Ever heard of AFMA shipping? It seems to be a company on the go, one anxious to complete with Fed-Ex and UPS. That’s all to the good. But apparently the company has run into some trouble. Customers are sticking with the competition, and the AFMA figures that there is no good reason for doing so. Therefore, apparently, the company has decided that it is a victim of unfair competition and filed a complaint with the Justice Department, and so the Justice Department is investigating and these shipping companies are on the hot seat.
There’s nothing new in this. It’s never the consumers who file these complaints. It is always some other company that badgers the government into intervening, and the government always makes a mess in trying to pick winners and losers.
The big picture here is what strikes me about this story. The very existence of UPS and Fed-Ex is something of a miracle, companies that were built up based on a loophole in the letter statutes that give the government itself a near-total monopoly on mail, or at least that was the idea. Private shipping companies found the workaround and ended up driving all the innovation in this industry that has taken place for decades. The Post Office is reduced to a pathetic game of catch up amidst constant threats of insolvency.
And yet we are asking the same government to adjudicate an antitrust suit in the private sector? If we are looking for monopolistic behavior, it is not hard to find. Look no further than the USPS. The doctor should heal thyself.