It hasn’t even been two months since the new postmaster general, but online sellers are already starting to feel the pain caused by a slower post office. The fact that Louis DeJoy was appointed to sabotage the system isn’t even a guarded secret. Fortune reported on the plan three weeks ago, and Trump basically confirmed it, today:
Bad for Business
But just because the post office provides its service without generating a profit, doesn’t mean that people aren’t already making money with the USPS.
Many online businesses rely on USPS to deliver their products. Even companies that primarily use UPS or FedEx benefit from lower prices due to increased competition within the sector.
Specifically, small time collectible stores that trade in Magic: The Gathering and other card games are approaching collapse:
What I’ve been experiencing lately with lost/missing/delayed orders over the past month is unprecedented in my experience. In the past, I’d lose maybe 1 order out of 100. Now, it’s upwards of 25-30% right now! Mind you, these are all sent first-class, non-machinable, with additional postage to cover such. This is the same exact way I’ve been shipping all these years.
I’m just frustrated at the system right now (understanding what the current administration is trying to do to destroy the USPS), the lack of support from TCGPlayer and eBay, and the lack of patience/understanding from buyers. It’s a joke right now, and I’m one more “missing my order” email from just shutting it all down.https://www.reddit.com/r/mtgfinance/comments/i77uyz/hitting_my_breaking_point_with_lost_orders_on/
The story isn’t unique and several other members in this small community have expressed similar concerns and frustrations, ultimately wondering who is responsible for the losses they’ve suddenly incurred from their recently-profitable businesses.
Collectibles aren’t the only businesses suffering, either. Books, photos, and a variety of other online purchases are delayed or not showing up at all.
So why is the president attacking one of the country’s most popular public institutions right before an election? Quite simply: there is money to be made. As an added bonus, mail-in and absentee votes are expected to surge – so controlling the post office means controlling access to the ballot.
Controlling the ballot
It’a also been noted that Trump doesn’t feel particularly confident about his election odds in November. He’s been publicly attacking mail-in voting as a particular fear of his, leading Twitter to put a warning on one of his tweets made shortly before installing the new postmaster general:
Privatization and the profit motive
One obvious motive here can be found in DeJoy’s conflicts of interests. Not only is he a wealthy donor who has never worked for the United States Postal Service (USPS), he’s also heavily invested in some of their competitors, like UPS and XPO.
So the guy in charge of the post office literally makes more money if his agency fails so badly that it increases business for UPS.
Of course, he’s not the only Republican donor who has investments in companies like UPS and FedEx. To them, any service provided as a non-profit public good reduces the amount of profit they can make off the overall business of mail and package delivery. Of course, the service would cost more for the people who use it – but that hurts small businesses and working people, not rich, politically connected investors.