Recently I drove from Washington to Tennessee. I saw all sorts of interesting things and saw some interesting characters, but the most interesting thing I ran into were the roads. It’s a common thing for us in the liberty movement to run into the tired argument of, “without government who will pay for the roads?”. As I drove through Montana and into South Dakota on some of the nicest roads and highways I have ever seen, I began to question my own beliefs. Maybe the government is capable of using our tax dollars effectively. Maybe the pockets of road work that provided a slight inconvenience in travel time was worth it if I didn’t have to get my alignment done. This question bounced around my skull till I got to Nebraska, Arkansas, and Missouri where the roads left a lot to be desired. The road work being done didn’t seem to be making any difference and of course the inconvenience of crawling through work zones was now vexing.
For a few hours I as a statist. I admit it. Yet as I unloaded my car and started setting up my apartment in my new home, I began to think about how much better the roads would be if a private company owned and operated them. Every so often you can institute a toll booth where uses pay based on how much strain their vehicles put on the road. This of course does affect semi truck drivers and users with large vehicles, but this isn’t a perfect system, it is fair though. The companies who own these roads naturally would value their customers safety so the world institute speed limits much like we have today. Business owners could also pay for advertisements along the roads, and the money they pay to the company that owns the road would use some of it to go back into maintaining the roads. How would this be regulated? If you study free market economics you know as a general law of economics markets are self regulating. Road companies with the worst roads would receive less traffic and less revenue. Same for companies whose roads are unsafe. Privatization of the roads is possible, but not probable when we have the politicians and voters we have now. We need market facing politicians and voters. Not ones who think it’s ok to take money from someone else’s pocket to fund roads.
This is a crash course in the basic argument for privatization of roads, but I alsot to stress the importance of testing your beliefs and principles. That is the only way to grow. Echo chambers and lack of proper debate will kill any group who wants change. You have to be willing to be wrong, before you can be right. I left thinking my greatest challenge would be homesickness and traffic, I never thought my political views would be tested. Let me tell you that I’m very grateful for this test of principles, because now I can say with confidence and knowledge, “privatize the damn roads”.