Price of a Stamp

Stamps are going up in price. Again. The lady at the post office seemed as upset as everyone else. Nine pence on First Class and a penny on Second. Furthermore, Royal Mail isn’t waiting until March, its usual date for price-rises, but the first of January. This puts the price of a first class stamp to a whopping 85 pence. Here’s the official reason:

Letter volumes have fallen 28% in the six months to September 27, compared with the previous 12 months.

Therefore, prices must rise. Interesting model. Imagine I’m the keeper of video shop. Let’s say that fewer people are watching VHS, preferring DVDs, Blu-Ray and streaming; they aren't therefore buying my tapes. Whereas I might once have sold 50 videos in a week, I am now selling only 20. No problem, says I. Instead of charging ten pounds per video, I’ll charge fifteen. This will make more money from the fewer customers I have.

I’d go bust.

Rather than responding to the changing communications market with lower prices, Royal Mail is upping them. If I were a gambling man, I’d wager that stamped mail will decline even further. If the current 76p puts me off sending a letter, I doubt 85p will do much to change my mind. It’s almost as though the big bosses at Royal Mail are actually wanting their business to fail, or trends away from sending letters to intensify. I’ve already cut down my Christmas card list; at these prices, 2021’s is unlikely to have any members at all. What then will Royal Mail do? Put up the cost of a stamp to thirty quid? Bizarre.

The laws of supply and demand usually succeed is establishing the correct value of a product, service or currency. The more people want something, the dearer it becomes; the more readily available it is, and the less people want it, the lower its price. This is why homes close to London are expensive, and homes next to noisy, smog-belching factories are cheap. When it comes to houses, socks and carrots, we understand this. When it comes to our immortal souls, we have as much insight as a Royal Mail economic strategist. The Lord asks in Matthew 16:26:

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Souls are precious- they can be lost, but never recovered; exchanged but never accumulated. We value highly cars, diplomas, jewellery and stocks, but that most precious thing we have we deny or sell cheap. If Royal Mail’s clever strategy fails to boost company profits, jobs will go (through not, I suspect, from the Boardroom). If your soul is exchanged at a loss, what then?

Image by fjbfaraco from Pixabay