Scott Sumner thinks a Paul Krugman piece from 2009 where Krugman wonders why people think ‘public’ enterprises like the post office and DMV are viewed as ‘something bad’ is the most eyebrow-raising post he has ever seen Krugman write.
Krugman points out that his experience with the DMV or post office has generally been positive and no worse than dealing with the cable company.
Sumner gives several examples where public enterprises result in long wait times and grumpy employees.
I think this is one of the most interesting and most important debates, but I also think that both Krugman and Sumner are missing key things.
I wrote about it in 2013 in this post: Bottom-up vs. Top-down.
I don’t believe ‘public v private’ is all that meaningful of a comparison. I can think of plenty of private companies that have provided me horrific customer service and plenty of public groups that have done well.
My post explains why I think the real distinguishing characteristic is whether the system is bottom-up or top-down.