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Why You Shouldn't Invest in Forever Stamps

When the USPS introduced Forever Stamps -- First Class stamps that are valid forever, regardless of future rate increases -- my friends immediately had a clever idea: invest in them. Sitting around at a cocktail party, we talked it over -- judging from recent postal rate increases, it sure seemed like buying Forever Stamps and reselling them in the future (when surely the postal rates will involve selling your organs) would be a great investment opportunity. While we didn't bother to actually research it, I think we were all secretly thinking about leaving the party to go stock up on Forever Stamps.

Well, it turns out that Forever Stamps are guaranteed to be a bad investment idea, both because of inflation in the modern era and because of a pesky law that went into effect just before the stamps were announced. Slate's Explainer column did the research, even linking to the story of a fellow who recently bought $8,000 worth of Forever Stamps (that's 19,512 stamps). Anyway, The Explainer gives us some data to chew on:

Since 1971, postal rates have increased more slowly than the actual inflation rate, as measured by the U.S. Consumer Price Index. So, despite the numerous rate hikes over the last 36 years, stamps have actually been getting cheaper. The 20-cent stamp from 1981, for instance, would be equivalent to 45 cents in today's dollars—which makes today's rate 10 percent cheaper than it was 26 years ago. Should this historical pattern hold, you'd be paying more for today's forever stamps than you would for any stamp in the future, no matter how high the rate goes.

In fact, this pattern must hold—as a matter of law. (...)

Read the whole article and also check out Lifehacker's (retracted) "Save the new forever postage stamp" article. Also: this blog post is not intended to give investment advice (or non-advice), and is presented for trivia value only!

So...got any investment schemes that seemed like a great idea on the surface, but turned out not to be worth it?

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Brian Harmse, YouTube
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travel
A Look at the World's Only Underwater Post Office
Brian Harmse, YouTube
Brian Harmse, YouTube

You’re probably familiar with the postal credo of not letting rain or snow or sleet interfere with duties. In the South Pacific Ocean nation of Vanuatu, that guarantee apparently extends to being totally submerged underwater.

As Lonely Planet notes, island postal officials debuted a deep-sea post office adjunct in 2003. Tourists to the collection of more than 80 islands can dive roughly 10 feet (about 3 meters) down near Hideaway Island to discover a staffed aquatic postal station. Waterproof postcards and stamps purchased on dry land can be mailed via the sea, with visitors alerted to the window being occupied by a flagged bob in the water. (If not, they can drop mail off in a separate slot.) Vanuatu clerks can even postmark the correspondence, substituting ink for an embossing device that proves it's in transit. The cards can then be sent internationally.

The underwater post office in Vanuatu
Brian Harmse, YouTube

If the idea of conducting mail transactions while snorkeling isn’t extreme enough for you, Vanuatu also offers a drop-off box situated on an active volcano on Mt. Yasur.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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© 2017 USPS
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Pop Culture
Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

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