Be More Like Europe, Again

Maybe this Obama meme isn’t so far off the mark, after all.  Here’s another example worth looking hard at.  The UK is privatizing its heretofore government-run Royal Mail service, selling a majority stake to the private market.

Royal Mail’s history dates back to 1516 when King Henry VIII ordered the creation of the first national post service.  In recent years, however, the company has battled with the rise of the Internet and email, leading to losses in five of the last 12 years and the loss of more than 50,000 jobs.  It now handles about 58 million letters and parcels per day, down from 84 million five years ago.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the privatization would allow the Royal Mail to continue operating for six days a week, with a “one-price-goes-anywhere” service.

Does any of that sound familiar?

The UK isn’t alone in this, either.

Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands have all privatized their postal services in part or fully.  In June, Belgium’s postal service Bpost raised €2.9 billion ($3.7 billion) in an IPO.  By contrast, the US Postal Service is still government-owned.

And the USPS still is losing money hand over fist.

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