Page:The Post Office of Fifty Years Ago.djvu/103

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35
REDUCTION OF POSTAGE.

therefore to be the one thing needful. The postage must be brought sufficiently low to secure the advantages at which we aim, remaining only sufficiently high to afford the required revenue.

The cost of primary distribution under the new arrangements being only about one-third of a penny per letter, a profit or tax of 200 per cent. on such cost might be added, without raising the postage above one penny. A uniform rate of one penny would, I conceive, be sufficiently low to neutralise all pecuniary objection to its being invariably paid in advance; (other objections will be considered hereafter;) especially if the public were made to understand that its being thus paid were a necessary condition of so great a boon.[1] It can scarcely be doubted that so extensive a reduction in postage, together with the concurrent increased facilities of communication, would produce even more than the assumed increase in the number of letters.[2] But if it only produced an increase to the extent assumed, and if the preceding calculations are not greatly wrong, a uniform postage of one penny would, after defraying the expense of convey-

  1. For a more extensive examination of this part of the subject, see Appendix, p. 96.
  2. The number of newspapers and franked letters would, of course, not be affected by the change. An increase in the number of chargeable letters, in the ratio of 5¼ to one, would therefore be required, in order to increase the total number of letters and newspapers four-fold. The probable extent of the increase in the number of chargeable letters will be brought under consideration shortly.