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Trump vs. Amazon (an average guy tries to figure it out)

April 9, 2018

(image via wikimedia)

This isn’t a political post.  Yes, Amazon and President Trump will be mentioned, but this isn’t really about the policy wonk stuff.  Even though I try to stay out of politics, I have to write about this because Amazon sells a lot of books and anything that affects Amazon can affect my book reading.  I wrote about Amazon a few years ago  when the Obama Justice Department sued Apple and several book publishers for colluding to keep ebook prices unnecessarily high.  When Amazon was handing out refunds a couple summers ago, it wasn’t because of Amazon’s practices; it was because other publishers had sold ebooks for too high a price.

This whole thing with the U.S. government and Amazon started with a tweet last week where Trump claimed that Amazon was ripping off the USPS with its package delivery deal.  Trump claims that Amazon has an overly favorable deal with the U.S. Postal Service and that this deal hurts the USPS.  Amazon claims that the deal actually helps the USPS.  Who is right?  It’s tough to tell because the details aren’t public.  Even if the details were available to me, they’d probably be tough for a guy like me to interpret, so that wouldn’t help me much.

The USPS is losing money, but supposedly it’s because of the benefits it’s required to offer its employees.  A lot of companies lose money over benefits.  Benefits don’t really seem to benefit anybody anymore, except maybe the insurance companies, but that’s for a different kind of blogger to break down.  Anyway, Amazon’s deal with the USPS seems to have increased business for USPS (at least in package deliveries), but Trump might be suggesting that the USPS negotiate a better deal.  Trump likes to brag about negotiating deals.  I bet Trump would love to negotiate a deal with Jeff Bezos.  He might even suggest that Jeff Bezos has bad breath (You’ll only think that was funny if you’ve seen this video ).

Some of this has to be personal.  Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, and the Washington Post is one of the newspapers that government leakers leak to, and Trump hates government leaks, so this appears as though Trump could be attacking a newspaper he doesn’t like by going after Amazon.  Amazon also has weird stuff going on that has nothing to do with the Washington Post, like droid deliveries, weird Alexa laughs, buying Whole Foods, and pursuing global domination.  I mean, the Amazon Kindle changed my life, but there’s still some weird stuff going on with Bezos.

Trump and Bezos have a lot in common.  Trump fires a lot of people, and Amazon warehouses have really high employee turnover.  Trump has funny hair, but if Bezos grew his out, it would probably look funny too.  Both have more money than the average person can keep track of.  Trump is a rich guy who became President of the United States during his first ever political campaign.  Jeff Bezos is a rich guy who might own the world without ever having to run a political campaign.

I feel bad for people who hate both Trump and Amazon.  A lot of people despise Amazon because it’s on the verge of becoming a monopoly and maybe has used a bunch of questionable business practices.  A lot of people despise Donald Trump because… yeah, I don’t feel like writing a paragraph that long.  At any rate, if you despise rich people just for the sake of despising rich people, it would be tough to choose who to root for here.

Those publishing companies and brick & mortar stores who hate Amazon now have an ally in Trump, but they probably don’t want to seem too enthusiastic about it.  I’m sure B&M Booksellers would love to see Trump stick it to Amazon, but if they come out in support of Trump, then a bunch of Trump haters will start boycotting B&M Booksellers, and those Trump boycotters can get serious.  If B&M Booksellers are rooting for Trump to knock Amazon down a peg or two, they’d better root for that very quietly.

This whole Trump vs. Amazon thing is complicated for an average guy like me.  Even if I had access to all the details, I still might not be able to figure it out.  Still, I like trying, and I have plenty of time to learn more.  I’m pretty sure that as long as Trump is president and Bezos runs Amazon, this conflict isn’t going to end any time soon.

One Comment
  1. As a consumer who pays exorbitant postage costs for seemingly everything going and coming…I would come down on the side of Amazon for saving me a tiny bit of money. As someone who feels that Amazon rips off ebook buyers routinely…there are days when Amazon is my worst enemy. As for Trump…this is another red herring/smoke screen for some other dirty deal he has going on in the background that he doesn’t want us to pay attention to…like taking controls off pesticides so more bees will die and the cost of food will skyrocket and more of his friends will somehow get rich.

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