Ponzi Scheme and Stamps

A certain type of fraud that dates back centuries, known as a Ponzi scheme, derived its name from a deception involving stamps in the early 20th century.  According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Ponzi scheme is “an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.”  Investors are led to believe that their investment is yielding unrealistically high returns.  Despite the 20th century adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” billions of dollars have…

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Creating chaos at the U.S. Postal Service
Mailbox, Annapolis, MD

Creating chaos at the U.S. Postal Service

Multiple crises over the past year created an unprecedented level of chaos at the U.S. Postal Service.  The service has been disrupted by political disputes over mail-in ballots; removal of street mail boxes, mail sorting machines, and barcode readers; COVID-related illnesses among postal employees; and a much higher volume of mail and packages due to the pandemic.  Some of the causes of chaos were deliberate and avoidable. First, there was the dispute over mail-in ballots.  Due to the pandemic, many voters chose to cast their ballots by mail rather than wait in long lines to vote…

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Politics and Pandemic

Land's End, San Francisco At last, there is good news on the horizon, a promise that a year dominated by politics and pandemic will soon be over.   Politics never go away, but hopefully, the days will become calmer now that the November presidential election is finally over and a new administration is on the horizon.   With two new vaccines rolling out, there also is hope that the pandemic will subside in the first half of 2021.  Election years are always difficult, but 2020 was a doozy.  It was a brutal year in almost every way possible. …

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For the Price of a Stamp

For the price of a stamp (Global International, $1.25), I can send a letter or card to my cousins in Switzerland and Canada.  The 2020 Global stamp features a beautiful chrysanthemum.  For the price of a stamp (Forever, domestic, 55 cents), I can send a note, thank you, condolences, and other messages to anyone in the country.  For the price of a stamp, I can honor history, celebrate musicians, view gardens, national parks, and other landscapes.  For the price of a stamp, I can acquire a beautiful piece of art.  For the price of a stamp…

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New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service
Americans rely on mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more

New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service

Americans rely on timely mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more New threats to the U.S. Postal Service now challenge this essential service.   Ongoing budget troubles have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and a precipitous drop in the use of first class mail.  Add to that a new Postmaster General, a political appointee, who is making sweeping changes that reduce services, has endangered the ability of the Postal Service to manage mail-in voting Louis DeJoy, a businessman and major fundraiser for President Trump, took over the duties of Postmaster General on June 15,…

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Financial Woe for the USPS

Flag Act of 1818 The COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc throughout the world, and part of the fallout is financial woe for the USPS.  A significant reduction in advertising by mail and a further steep decline of first-class business and personal correspondence have resulted in a 30% drop in mail volume, putting the U.S. Postal Service at risk.  The postal service estimates that it will run out of operational funds by September 2020, if not sooner. No federal dollars are allocated to the United States Postal Service.  Operations are funded by the sale of stamps…

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Staying at Home

Sidewalk messaging How to practice social distancing Staying at home has become the new normal, because we are living in unusual times.  In recent weeks, my only outside activities are a weekly trip to the grocery store, and daily walks, generally close to home.  The air is cleaner, thanks to fewer automobiles on the road, and the Bay Area is getting some much- needed rain.  And the important thing is for everybody to take whatever steps are possible to keep not only themselves, but also those around us, safe in this time of pandemic. In many…

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A Card in the Mail

Let's Celebrate is a newly released stamp by the U.S. Postal Service Whether it be a birth or birthday, a holiday, or the passing of a friend or loved one, life passages are best celebrated by a note or card in the mail. While an email or response on social media may suffice, there is no better way to communicate than a hand-written note or card.  A recent survey by Morning Consult indicates that the U.S. Postal Service is, overall, the most trusted brand in America, ranked highest by Gen X and boomers. So when you…

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Notes for the New Year

The last of the cards and notes for the New Year come in a slow, uneven trickle, soon to be but a memory.  Second to reunions and celebrations with friends and family, these physical notes, photos and greetings are my favorite part of the end of the year rituals, helping me to stay in touch with people who are important to me, both near and far. The post office continues to play an important part in people’s lives, judging by the crowds standing in line to mail packages and letters, either at the automated machines or…

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Country Mouse
Tomales, CA farmhouse

Country Mouse

Tomales, CA farmhouse Although I am an urban dweller, part of me is a country mouse.  A vacation is not necessarily a trip to another city, rich with historic sites, museums, and fine restaurants, but rather a sojourn in a quiet rural destination, preferably one with views, hiking, and a nearby body of water. Recently, we stayed in such a place.  Downtown Tomales (CA), population 204, has a post office, a bakery, a Town Hall, a small grocery, a deli, an antique store, and some real estate offices.  Add in a hotel and a bar/restaurant, and…

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