Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I'm a bit puzzled at how Objectivists view roads. Right now, in the US, the government pays for roads. It's totally sweet to drive on a road without having to pay tolls all the time. People like me and you are taxed to pay for roads whether we use the roads or not. Rand never said that roads were a function for the government, so naturally they should be privatized. So then how are roads handled in Objectivism? Is it simply toll roads everywhere, for everyone?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right now, in the US, the government pays for roads.
That's one way to look at it. Or, people pay for roads involuntarily, thruogh the government.
It's totally sweet to drive on a road without having to pay tolls all the time.
It's totally sweet to be able to walk into a grocery store and take all the food you want without having to pay; to fly anywhere in the world without paying; to just walk into a doctor's occice and say "Treat me!" without paying; I just love going to the hardware store and picking up a load of 2-by-4's without having to go through a checkout lane.
So then how are roads handled in Objectivism?
Privately and voluntarily. You may provide free access, if you wish, assuming you own a road. Try using the search function, to see more specific proposals regarding roads. GC has posts on the topic, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So then how are roads handled in Objectivism? Is it simply toll roads everywhere, for everyone?

Not necessarily. Tolls are one way of obtaining revenue, but not the only one.

A road owner could sell billboard space, for example. He could lease land along the road to gas station and other road-side businesses for a share of their sales. He could do a combination of the three. In any case, the road's users wind up paying directly or indirectly for the road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK I don't know if that last post implied there's another thread about this, I just wanted to say:

YES, all roads that don't offer a direct defensive millitary use, should be 100% private.

This issue really bothers me because the last deade in the hellhole of a country I'm in, that is, Argentina, people of every political affilliation have used road-blocks as a means for "protesting". It could never happen if they were all private. It just doesnt happen in toll highways, or inside gated community roads, for obvious reasons. IT really bothers me, each public space is an uncivilized space.

I can also point out that in Japan there are many 100% private highways in coexistence with public ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm a bit puzzled at how Objectivists view roads. Right now, in the US, the government pays for roads. It's totally sweet to drive on a road without having to pay tolls all the time. People like me and you are taxed to pay for roads whether we use the roads or not. Rand never said that roads were a function for the government, so naturally they should be privatized. So then how are roads handled in Objectivism? Is it simply toll roads everywhere, for everyone?

The roads include streets and avenues in town. For roads with open access toll gates are impractical. How do you propose that a privately built system of streets be capitalized and how do you propose funds be raised to maintain them? The toll road is not a general model. Only highways with limited access can be funded out of tolls collected upon entry or exit.

One method of funding is already in use. It is the tax on fuel. The amount of fuel consumed is roughly proportional to the use made of the roads. The weight of the vehicle can be factored in so that heavier vehicles can be taxed more at the pump than lighter vehicles.

Or one can levy a charge on each vehicle monthly, quarterly or annually. This is not quite fair since it does not take into account how much the vehicle is on road and how much it is parked in its stall.

Privatization sounds very appealing but there are a host of practical problems associated with privatization and only a few funding solutions.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My take from the other "road" topic I linked to earlier.

This is an interesting topic. Here is my take on the nuts and bolts of roads.

First off I think with all roads being privately owned the idea that roads would primarily be owned by stores or factories just doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider the tendency of companies toward alternate service delivery. Why on earth would Wal Mart spend millions of dollars owning, maintaining and controlling roads when its focus & niche is household consumer products? Not saying that they couldn’t but just that it’s unlikely they would, after all they don’t currently plow or maintain their parking lots…

Anyway.

In order to control and generate revenue from the roads they own the Road Companies (RC) would need to be able to assess use. In order to do this fairly the RC would have to be able to assess the frequency and type of use. In order to maximize their profit the RC would have to make this process as transparent to the user as possible and as seamless between one RC and another as possible.

Due to the nature of roads, all roads, the ability to control access is limited. Building a barrier along each section of road or street to prevent unauthorized use would be cost prohibitive. The solution then is to control the means by which roads are used, namely the motor vehicle.

Someone earlier in the topic suggested vehicle registration as a method to do this and I agree. But in order to assess actual use and type of use this method of payment would by necessity have to be retroactive. Here is how I see the whole system working.

All motor vehicles would be fitted with a GPS transponder that tracks the location and distance traveled by the vehicle according to road ownership. By this I mean that where RC “A” owns a series or section of road the GPS in the vehicle, working as a transponder notes when it is on that Company’s road. As soon as the vehicle moves onto a road controlled by Company "B" then that is noted by the transponder as well. In addition though, and to ensure equitable billing for the road customer the GPS/transponder would also track the distance the user travels on the road.

All this information would be stored on the vehicle in some sort of tamper proof attachment. Once a year, when the owner of the motor vehicle registers his vehicle the data from the GPS transponder is downloaded and the cost of the travel is calculated according to the prices set by the individual RC’s and the actual usage of their roads. This fee would become the cost (retroactive) of ensuring your vehicle for the next year.

Please note that the “registration” of the vehicles is NOT a government function but a function of the RC’s working in co-operation to ensure their self interests are met. However the information stored on the GPS/transponder would be useful to police who could request a warrant for the data from a specific vehicle if there was probable cause…

So some will say, “what about if someone doesn’t register their vehicle?” Well that eventuality would be ultimately decided by courts, but there is no reason why RC’s couldn’t or wouldn’t control the usage and security of their property though the use of private traffic security. Same as any other temporary use commodity such as a rental car, the RC would have the right to impose rules regulating the use of their property including speed limits and requirements for registration/operational GPS/Transponders.

A great deal of this topic has centered on rights of way and easements. Here is how I see these issues.

First off, hypothetically if Joe owns a piece of land and builds a road to connect to the privately owned road network then there is no doubt that the road he built on his property is his property and he has every right to deny or grant the use of it.

If Bill buys a piece of land past Joe’s (read farther from the road) and does not confirm that he has deeded or contractual access, and Joe refuses Bill permission to cross his land to get to the road, then Bill is shit out of luck. Buyer beware! Any other solution is a violation of Joe’s right to property.

So, let’s say that Joe, being the nice guy he is, allows Bill to have deeded access. Further lets say our fictional location of “Highway Hollow” experiences a population explosion. Pretty soon, Joe, being the nice guy he is, has deeded access of his road to an entire community.

Soon the road is being traveled and worn and people start complaining to Joe that it’s in poor shape and he really should take better care of it. The logical result of this would be that Joe would begin to look for some enterprising soul to buy the road from him. He doesn’t want or need the hassle. All he wants to do is raise Dobermans and fire his guns.

The property, being Joe’s and Joe’s alone would be his and only his to sell. Once sold the “easement” granted by Joe to the other residents of Highway Hollow would be null and void and each user of the road would either have to negotiate a permanent easement with the newly formed RC, pay on a per use basis, or find another way to get to his property.

I know, "what if the deeds were worded in such a way that the easement was in perpetuity?" Then in all likelihood Joe would never be able to sell that road because no company would buy a road if they could not expect to be paid for the service. Again buyer, or in this case owner beware. This could lead to a community owned/operated road but again anyone that didn’t agree to pay their share could be denied use of the road.

So what about the worst case scenario? What if you buy a piece of property with no access to a road and someone else buys all the property surrounding yours and refuses you the right to cross their property… What are you stupid? Why on earth would you buy land and not ENSURE that you had access to it? Buyer Beware!!!

NB. There is no provision for protection from stupidity in a truly capitalistic society. That mindset is a construct of the socialism and collectivism that has been forced into our societies framework by the same people that claim to this day that Communism is “a perfect form of government because everyone is equal and everyone has access to the means and method of production…” banghead.gif

What about the eco-nut scenario, where a group buys a portion of land just in order to hinder growth, commerce or what have you?

Well, I know it seems like there are a lot of these nuts out there but I seriously doubt that there are enough to seriously hinder any growth. Like water, capitalism will always find a way to seep in/through/around the damn idiots. (pun intended biggrin.gif)

Also in a capitalistic society anyone who did this/belonged to a group that did this, could just as easily be denied the ability to buy food from an affected grocery store, or purchase gas from Jim’s gas station which has to get it’s fuel carted in “the long way around” etc, etc, etc… There is always more than one way to skin a cat and I think personal responsibility for ones actions would be a blessed consequence of a completely capitalistic society.

I would think that the concept of innocent use would be sufficient to allow non commercial pedestrian traffic like kids rif=ding bikes or folks going for a walk. Bicycle couriers and the like though I would think would be subject to charges.

So, anyone see any problems with my theory?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This issue really bothers me because the last deade in the hellhole of a country I'm in, that is, Argentina, people of every political affilliation have used road-blocks as a means for "protesting". It could never happen if they were all private. It just doesnt happen in toll highways, or inside gated community roads, for obvious reasons.

The tactic is used in mexico, too, though people on foot usually do the blocking.

It happens in toll roads, too. Sometimes the protesters will block the toll booths rather than the highway. They allow traffic through, but they don't allow cars and trucks to pay for their passage (and don't tray getting off the car to pay!).

The highways were privatized some years aso. Then the banking crisis hit in 1995 and many banks went broke. Some of the highways were co-owned by banks. I've no idea exactly what the status of the highways is right now. But they were blocked by portestors when they were private, too. the problem there is a lack of will by the government to remove demonstrators blocking the free flow of transit. They've never blocked gated communities because the vehicular chaos to be generate by that is too small to bother with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ruveyn, if we talk about highways then there's no issue. If we talk about city roads: well I guess GPS and Zip's answer would be correct. But in my vision I'd have no problem with all private highways connecting all gated communities where pavement would be offered as a "courtesy", like parks or ponds.

OF course my vision of a gated community is quiet different from what exists now, but that's not the issue.

Danske, the problem is that I don't think "Road Companies" actually own the land. Rather they get a government concession meaning that they can't shoot at the spot any intruder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, when Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, there were no GPS or any other kind of electronic tracking systems, and she believed that government should do nothing except protect the people. So it simply boggles the mind how city streets could be privately owned back then.

Also, roads are LARGE. Competition is extremely hard because roads take up so much space. And the free market isn't going to help either, since consumers can't simply decide, "Ok, I don't want to do business with this road owner, even though his road is the only one going to where I want to go." And imagine the devestation to the environment if many different road companies competed with each other, by building roads all going from the same origin to the same target. It would make the New Jersey road system look pretty.

And, back in the 60s, racism was common. No blacks on my road! No orientals are allowed on my road! And so on.

It seems that only with some fancy technology could privatized roads be worthwhile.

And then imagine the burden on the consumer if a bunch of different road owners in the same city decide that they all want to use different means of collecting tolls electronically from drivers. One company's device may interfere with another company's device.

Bleah.

I think Rand got it wrong with this. Roads have to be socially owned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By the way, when Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, there were no GPS or any other kind of electronic tracking systems, and she believed that government should do nothing except protect the people. So it simply boggles the mind how city streets could be privately owned back then.

Also, roads are LARGE. Competition is extremely hard because roads take up so much space. And the free market isn't going to help either, since consumers can't simply decide, "Ok, I don't want to do business with this road owner, even though his road is the only one going to where I want to go." And imagine the devestation to the environment if many different road companies competed with each other, by building roads all going from the same origin to the same target. It would make the New Jersey road system look pretty.

And, back in the 60s, racism was common. No blacks on my road! No orientals are allowed on my road! And so on.

It seems that only with some fancy technology could privatized roads be worthwhile.

And then imagine the burden on the consumer if a bunch of different road owners in the same city decide that they all want to use different means of collecting tolls electronically from drivers. One company's device may interfere with another company's device.

Bleah.

I think Rand got it wrong with this. Roads have to be socially owned.

What economic benefit would a road company have in making the method of access to his road different from all the rest? Why would a road company try to break into a market that is already adequately serviced by another? If a company wanted to do that it would probably be much more effective to take the other company over.

Your comments on Racism have nothing to do with the conversation and are a straw man.

So you oscillate between saying that competition is hard because of the size of roads and then complain about "devastation to the environment" because of so many companies building roads to compete with each other. Which is it?

As far as the numbers of roads I'm pretty sure that there would be less than there are today. Most Counties in Canada are criss crossed by county roads laid out in a grid pattern. most are barely used and amount to little more than a waste of my stolen taxes. Someone commented on the Spoke and hub system. This is what I imagine would evolve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think Rand got it wrong with this. Roads have to be socially owned.
How about you give your justification for this assertion? It seems to me that you're hopelessly wrong, but maybe you have in mind some fact other than flat-out socialist emotion as the basis of your statement. Hows about you trot out the argument?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How about you give your justification for this assertion? It seems to me that you're hopelessly wrong, but maybe you have in mind some fact other than flat-out socialist emotion as the basis of your statement. Hows about you trot out the argument?

That's what I suspected. Any mention that Rand was wrong or that a certain something is better off not being private is instantly a bad idea. :dough:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's what I suspected. Any mention that Rand was wrong or that a certain something is better off not being private is instantly a bad idea. :)

So asking for your argument was what? Uncalled for?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's what I suspected. Any mention that Rand was wrong or that a certain something is better off not being private is instantly a bad idea. :)

You've presented no argument about it. So far, it's all been emotionalism, as David pointed out. And when asked to present your arguments, you simply evaded the request. Naturally, your statement that "Rand got it wrong" is going to be ignored if you can't logically justify your statements. Here's a hint, if you want to appeal to Objectivist thought: come at it morally, not pragmatically. Objectivists are not pragmatists, and don't define what is right by what "works." Objectivists define what is morally right by reality.

There are enough arguments and links in this thread discussing the privatization of the road system that this thread is itself superfluous. I recommend reading the comments in that linked thread and respond to them, rather than asking one or more of us to rehash what has already been written.

Edited by Chops

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So asking for your argument was what? Uncalled for?

No, it was fine, I just didn't take the time to put more thought into it, nor did I have the time to read everything that was already written on the subject.

I'll read the stuff written about the subject here, and get back.

By the way, in Atlas Shrugged, who owned the roads in Galt's Gulch, or whatever it was called? There were cars, so there must have been some kind of roads, perhaps just dirt. The drivers paid no tolls, seemingly.

And also, in Objectivist utopia, who owns/runs the court system? In the responses above, the court system was mentioned several times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think Rand got it wrong with this. Roads have to be socially owned.

Food is more essential to life than roads. Do you think food distribution firms and farms should be "socially" (i.e. collectively) owned?

ruveyn

Were the government to decree when we should sow and when we should reap we would soon want for bread --- T. Jefferson.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No, it was fine, I just didn't take the time to put more thought into it, nor did I have the time to read everything that was already written on the subject.

I'll read the stuff written about the subject here, and get back.

You will find the signal to noise ratio is quite high here and therefore there often isn't a lot of leeway given to those who "don't put a lot of thought into it"; thought, reason and intelligent discussion being another reason why a lot of us are here as opposed to being at mindless-dribble-and-useless-conjecture.com talking about holistic remedies, spiritual healing and which Spice Girl is addicted to crack.

By the way, in Atlas Shrugged, who owned the roads in Galt's Gulch, or whatever it was called? There were cars, so there must have been some kind of roads, perhaps just dirt. The drivers paid no tolls, seemingly.

Are you taking AS as being some sort of comprehensive treatise on Objectivist infrastructure? This is a red herring.

And also, in Objectivist utopia, who owns/runs the court system? In the responses above, the court system was mentioned several times.

If you were honestly interested in Objectivism you would know that one of the three things that government IS responsible for is the Court system.

Seriously I'm starting to smell a troll.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The argument could be made that the roads have to be goverment owned because both civil defense and the criminal justice system depends on roads , and both are functions of goverment.

The cops, soldiers and judges need food to run on. Is that a good reason for the government to take over food production and distribution? I don't think so.

ruveyn

"If the government were to decree when we should sow and when we should reap, we would all soon want for bread" - Jefferson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

good counterpoint

I will rebutt with this

While in theory, roads might ought to be private, but this is a country of 300 million that has a federal goverment that is too big anyway and the damage that privatization would cause financially to individuals and business in a society where the lines between the private and the public are sort of blurred already might not be a good idea.

Lets start with teh ATF, IRS, Post Office, and FEMA first

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bad premise after bad premise.

Also, roads are LARGE.

Roads are not LARGE. Have you ever driven across the country and compared the amount of road to the amount of undeveloped land?

Competition is extremely hard because roads take up so much space.

"Competition" is not some unqualified good and thinking that it is has been the source for relieving Microsoft of its property.

And the free market isn't going to help either,

Yes, slavery or statism is a much better solution.

since consumers can't simply decide, "Ok, I don't want to do business with this road owner, even though his road is the only one going to where I want to go."

Why not? Again, this is the source for enslaving Microsoft to the public. People say they must use Microsoft products, this is not true.

And imagine the devestation to the environment if many different road companies competed with each other, by building roads all going from the same origin to the same target.

Environmentalist propaganda. I see the industrial revolution as having improved the environment.

And, back in the 60s, racism was common. No blacks on my road! No orientals are allowed on my road! And so on.

Do you think that being rational has anything to do with being successful?

It seems that only with some fancy technology could privatized roads be worthwhile.

Billboards? fancy?

And then imagine the burden on the consumer if a bunch of different road owners in the same city decide that they all want to use different means of collecting tolls electronically from drivers. One company's device may interfere with another company's device.

The burden of having to choose among alternatives. The burden of living in a free society, my god. "Cats and dogs, living together!!" -- Bill Murray as Dr. Venkman

socially owned

Can you define that?

Any mention that Rand was wrong or that a certain something is better off not being private is instantly a bad idea.

Actually I am certain that in order to live in a civilized society, that is: a moral society, the use of force should be delegated to the government. That the only proper function of government is to use retaliatory force and that all other human interaction should be free from force. Do you disagree?

I have been studying Objectivism for about ten years now and I have yet to find one instance in which Ayn Rand was wrong so I hope you'll excuse us for giving her the benefit of the doubt over you or anyone else who asserts that she is in error without providing any evidence.

Still, you could try, though in this instance you'll have to prove to us that the communists in Russia had the right idea -- good luck.

Seriously I'm starting to smell a troll.

The evidence does point in that direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
a federal goverment that is too big anyway

So the government is too big but you don't want to make it smaller?

the damage that privatization would cause financially to individuals and business

Are you suggesting that the government is more efficient than the private sector?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, I was not suggesting the goverment is more efficient...........I used to work as a matinence man in a housing projects and section 8 apartments, so I know firsthand how ineffecient anything the goverment gets involved in is, hell when working at a automotive repair shop, I asked the boss why we didnt do state inspections, and he said something along the lines of the goverment makes it impossible for it to be profitable. But with something like roads, I think that the jurisdiction of fed state and local goverments would probably be more practical. I am trying to put efficiency above ideological purity, but then again the idea of private interstates and highways is so foriegn to me that I could just be closed minded about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×