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Commemorative Simpson’s Stamps Prove Bust for U.S. Postal Service

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Remember how popular the Simpsons were? They were arguably one of the most recognizable pop-culture icons of the '90s, and easily considered the cartoon first family of America. But have they lost their luster? In celebration of the 20th anniversary of "The Simpsons," TV show the United States Postal Service decided to produce 1 billion commemorative stamps featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. However, the stamp is underperforming--way under.

So far, supply has far outweighed demand for the stamps with only 318 million stamps being sold. As a result, the USPS is losing serious dough---$1.2 million dollars according to a report by the USPS Office of the Inspector General. The report criticizes the process of commemorative stamp making, comparing it to guesswork. The report also states that the USPS could save $2 million dollars annually by ending overproduction of commemorative stamps, which are destroyed when sales numbers do not meet expectations.

The USPS revealed that it is projected to lose as much as $15 billion in the year ending September 30, 2012. This is a loss that the USPS can simply not afford. It has asked Congress to help it cut costs by eliminating Saturday mail delivery and getting rid of a requirement to prepay for future retirees' health care.

Critics of the USPS, such as Tom Schatz, president of the nonprofit organization Citizens Against Government Waste said, "If the Postal Service can't address a simple matter such as determining how many commemorative stamps to produce, it shows they can't address the larger problems."

The sales of "The Simpsons" stamps in 2009 and 2012 were underwhelming compared to past instances of pop-culture icons being honored. Elvis Presley stamps sold more than 517 million units according to Cleveland.com and those remain the most widely saved stamps with over 124 million unused to this day.

The best-selling stamp is the Breast Cancer Research stamp, which is priced 11 cents above the first-class letter rate. The difference is given the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense for research purposes.

As the sales numbers for commemorative stamps continue to decline, and the USPS's budget woes linger, maybe they should consider shifting more of their business to electronic transactions as the rest of the public and business world seem to be inclined to do.

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