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Amazon’s Sunday Delivery Hurts Capitalism

PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS IN THE MARKETPLACE … AGAIN By Mande Wilkes  ||  Naturally, a major plank in the libertarian platform is the fee-for-use model of taxation.  Road tolls, private-school vouchers … these are examples (or would be, if school choice ever finally comes to fruition) of citizens subsidizing only…

PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS IN THE MARKETPLACE … AGAIN

mande wilkesBy Mande Wilkes  ||  Naturally, a major plank in the libertarian platform is the fee-for-use model of taxation.  Road tolls, private-school vouchers … these are examples (or would be, if school choice ever finally comes to fruition) of citizens subsidizing only those services from which they individually benefit.

It makes empirical sense, doesn’t it?  I’ve always endorsed the model, and wish it’d take hold.  It’s why the U.S. Postal Service, surviving as it did on postage fees rather than tax dollars, was the lone self-sustaining entity in the bureaucratic behemoth that is the federal government.

It turns out, though, that there’s an unforeseen consequence (symptom? side effect?) of this model …

Not long ago the USPS announced a contract with Amazon to deliver packages on Sundays.  Currently available in about two dozen major cities, the program is set to expand incrementally over the next few years.

As a genuine Amazon addict, of course, this delights me.  But viewed objectively, it’s really odd for a government office to contract with a private company.  I do understand that this is an absolutely common practice in the realm of war and defense, but it’s nonetheless uncouth and it’s downright at odds with the capitalist spirit.

Let me explain …

On the one hand, I’m pleased – and relieved – to see the USPS being resourceful about alleviating its fiscal aches without relying on taxpayers.  Still, though … it rings so wrong, to me, that a corporation would have sway over the federal government … to the exclusion and detriment of other, less gigantic companies.

The whole thing feels eerily close to the government picking winners and losers in the marketplace.  To be sure, it’s not unlike tax incentives that lure business in to a certain area.  In this instance, the USPS is using its statutorily-granted monopoly to favor a particular company (remember that FedEx and the like are barred from shipping certain packages – hence the monopoly). Sounds like “crony capitalism” to me …

While Amazon is certainly correct to take advantage of the deal, the fact is that it’s an avenue totally unavailable to other companies.  Even Netflix, as big and resourceful as it is, hasn’t managed to get a contract with the USPS for Sunday delivery of its DVDs.

Weirdly, I haven’t heard a peep about any of this, save for the press releases and the resultant ecstatic woo! from Amazon users everywhere.  For me that’s what’s most problematic.  This is a story that should capture the attention of politicians and pundits alike, since it highlights the insidious and almost invisible ways that the government keeps eroding the free market.

Mande Wilkes is a wife, mother, businesswoman, author, etc. residing on the South Carolina coast with her family.

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14 comments

Eric Bandholz September 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I wouldn’t say it’s hurting capitalism, as it’s just more corporatism.

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Deo Vindice SC September 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Mandy knows

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TontoBubbaGoldstein September 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Like it or not, Fascism makes the trains run on time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces#Fasces_in_the_United_States

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Bible Thumper September 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Really? Maybe the Fascist controlled media reported that the trains ran on time.
http://www.snopes.com/history/govern/trains.asp

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euwe max September 8, 2014 at 5:33 am

Fox news is the most popular news network.

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Centrist View September 7, 2014 at 8:29 pm

“(remember that FedEx and the like are barred from shipping certain packages – hence the monopoly).

Looks like shippers have shipped plenty of other packages.

Why FedEx and UPS Want the Postal Service to Survive
http://www.minyanville.com/business-news/editors-pick/articles/postal-service-usps-post-office-post/8/3/2012/id/42951

Top U.S. Postal Service Suppliers for Fiscal Year 2013
http://www.huschblackwell.com/~/media/Files/Industries_Services/Services/Government%20Contracts/Postal%20Service%20Contracting/Top%20USPS%20Suppliers/USPSsuppliersFY2013.pdf

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Jackie Chiles September 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

A government office can’t contract with a private company? Uhhhh what? So the Government has to build its own cars for the police force? Its own fire trucks? It has to hire hundreds of construction employees to build government buildings? It has to hire guys to build roads directly? It has to build its own computers, printers, cell phones? Make its own electricity? Manufacture its own carpet? Manufacture its own toilets? Buy its own tree farms to make paper and toilet paper?

This is nonsensical. FitsNews is slipping publishing this POS article.

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Yep September 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Whenever government acts there is moral hazard. Everything it has or buys has been gained through taking money/property from someone else…so in that sense you are correct…the article is nonsensical.

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FastEddy23 September 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

Every g’ment job displaces three jobs in the private sector. … Univ. of Madrid, Spain, economics department study of last year. Every “green” g’ment job in Europe displaces six private sector jobs, according to that study.

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Bible Thumper September 8, 2014 at 1:11 am

Mande, you can learn a business lesson on what drives traffic at fitsnews. Your article is sandwiched between and article about an all white county club with 27 comments and a shooting by a white cop of a black victim/perpetrator with 94 comments. Your article had only 7 comments.

These articles bring out the bigots, and those who see bigotry in every incident that occurs between races and seek to exploit it.

If the shooting only involved whites, a discussion on the use of deadly force would be useful, but not the posters here. They want racial discord.

You wrote previously about not writing for blogs before because of the negative responses. I understand. The exposure to this negativity effects me also.

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ridic September 8, 2014 at 7:56 am

this is exactly what I expect a Charleston SOL grad to know about capitalism

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Smirks September 8, 2014 at 9:05 am

Libertarians hate all taxes, even fee-for-use taxes. Ever hear a libertarian praise the gas tax (state or federal) that funds road repairs?

Also, I thought the right always complained that government should act more like a business in order to keep its fiscal house in order. Here USPS is trying to do just that, but that’s wrong, because government shouldn’t be in the business of doing business, even if they are empowered by the Constitution itself to do so.

Who wants to bet that UPS and FedEx were also approached by Amazon, but wanted to gouge them for providing the same delivery service?

Still, though … it rings so wrong, to me, that a corporation would have sway over the federal government … to the exclusion and detriment of other, less gigantic companies.

Citizens United, McCutcheon, ALEC, the Kochs, and Karl Rove disturb the fuck out of me a lot more than USPS delivering packages for Amazon when it comes to corporate influence over federal government.

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E Norma Scok September 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

My opinion is you should just show your tits and get it over with.

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Rigaberto Sheasby September 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Mande is beautiful but lets put function/competence over form/looks: 1) empirical means observational, so “empirical sense” is odd wording; 2) especially when the observed datum in support of Mande’s model (she could be one) is the financial success of the USPS – which is now losing gobs of money and only worked/profited when they had, in essence, a monopoly; and (speaking of gov’t monopolies) 3) the US Patent and Trademark Office is the only (I think) part of the federal behemoth that actually makes money now and has done so for decades.

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