Go up to 46 cents for first class letter rate that is. As the USPS is about to issue four Forever Stamps with an evergreen design in early 2011, there seems to be a feeling that non-denominated stamps are the wave of the future. The British got their first NVI (no-value indicator) stamps issued 16 years ago at the 22p rate and they are still valid first class postage today as the rate hits the mid and upper 30s. It is no secret that mail continues to decline at an alarming rate, putting the USPS decidedly in the red. Projected loss for the coming year is $7 billion. Ouch.
Of course stamp collectors have always been sort of angel investors in the USPS, buying millions of dollars worth of stamps that promise a service that will never need be provided: a stamp in an album means the service represented by the purchased stamp need never be given. If there were more stamp collectors things might be a tiny bit less bleak. Those who are buying Forever Stamps for the most part will expect to receive that service -- the post office can only realize the break even point with them at best.
Personally I shudder to imagine the poor soul who bought a boatload of the stamps and is planning on going back to the post office in 50 years to sell them back for a profit. If you know anybody like that, please tell them -- the USPS has never and will never buy back its stamps.
Stamp Image © USPS