Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need ... roads!

Building onto the "eminent domain" theme has me thinking about roads.

I am frequently asked how we will have roads if there is no government road program or fuel taxes.

Note that this isn't "the only way" roads might work in a free society, but only a possible solution. The reality would probably be different than I can even imagine.

I think that all roads should be private property. Everyone would own the road that runs through their property. Or if it runs along a boundary, they would own the half of the road that is on their side of the property line.

Now, If I owned half of the road in front of my property, would I want the bother of maintaining it, and the liability if someone were driving on it and was in an accident? No, I wouldn't. Would I close off the road to travelers? I wouldn't, but I am sure some folks would. That would be their choice. Would there be any profit in keeping the road open? Yes. (Plus, businesses have a vested interest in keeping roads open so that customers can get to them.)

No one, including me, wants a stupid toll-booth every hundred feet or so. So what would happen?

I think that the market would soon find a workable solution. My hunch is that companies would form which would buy or lease roads from land-owners, taking on all costs and liabilities, but also most of the profits. These companies (not "corporations", which are a government creation) would probably sell a form of travel insurance or something of the sort that would permit travel upon their roadways and also guarantee against road hazards, and maybe even mechanical problems.

They could also sell or lease out business locations along the shoulders.

There would probably not be enforcers and roadblocks along the road. If a road's owner allowed this to happen, competitors could profit by offering an alternative. Bad traffic problems would be a cause to find a real solution, and "one size fits all" wouldn't be the name of the game. Traffic signals could be dispensed with by those who are aware of the problems they cause.

If you think this sounds unreasonable, go back to the title of this post. If this solution didn't make everyone happy, what would happen? What would stop inventors from creating vehicles that don't use roads? It has already been done. The biggest stumbling block along this line has been (for over 50 years) the government regulations which cripple innovation with red tape and inertia. Does the FAA sound familiar?

So you will have a choice: use the roads and pay a fee (or have the fee absorbed into the cost of doing business) which would undoubtedly be less than the fuel taxes you pay now, or leave the surface entirely.

The sky is no limit when you have liberty.

(From the archives. Originally posted September 5, 2006. Updated.)


1 comment:

  1. If I may make a biased blanket statement, I believe those who bring up "roads" as if it is proof that govt must exist, are simply terrified of change.

    It's not that they like paying taxes for these shoddy, dangerous tax-trap money pits, it's not like they don't ever speed or make the occasional "illegal" turn. No, they're just so accustomed to the way things -are- that they cannot deal with the idea that things might not always be -this- way.

    There is nothing more set-in-stone than a government bureaucracy. For those who are afraid of change, statism is a haven of bureaucratic calcification.