One of the amusing aspects of Matthew Yglesias's blog is his 1966 liberal obsession with the superiority of the Blue-Eyed Utopias of Northwestern Europe. Each week he puts up a half-dozen or so posts on the general theme of "They do it better in Spitzbergen." For example, here's the opening of today's essay on "Postal Service in Scandinavia."
When considering a policy issue like the quality of mail delivery it’s often intriguing to ask oneself “how is this done in Scandinavia?” What appears to be the case is that the government of Denmark quasi-privatized its postal services, creating an independent corporation called Post Danmark that’s partially owned by a private equity firm, partially owned by the firm’s employees, and partially owned by the Danish state.
Meanwhile, Sweden has a state-run postal agency but a deregulated market in postal services. So the state-owned Posten AB needs to compete with a firm called Bring CityMail. Bring CityMail operates as a private company in Denmark and Sweden, but it’s actually a subsidiary of the Norwegian state postal service. Meanwhile, in order to better compete with this Norwegian juggernaut, Sweden’s publicly owned postal service and Denmark’s semi-public postal service are merging to form Posten Norden AB. This is going to be organized as a private firm, though a large share of the ownership will be in the hands of the Danish and Swedish governments.
Hmmhmmhmm ... There must be some common denominator among the postal systems of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark that makes them so good. Obviously, the reason for the difference in quality of postal service between Scandinavia and the Brown-Eyed Dystopias such as Italy, with their excessive clutter of paintings, statues, and other useless junk, must be some wonkish detail in organizational structure.