President Trump gets results. His attacks on Amazon have tanked the company’s stock.
It’s hard to think of a more pointlessly destructive act of presidential jawboning in our history. The online retailer is a jewel of our market economy that has delivered more choice and convenience at a lower cost.
The backdrop for Trump’s animosity is that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, which, like much of the major media, is unrelentingly hostile to the president. WaPo’s bias is nothing new, nor should it be taken out on the underlying business of its owner.
Trump’s anti-Amazon jag can be put in the same bucket as his tariffs against China — Trump being Trump, unleashing in accord with his gut instincts and animosities.
The similarities end there. The difference is between targeting the Chinese regime and a great American company, between lashing out against mercantilism and against a capitalist success story, between berating an adversary of the United States and an adversary of his own.
If there wasn’t an Amazon someone would have invented it, or at least the basic model of leveraging new technologies to transform retail. Beginning in the late 1980s, the advent of big-box retailers brought a productivity revolution to the industry. Now, e-commerce is challenging the big-box retailers in their turn.
This is how the US economy works. Eventually, it grinds the high and mighty into dust. In the 1910s, the US government desperately wanted to break up US Steel; 100 years later, the company accounted for less than 10 percent of US steel production. In the 1990s, the government wanted to keep Microsoft from dominating computing; 20 years later, it doesn’t even make the list of Big Tech bogeymen anymore.