Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? (Spoiler Alert: No)

The USPS has major problems, but the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service.

If you are reading this sometime in the future (say, anytime more recent than April 4, 2018), you may recall a week in 2018 when, as described by NYTimes.com reporter Nick Wingfield, “President Trump has pointed his Twitter arrows at Amazon over what he insists is a bad deal for the United States Postal Service.”

Trump, who, granted, is never a stickler for facts, has been blasting the U.S. Postal Service for the way they charge Amazon, “(that costs) the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.”

While the details about the Amazon-USPS deal are not public, some of the available evidence suggests that Amazon has been a boon to the Postal Service.

As Hammock Inc. has managed, on behalf of our clients, the mailing of millions of individual magazines and other material during the past 27 years, I have been an interested observer of the challenges and woes the USPS has faced across that era.

Ten years ago, the USPS handled the shipment of 212 billion pieces of mail. Last year, that number had dropped to 149 billion. (Look in your email inbox or text message client and you’ll understand why.)

The reality is that the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service. Bloomberg has one of many articles that explain why.

The short version is this: While email has crushed snail mail, the business of package shipping, including Amazon orders, grew to 5.7 billion packages last year from 3.3 billion in 2008.

Several years ago, the Postal Service added Sunday delivery for Amazon packages. Do you think the USPS loses money on this? No way.

But there is no doubt that the USPS loses money — like $2.7 billion on revenues of $69.6 in revenues in its last fiscal year.

Moreover — and dating back as far as I can recall — the USPS faces mind-boggling obligations related to its retirement pension. In effect, it is bankrupt.

Most analysts view Amazon’s use of the USPS to ship its products as a boon for the service.

Quote from NYTimes.com:

“It is one thing to demand better financial performance from the U.S.P.S., but something very different, in our view, to equate the U.S.P.S. financial struggles with the rise of Amazon,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, a stock research firm, wrote in a research report on Tuesday. “If nothing else, the U.S.P.S. was already generating billions of dollars in operating losses well before Amazon became a large customer.”

The Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

Where did Trump’s claim come from (other than his hatred of the Washington Post and, thus, its owner, Jeff Bezos.)? See Snopes.com.

Scientists Prove Cyclists Are More Awesome Than Those Who Don’t Bike

Okay. Perhaps that headline is a bit hyperbolic.

Okay. Perhaps that headline is a bit hyperbolic.

However, it does turn out that according to 100% factual news from NPR that Ponce de Leon was looking in the wrong place for the fountain of youth. He should have checked out a bike shop. That way, he would have lived about 400 more years for bicycles to be invented.

Listen to this if you don’t believe me. (Except the article doesn’t mention Ponce de Leon.)

Quote

“What we found in the cyclists was that they had as many of these new T cells just coming out of their thymus as a 20-year-old, which means they should be better protected from all sorts of infections.”

Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
The University of Birmingham (England)

While it’s a great article, there’s one thing wrong with it:

Reporter Allison Aubrey makes it sound like the word “exercise” and the word “bicycling” are synonyms.

I ride a bike around 2,500 miles a year. (Unless it’s a good year and I ride more.)

Of those 2,500 miles, I ride exactly 0 miles for exercise.

Not even one.

In fact, I only have one rule for bicycling: Never do it for exercise.

For exercise, go to the Y and take a spin class. Maybe throw in a hot yoga session while you’re at it. I once did those two things back-to-back and immediately threw up.

For exercise, maybe you should buy one of those $2,000 Peolotons and then pay $40 a month to have some guy whose muscles have muscles make you ride so hard, you immediately throw up. I did that once, also.

That’s exercise.

There are only two reasons to ride a bike.

1. Transportation.
2. Fun.

When you say you are riding for transportation, it makes you sound like you are doing something productive.

You can say things like, “I can get four bags of groceries in my Ortlieb panniers.”

Or, “I can commute to and from Jeni’s ice cream and eat a large cone with two scoops of milk chocolate and salted caramel ice cream.”

Once I tried riding a bike for exercise, but I soon quit because I’m not a fan of exercising…or spandex.

I have not yet found a reason to quit something as fun as riding a bike.

And since I’m not aging, I’ll probably not quit for a long time.

 

Photo: Some bike-share bicycles in Milan. Note the cobblestones. They aren’t fun to ride on.

Warning: Earworm ahead:

Tweetdecking is Either a New Buzzword or a Doomed One

Tweetdecking, we hardly knew you.

I’ve often said that if you try to game Google for SEO purposes, you are going up against the best engineers in the world. And since the Goose that lays the Golden Google eggs is the quality of search results, anything that is done outside the parameters of what Google approves of is like asking Google to turn you into invisibility.

Twitter seems to be understanding that approach…finally. Seems like they started crushing something called “tweetdecking” over the weekend.

via BuzzFeed:

Tweetdecking, as it’s called, is an explicit violation of Twitter’s spam policy, which does not allow users to “sell, purchase, or attempt to artificially inflate account interactions.”

Still, Twitter has previously struggled to crack down on these accounts.

After a BuzzFeed News story uncovered the practice of tweetdecking in January, Twitter announced new spam-fighting changes to Tweetdeck, including removing the ability to simultaneously retweet a tweet across multiple accounts.

Tweetdecking is over. Our follower gains are gonna diminish,” Andrew Guerrero, a 23-year-old tweetdecker in New Mexico, told BuzzFeed News after Twitter announced the changes in February.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

Of Course I Want a Self-Driving Car

Bring on the self-driving cars. I’ll be at the front of the line.


(Via AdAge.comA Gallup poll recently released…shows that plenty of Americans are still freaked out by the concept (or a self-driving car). Fifty-four percent of the U.S. respondents say they’re unlikely to use self-driving cars, according to “Americans Hit the Brakes on Self-Driving Cars,” which was released last week. The findings came from a larger Northeastern University/Gallup survey of Americans’ attitudes on artificial intelligence. People ages 66 and older have the greatest resistance, not surprisingly, with 69 percent saying they’re unlikely to use self-driving cars. Acceptance grows the younger the generation. People ages 18 to 35 are fairly split at 36 percent likely and 41 percent unlikely.


Are they kidding? When the reality of self-driving cars replaces the vehicles imagined by these surveyed older people, they will view self-driving cars as a means to retain their independence and freedom.

I recall that when my father was in his late 70s and still driving, he was in a wreck and had his driver’s license taken away. As driving back and forth to a gym was the central focus of his routine, he was determined to regain his license, or, more accurately, his independence.

This was not a goal anyone else endorsed. He had never been a good driver. For example, he never figured out that cars had side-view mirrors that could be used when changing lanes on an interstate highway. He just changed lanes when he felt it was time to change lanes.

But somehow, he was able to pass a drivers test and regained his license for a while, at least.

Autonomous autos have the potential of providing more mobility to older people or people with vision problems, even blindness, or people like me who hate to drive so much I ride a bike whenever possible.

Here’s a 360-degree video that Alphabet’s Waymo posted on YouTube today that is trying to persuade the masses that self-driving cars will be a lot less scary after we get to ride around in them. I can’t wait.

Snap!

When something doesn’t make sense, there’s a reason. Unless there isn’t.

Yesterday, Kylie Jenner tweeted that she hasn’t used Snapchap lately and, poof, the market-cap of Snap drops by $1.3 billion. (Today it’s market cap is around $20 billion.)

While that may not be as dramatic a swing as you’d witness during a typical hour of, say, Bitcoin, it makes me recall when MySapce was worth $12 billion.

Just saying.