the dollar vigilante blog
If One More Person Asks Me "Who Will Build The Roads?"...
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[The following post is by TDV editor, Gary Gibson and is excerpted from the TDV subscription newsletter.]
Government cannot do any desirable thing better than the market. It's physically impossible for them to do so, like chewing on your own jawbone. By its very nature, government is designed to disregard actual wants. It pretends to listen while it simply imposes. It steals money to fund whatever “services” it claims to be providing. That theft makes the situation a monopoly based on the violence inherent in the threat of force (kidnapping, caging and possible murder) behind the collection of taxes.
What you end up getting is an inefficient and often harmful perversion of what you actually wanted. And you have to pay for them no matter what. That makes these “services” immune to market forces. You can't take your money elsewhere as you could in the free market when a provider isn't making you happy. With government, even if you opt for a private sector version of the government's “services”...you STILL have to pay for the government services you don't use. That's like having to pay Walmart even if you buy at Target.
It's this mechanism of funding-despite-dissatisfaction that keeps government behind the market in terms of the quality of the service it provides. But let the market in just a bit and it will almost immediately start to outperform the “service” of the violent monopoly. That's why government seeks to use its powers of violence to keep the private sector out as long as possible.
This was the case with early individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner. His private mail service, the American Letter Mail Company, managed to find commercial success in direct competition with the notoriously expensive violent monopoly of the US Postal Service. So of course the US government litigated his company to death.
Spooner got the posthumous last laugh. The Internet has turned the USPS into a comical anachronism while private companies like UPS, FedEx and others chip away at the remainder of the parcel market.
Some things, however, seem on the surface in such dire need of centralized, violent monopoly that even freedom-minded people are willing to leave them to the government. The main culprits here are courts, police, national defense and roads. Roads in particular are foremost in the minds of the statists when people like me argue that the laws of economics don't stop working in select places. “Who would build the roads they ask?”
“Who needs ****ing roads?” we reply.
Roads are a Stone Age atavism kept alive by the state. Much better solutions abound and would have been implemented long ago if the state hadn't been diverting precious resources from these free market solutions via taxation. The artificial availability of roads thanks to stolen funds (taxes) are what encourage the car-dependent automobile suburbs and exurban development that people have come to accept as the modern normal. The free market would have encouraged a very differently built environment suitable to a healthy mix of transportation systems. There would have likely been much denser development and a lot more fixed-path transit (rail).
And minus government theft, the billions of dollars that got diverted (by force) into highways and suburban road systems would have been available for something else. And that something would likely have been evacuated tubes.
The idea behind evacuated tubes is decades old. It's basically space travel here on Earth where air friction normally acts as a brake on speed. Eliminate ground friction with airplanes and magnetically levitated trains and you get speeds in the hundreds of miles per hour range. Eliminate air friction with a (near) vacuum along with ground friction and you can get speeds in the thousands of miles per hour range.
Evacuated tube systems could allow passenger or cargo cylinder cars to move up to 4,000 mph. A tube “backbone” could be built across continents and reduce travel time from New York to Beijing to just a couple of hours. One tube could handle the equivalent of an 80-lane highway per unit of time. And because the tubes would feature electromagnetic levitation, much less material would be required to build the infrastructure than with any rail system since there would be no need to support heavy rail cars. The initial construction costs would be high, but then such a system would be monstrously cheap to operate. In true free market fashion, quality, safety and speed would multiply while costs of use would plummet.
While California's government is spending millions of stolen dollars for old technology on a high-speed rail boondoggle, companies like ET3 and Tesla Motors are hard at work bringing the seemingly sci-fi of evacuated tube transport to life. In the very near future, we may be laughing at the primitive notion of plowing through the atmosphere in slow, bulky, accident-prone missiles ...or putting up with tens of thousands of highway fatalities per year on the expensive old world highway system.
Sadly, we aren't already at this point because of the tragic diversion created by the government. While myopic statists ask “who will build the roads?”, those of us who understand freedom, economics and progress ask, “where are our evacuated tubes...and flying cars and levitating pods?” We weep at the thought of the billions upon billions of dollars that were stolen to keep us in the Stone Age.
Governments suck at everything. At least everything worthwhile. Theft, pandering, intimidation, spying, kidnapping, brutality, mass murder and mass destruction...those things governments have down pat. In these realms they can't be beat. But when it comes to things people actually want...well, like I said before, it's hard for people to get what they want when they can't withdraw their consent by withholding funds. The good news, however, is that the forced funding of collectivist socialist/fascist/communist systems always leads toward collapse.
The Western World is leading the way in collapse right now, especially the USSA. Meanwhile in Chile the highways – old tech that they are – are privatized and glorious. The Chilean government manages to be just under 30% or so of GDP, too. Chile is as free market as you can be in this world of scabby nation-states, which is why things are booming there in a decidedly sustainable, non-bubbly manner. It's also a large part of the reason Chile was chosen to host Galt's Gulch.
Latin America as a whole is just a much better bet right now. It may be hard for some to recognize now, but the West is in terminal decline while Latin America is on the rise. Galt's Gulche, Chile is one fantastic way to get in on the ground floor while the getting is scandalously good.
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