September 21, 2016

In Finland, the mailman will mow your lawn.

You have to provide the lawnmower and pay a fee, but the mailman (or woman) is required to mow your lawn if that's what you want.
The postal workers themselves came up with the idea, according to Anu Punola, the director of Posti, Finland’s postal service. “We believe many customers will be happy to outsource lawn mowing when we make it convenient for them to do so”.... The mail carriers will do the job each Tuesday — a light day for mail in Finland, Posti says, with fewer ads and periodicals to deliver ....
I learned that while taking a pretty interesting test "10 Questions on Global Quirks" (in the NYT). The question was "For a fee, postal workers in Finland, in addition to delivering the mail, will...." I guessed "Let you read your neighbor’s magazines."

I only got 4 out of 10 right.

I was a little surprised to see this piece in the NYT. The perspective seems old fashioned and politically incorrect: The peoples of the the world are weird in ways that we can chuckle over.

24 comments:

ndspinelli said...

But, can Meade deliver mail?

Clyde said...

I went 5-4 in the ones you hadn't already given me the answer to. The only one I was dead certain on was chuno from the Andes, having read about the evolution of the potato over the past five centuries.

Chuck said...

This story was on NPR (twice) and in the WSJ several weeks ago. As well as the BBC, NYT, etc., etc.

It is a make-work project for underemployed Finnish postal workers. In the age of declining direct mail, worldwide.

It's too bad we don't have Milton Friedman around, for a well deserved laugh at the economic inefficiency of this government employment stunt.

Curious George said...

Here another. In Finland a Muslim refugee will rape your daughter. Or your wife. Or both. And nothing will happen to them. Because that would be racist.

Goodbye Finland.

Curious George said...

I wouldn't trust my mailman to mow my grass.

Rusty said...

It's too bad we don't have Milton Friedman around, for a well deserved laugh at the economic inefficiency of this government employment stunt.

Which one? Mowing the lawn or delivering the mail?
I think the only thing anyone would object to would be the mailman drawing his salary while he mows your lawn for a fee. Otherwise Freidman encouraged voluntary economic associations.

Balfegor said...

Fan death!! I grew up hearing that, yet not ever quite believing it.

Also, the kit kats was easy for me, but it feels like cheating because I've actually eaten all the other choices given. Wasabi flavour is surprisingly good.

Chuck said...

No, Rusty, the point is economic efficiency. Lawn-mowers should mow lawns. ("Lawn-mowers," using lawnmowers, that is.) Postal workers should deliver mail. If there isn't enough mail to deliver then for God's sake reduce the number of postal workers. If there is a need for lawn care, create some more lawn care businesses.

The American media, quite naturally, turn the story into one about (a) the quaintly small-town culture of Finland, and (b) what a clever way to utilize workers and consumers in a cooperative environment.

Um, okay.

But it is like urban farming in Detroit and West Chicago. If you are a big city and you are turning devastated neighborhoods that are surrounded by fabulously expensive infrastructure (energy, transportation, sewers, population) into plots for growing tomatoes and kale because of depressed land values, then you have much bigger problems than local salad-makings.

MadisonMan said...

How big are lawns in Finland? The ones I've seen were tiny, a 10-minute job at most.

EDH said...

If this kind of thing works in Finland, I'd say it's one more example indicating that cultural homogeneity allows certain customs and practices to work even when adopted as national public policy.

Ar private market example is where Taiwanese street markets are thought to supplant the need for a social safety net. As a more homogeneous nation culturally, I'd argue Taiwan has an easier time than the US would have sorting-out what customs and practices are substitutes for business regulation acceptable to enough people.

Taiwan’s Social Safety Net Is the Street Market

With a GDP per capita about half US levels -- between Spain and Portugal -- Taiwan has a tiny welfare state paired with regulations that are both light and lightly enforced.

Result? An explosion in commerce, and apparently near-zero homelessness. Walk anywhere in a Taiwanese city and the streets are alive, all day and all night, with a rotating cast of pop-up businesses that employ mainly low-skill labor while making life a joy for consumers.

Ann Althouse said...

" If there isn't enough mail to deliver then for God's sake reduce the number of postal workers. If there is a need for lawn care, create some more lawn care businesses."

But there is that specific issue of some days being low mail days. The lawn mowing happens on Tuesday, the low mail day.

And one thing about postal workers is that they go around to individual houses, so there's some efficiency in thinking what additional task could be done when you're already going to be at the house? And you have a set of workers who might be considered vetted and trustworthy, so it makes it easy for the homeowner to go ahead and use this person for a task rather than reaching out to some unknown specialist.

It's like having the barber do surgery (in the old days). You're there, in his chair, and he's got razors.

buwaya puti said...

This may end up being practical.
Mail, on paper, is nearly obsolete for nearly all purposes.
Every postal service has been suffering from a lack of custom.
Package delivery is the bulk of their business, but that is lower volume. Most people used to get daily mail but now only occasionally get a package, though the postal services still have to retain the ability to visit any address daily.
So, what sort of revenue stream can you add to a service that provide a human, in person, to your doorstep daily?
No, this probably isnt a question for Laslo or his fill-in.

Meade said...

"But, can Meade deliver mail?"

Sure. But when? I barely have time to keep up with the demand for my lawn mowing services.

Sebastian said...

Make-work project for outdated legacy government business. Which is the not-so-hidden cost of any government business: you're stuck with it forever, if the affected interest group is big enough to whine loudly enough. USPS unfunded liabilities: $102B. They're gonna have to mow a lot of lawns to earn that. Mowing other people's money is easier.

AllenS said...

If I told my mailman (woman) that I'd like her to mow my law on Tuesdays, she'd get out of her car and kick me in the nuts.

Michael said...

Althouse: I am pleased to see you adopt "peoples" which is the original lefty term for people. Authentic.

Meade said...

"If I told my mailman (woman) that I'd like her to mow my law on Tuesdays, she'd get out of her car and kick me in the nuts."

Sounds like your mailman (woman) might be a Swede.

Paddy O said...

The people in different parts of this country are weird in ways we can chuckle about. New Yorkers, amiright!

I worked as a mailman for a few summers and holidays. I can't imagine including mowing lawns. That's a very, very tightly organized system they run, maximizing efficiency. They know exactly how long every route takes in time and distance, so pack in the most mail for a route as possible. Get a little off the plan, the day can get a huge amount longer. Which always made the first few weeks very frustrating until you got to know the system and routes.

There's no time to help mow lawns! That's an American quirk.

Speaking of chuckling, we tried watching the new Kevin James show "Kevin Can Wait" last evening. Not too bad in itself, but the laugh track was way over the top. We couldn't figure out if they had set the laugh track to 11, or if this was common in a lot of shows. It's CBS and we don't watch too many CBS shows. We couldn't finish watching it and won't try again. Meanwhile, on Fox, New Girl also premiered. Was funny, no laugh track at all. Are laugh tracks a generational thing? I didn't realize how much laugh tracks are like advertisements. Once you get used to not having them in a show it's really hard to have patience for them ever again.

Mom2Es said...

They must have postage stamp-sized lawns in Finland.

Jim said...

In Germany I saw almost no public trashcans, yet the streets in Munich were pristine.
Almost all public toilets were pay, and were spotless.
I saw no drinking fountains.
I thought about this and wondered about all of the people who say, Country X has free health care, so can the USA. Maybe we just do things differently.

ndspinelli said...

I'm thinking snail mail might make a comeback w/ all the email hacking scandals.

ddh said...

Nine out of ten. The one I got wrong was chuno, although if the Times had asked about chicha de jora or guinea pig, I would have gotten those right. The original method of processing chicha will give most Americans pause.

Bad Lieutenant said...

buwaya: So, what sort of revenue stream can you add to a service that provide a human, in person, to your doorstep daily?
No, this probably isnt a question for Laslo or his fill-in.

9/21/16, 8:32 AM

How about milkman, grocery or other delivery duties? That seems a little more in line with the infrastructure and core competencies involved.

coupe said...

I hate to break the news, but the only lawns that grow in Finland, grow in July, and are frozen over the rest of the year, where only snow rabbits and reindeer fornicate.