Serial business failure and tragicomic president, Donald J. Trump, bloviated today that he wouldn’t approve an emergency loan for the U.S. Post Office unless it raised its package service rates immediately.
And the rate hike recommended by the chronic debtor-in-chief, a man who has likely never even personally mailed one package in his life?
Four times the current rate. That’s 400%.
Calling the Second Continental Congress’s storied and treasured national postal service “a joke,” Trump went on to argue that “the Post Office should raise the price (of package delivery) four times.”
Boy this guy really is an all-American booster, eh?
Price Hikes Hit Home
Having (gratefully) been to my neighborhood, walkable, non-corporate, local Post Office nearly every day since the COVID-19 shutdown (masked and gloved-up, of course) to affordably mail out fabric and other vintage goods from my Etsy shop Lady Virginia Vintage, the thought of Trump’s 400% cost increase for package service raises the specter of my business going six cold feet under.
Often, my high-end vintage fabric samples and fabric yardage are mailed in a flat-rate package. And, as per Etsy’s opt-in program for sales over $35 having free shipping, my gorgeous and rare pieces of vintage fabric, which average $39-$49, ship for free to my dear customers. That means I pay the $7.65 shipping cost, which I try to anticipate when I’m pricing my products.
Under Trump’s misguided and typically ill-thought out plan, I’d pay $30.60 to ship them.
Even if I use the non-flat rate package costs, my packages seldom go for under $6 — meaning I’d be paying around $24 under Trump’s postal hostage-taking demand.
After Etsy’s listing fees and percentage fees on every sale, Paypal or other credit processing fees per sale, and advertising fees, as they stand, I’d be losing money hand-over-fist to accommodate Trump’s anti-U.S. Post Office agenda (read anti-Amazon vendetta).
Or I can choose, as they say in business, to pass the costs of this on to my customer, with $35 pieces of fabric becoming $90 pieces of fabric overnight to accommodate all the fees and postage costs. No added profit for me though. Alas.
A Nation — and Business — Adrift
Surely Benjamin Franklin, America’s first Postmaster General, would cringe.
The author of Poor Richard wouldn’t cringe in reaction against innovations and efficiencies, which are always needed, welcome, and required. He’d cringe because the only tool in Trump’s toolbox is to verbally crap all over anything useful — or American — without actually offering the kind of brains, thoughtfulness, and patriotism that defines our having a US Postal Service in the first place.
I’m cringing too.
Only I’m doing so for fear of Trump’s anti-Midas touch killing my business. Trump’s postal hike demand is the “just shoot up bleach” equivalent of his ill-advised coronavirus cure currently muddying the medical waters of getting through this pandemic.
Confusion, chaos, and craziness, that’s all Trump’s got. And America needs protection from it.
I love sourcing and selling vintage fabrics. My fabrics represent some of the most amazing interior-design fabric houses of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries (brands with deep roots and great design like Bassett McNab, Scalamandré, Brunschwig and Fils, J.P. & G. Baker, Arthur H. Lee & Sons, and Lee Jofa, among others). But to make these pieces affordable to my customers, I cut a thin margin in what it costs to source these finds, clean them up, research, photograph and write about them, and then ship them out.
Having to pay 400% more in postage? That would put me squarely out of business.
At the wafer-thin margins that many small mail-order businesses operate, frankly, any postage increase of more than 5% will threaten our businesses and all that they stand for — like the American principles of resilience and “up-by-your-bootstraps” that brought us all to online sales in the first place (In my case as my second job mind you — my first is as a digital marketer, graphic designer, and ghostwriter.)
Keeping Post Office prices fair is in itself a form of stability (and even emergency subsidy right now) for our economy, where millions of gig-economy workers run a side-hustle business on the Internet, whether on platforms like Etsy and Ebay or others, or with their own e-commerce sites.
But the world’s most out of touch president, who is also the world’s most inept, incompetent, incoherent, and unfeeling president, couldn’t possibly know that. You have to be tuned in to something larger than yourself and your shoot-from-the-hip policymaking to contextualize situations and come up with strategic, adaptable, fair plans that actually speak to the experiences and realities of the whole American citizenry.
We need four times the brains in the White House. Wait, I meant four hundred percent times!
— Lady Virginia