Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. (R-Calif.) has revived an old proposal to allow corporations to buy advertising space on postage stamps. He says his legislation will bring in revenue that could reduce the Postal Service’s deficit.
To portray his point, he includes in his explanation kit a sample post card bearing a 7-Up emblem. For each stamp 7-Up would pay a minimum of 20 cents under the provisions of his “Free Enterprise Postage Stamp Act.”
Given the imminent increase in first-class postage rates to 18 cents or more, Goldwater’s timing is good. But his idea, to put it mildly, was not well received by stamp collectors or the press.
“I’m a Republican, but I think Gold-water’s oft his rocker,” says Harold Goldberg, president of the Superior Stamp and Coin Co. Collectors who obtain every commemorative stamp series (about 25 per year) would have to obtain more than 1,000 of the corporate sales-pitch variety for their collections to be complete. That would cost a great deal.
The conservative Dayton Daily News dripped with sarcasm over Goldwater’s mercantile values. A recent editorial noted that “postage stamps may be the last square inch in America where advertising never appears. They are frivolously given over to commemorating our history and our art and our great figures. This is an affront to any right-thinking American.”
There was some favorable response, however. Eight years ago, when several Cincinnati admen put forth the idea, General Motors showed some interest. The admen then estimated that $100 million a year would be raised, a far cry from Goldwater’s estimate of $1.2 billion. Goldwater claims that industrial leaders he has spoken to were very much in favor of the idea.
Nevertheless, he seems to have run into a torrent of negative reaction from many Americans who call themselves conservative. That could mean trouble for Barry Jr., who has designs on the senate seat from California in 1982. No politician can long endure being both criticized and ridiculed by his own constituency.
Perhaps Barry Jr. should readjust his proposal. Since corporations like to advertise where people are regularly looking, he might consider some of the following outlets: The ceilings of elevators in government buildings seem to he favorite objects of gazing by millions of passengers. Plenty of space to show Hostess Twinkies. Or how about the floors of government buildings. Just consider the number of Americans who walk along looking at the floor. Great spots for detergent ads.
Then there is the prime advertising space located on the backs of jackets of members of Congress. Ah, that would fetch heavy revenue indeed from the business moguls practicing free enterprise.
Just consider what this sample advertisement would go for on Barry Jr.’s back as he wound his way through the daily throngs of tourists visiting Congress: “Presenting Perrier by Goldwater.”