Amazon Responsible for the Decline of the U.S. Postal Service? An Age Old Correlation Fallacy

In the past several weeks, I’ve been trolling news sites, observing all the conversation and controversy surrounding Amazon’s relationship with the U.S. Postal service, which first really came to light after Trump blasted the e-commerce company for its abuse of the U.S.P.S. I paid particular attention to three articles, one from the Times, one from NPR, and one from the Washington Examiner which all stated what Trump failed to realize in his tweets–the relationship between Amazon’s online services and the Postal Service is a complicated one and not to be confused as directly correlative.

NPR argues that Trump in fact is the one causing problems for the postal service, as he has yet to appoint 9 of the 11 members of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service. These appointed governors are in charge of basic operations, and oversee issues such as drug trafficking and intentional delays in delivery, and due to their absence, the Postal Service has been functioning in “emergency” mode. But beside the point, it is in fact true that Amazon relies on the postal service for about 40% of its packages. Trump tweeted recently that the U.S. Postal Service loses about $1.50 for each package they’re asked to deliver by the company. However, this number is sort of arbitrary, and while U.S.P.S. is losing money, the real issue is not with Amazon’s discount but that the Postal Service has been and is still unable to cover its retiree payments due to a literal less amount of mail being delivered.

The New York Times argues that the postal service delivers less mail now, delivering almost 100 million less total deliveries this decade than the last as digital communication takes over. People send texts instead of cards–that kind of think. And so while the Postal Service might be struggling, we can’t assume it’s at the fault of Amazon. We shouldn’t correlate Amazon’s success with online consumerism and fast deliver , says Colin Sebastian research analyst. And as the article states: “….the Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable–and must be by law.”

Lowering cost of deliveries has allowed for more transactions, which is in fact better for the economy. So while it’s still unclear the holistic relationship between Amazon and the Postal Service, we know the company at least is providing thousands of jobs and encouraging a ton of transactions.