a variation of it, and Ben Franklin gave us this most well-known verbiage. No one's improved upon it. God loves a go-getter? Nah. Self-starters are OK in God's book? Eh, not as lyrical. Guess Ben was on to something.

Anyway, the whole "God helps those..." phrase came to mind when I saw the press release put out by the U.S. Postal Service. Seems Mr. ZIP is now hawking ancillary products to boost the ol‘ coffers. Just in time for Christmas (speaking of the Man himself), the USPS is offering a pair of last-minute stocking stuffers—located in the impulse item buying section of your local Post Office—to put you in the holiday spirit.

The first item is a selection of holiday music hits titled "Let it Snow," featuring a variety of artists past and present, from Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to Jason Mraz and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" is on there, as is the great "Linus and Lucy" song from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The CD is $9.74.

The second goodie is an oldie, the animated holiday classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."  It costs $11.24. Buyers can opt to ship the DVD via a special Priority Mail Smart Rate box that has Rudolph and Hermie the Elf—you know, the guy who wants to be a dentist.

As an aside, though this old special from my childhood always gives me the warm-n-fuzzies, the messages it purveys are absolutely, positively terrible. In a nutshell, the conclusion you can draw from Rudolph is to shun, ignore and ridicule anyone who is different from you, unless they can do something for you. Santa, I'm looking your way.

I digress...it is good to see the USPS lift a finger to aid its own cause. Ancillary products and services are necessary to keep Mr. ZIP in a lifestyle he's accustomed to enjoying. I love the Postal Service and want to see it thrive, as I clutch my postage stamp albums all dewey-eyed. But the USPS is like a wild animal, and you shouldn't love a wild animal because it would tear you a new azz if it had the chance. (See the Great Exigent Rate Increase Request of 2010.)

We'll never tame the USPS beast, but if products like these holiday standards can provide some nourishment, maybe it won't be so quick to turn on us, eyes afire and mouth salivating, ready to attack your customer's mailing budget.

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
KEVIN NIELSEN - Posted on December 15, 2010
Eric, We can only hope these Ancillary Products truly add a few shekels to the Postal coffer. USPS blowing ten-million or a hundred-million on some initiative launched with great fanfare and promise, only to yield minuscule revenue is almost a proverb. The most recent effort to offer freight services using empty space on postal trucks is only one that comes to mind. Are such efforts mere 'sound and fury', a lot of noise to make it look like you have a plan? Are such efforts necessary forays in search of new revenue? Are such efforts rumblings of a dying Government monopoly intent to infringe on the private sector? Are such efforts unneeded distraction from core issues?
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Archived Comments:
KEVIN NIELSEN - Posted on December 15, 2010
Eric, We can only hope these Ancillary Products truly add a few shekels to the Postal coffer. USPS blowing ten-million or a hundred-million on some initiative launched with great fanfare and promise, only to yield minuscule revenue is almost a proverb. The most recent effort to offer freight services using empty space on postal trucks is only one that comes to mind. Are such efforts mere 'sound and fury', a lot of noise to make it look like you have a plan? Are such efforts necessary forays in search of new revenue? Are such efforts rumblings of a dying Government monopoly intent to infringe on the private sector? Are such efforts unneeded distraction from core issues?