Comment: Rothbard Answering An Audience Question On Private Roads

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Rothbard Answering An Audience Question On Private Roads

I don’t see what the problem is. The English network of roads in the 18th century was all private.

And turnpikes. You’ve got toll roads. You can see that. You can just as well have private collection of tolls as government.

And then streets are gonna be run all sorts of ways. There’s all sorts of ways that street companies collect income….

It depends how the market would work it. I don’t know what the technological unit would be. That has to be worked out by the market. It could be the whole of Manhattan or it could be one neighborhood.

There are all sorts of possibilities. It’s just that we can’t dictate it in advance. That’s the whole thing about the market. You have to see how the market develops the institution.

But, yeah, sure they’ll be streets. One way to finance it, by the way, is to have a sticker in your car. You buy a sticker which gives you the right to drive, let’s say, in the rush hour period. You pay a market price for the sticker, and this eliminates congestion in rush hour. A beautiful way of doing it.

In New York city, first of all of course either they have zero fees or very low parking fees. They have big congestion. And then the mayor says we’ve got to ban all private cars from New York, from Manhattan.

It’s typical of government in action. Either you subsidize something or you prohibit it. There’s no concept maybe you can let the market do it. You know? Have the market and competing private enterprise, and let them work out the pricing arrangement. It’s the only rational way to do it anyway.

It’s only because we’ve been locked into a situation for a couple of centuries of government roads that we can’t conceive of how it would work.

It’s very much as if, for some kind of customary historical reasons, government was the sole monopoly producer of shoes. That’s it. Everything else is free, but government produces all the shoes. And if I came up and said, "I think we should have a privately competitive shoe industry."

And you could easily say, "Hey that’s a terrible thing. You want people to go unshod? Who would produce shoes? How may would there be? How many firms would there be?"

Who the hell knows? You let the market rip, and let the market decide. That’s the way to do it.

"Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket."-Rothbard