The Postage Stamp Controversy

The United States Postal Service has always honored great men and women by putting their faces on postage stamps. But nobody ever really aspired for that honor because it has also always signified that you were, well . . . dead. In fact, 5 years dead — that was the rule. But not now. The USPS recently announced that it will begin to honor living souls starting in 2012.

And you can vote for your top 5 living candidates on Facebook, Twitter, or through the mail. Then the Postmaster General’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) will convene to pour over all the nominees and make their selections.

I wonder if this is a good idea. The USPS, in an effort to appear “relevant and contemporary” has definitely stirred up a little controversy.

The 5-year rule just makes sense.The thing about a dead guy is he can’t do anything further to tarnish his reputation and cause anyone to regret honoring him on a stamp. And the 5-year buffer even gives a little more time to uncover any skeletons. Of all the living people who deserve to be recognized on a stamp, how many people are going to vote for their favorite author or philanthropist? They won’t. There are going to be 50,000 votes for Lady Gaga and Brian Wilson. I’m certain that celebrity stamps would be hugely popular, but what happens when these living celebrities do something distasteful or illegal after the stamp has been put into circulation? I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t matter. The government may not approve, but I doubt the popularity of the stamp would suffer.

Read the entire USPS Press Release here.

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