If you have ever given twenty bucks to the Red Cross and subsequently been deluged by form letters from 136 other charities, you may have asked yourself, "What's the deal with all this junk mail?" Here is "the deal," as you so crudely put it: the junk mail industry is now far more technologically advanced than ever. Just give in.

The government made a "Do Not Call" list, but did they ever make a "Do Not Send Me Junk Mail Unless the Sweepstakes Number Is Actually Going to Win" list? I'm too lazy to Google it and find out. The point is, how do the junk mail people know who you are, where you live, and what you're into? Eh? What you're into. *Wink*

They know because they know everything now. The WSJ reports:

A decade ago, these companies might have had 10 pieces of information about each individual household. The new approach allows direct marketers to immediately comb through hundreds of sources of public and private data and assemble more specific demographics, such as young, upper middle class families with teenage kids who like gadgets...

Direct [junk] mail represented 56% of all postal deliveries in 2011, compared with 45% a decade earlier, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

When you open your mailbox today, most of it will probably be junk mail. Better luck tomorrow, eh? No.

[WSJ. Photo: Michael Coghlan/ Flickr]