Letter Re: Forever Postage Stamps as an Inflation Hedge

You have written favorably of the US Postal Service Liberty Bell (“Forever”) stamps. Short history: The US Post Office Department was reorganized and became the US Postal Service effective July 1971. Employees of the Post Office then became employees of the Postal Service, but saw no changes in their paychecks. They looked the same.

More recently, the Postal Service has likely accumulated significant cash from selling the “Forever” series. The government’s pledge is that the stamps will henceforth be honored as postage without supplement……no more adding one or two cent stamps’ postage (or more) to the already purchased forever stamps.

However, whether the stamps would retain value, as “forever” status should the US economy plunge is untested. As we anticipate a crisis when we would doubt the value of Federal Reserve Notes, why would we stock up on “forever” stamps? Couldn’t the Postal Service be “repatriated” back into the US Post Office or into another government entity, and the already issued “Forever” stamps be then no longer honored? Or at a minimum the public be required to again add supplemental postage? These pre-purchased “Forevers” could just end up being a loan or a donation to the US Government. – KA

JWR Replies: While I hardly consider them an investment, I do consider Forever stamps a good inflation hedge. The vagaries of government edicts are impossible to predict. It is indeed possible that an Orwellian decree will issue forth from the District of Columbia, stating that “the word forever no longer means forever.” This is just a risk that anyone holding Forever stamps will have to take. I think that it is more likely that at some point in the inflationary future the USPS will simply mandate that postage stamps can only be used one at a time, for postage, rather than allowing them to continue to be cashed in or applied to other transactions–such as purchasing USPS money orders, or recharging postal meters. Congress might also someday make secondary bulk sales or barter of un-cancelled postage stamps illegal.

For now, however, I still consider Forever stamps a good inflation hedge. OBTW, I was recently told by my local postal clerk that regulations have changed, and henceforth I cannot pre-pay the rental on my post office box for more than one year in advance. This will of course leave me vulnerable to rental rate increases. But presumably, I can set aside a stack of Forever stamp booklets that I can use for future post office box renewals. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Parenthetically, I should mention that I still gratefully accept donations of Forever stamps, in lieu of 10 Cent Challenge contributions. My mail forwarding address is still:

James Wesley Rawles
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845

Note: We live at an isolated ranch. The address above is just a mail forwarding address. We maintain this intermediate address to ensure our privacy. Our mail and packages are picked up and forwarded to us roughly twice a month, by a very trustworthy friend. Be advised that there may be as much as 20 day delay before I receive your mail. Thanks for your patience, and many thanks for your support of SurvivalBlog!