Fallacy Friday #2: “But Without Government, Who Would Build the Roads?”

“There is only one source of roads, and it does not share power. If you end the state, all the roads will turn back into turnips, and everyone will forget how to build them.”

—Charles Magney

Roads. I had to tackle this one eventually so I might as well do it now rather than later. Statists often point out that the government appears to provide for important public services. A notable example is the very roads we use to transport the fruits of labor on and to go to and from work by. They really do play an integral part of our lives and make basic travel possible. Unfortunately for the statist, it’s a fallacy to think that Government is the sole provider of roads. It’s asinine to conclude that if the government ceased to exist at this moment, roads would disappear and never be built again.

This question by statists is really easy to answer. Governments do not build roads themselves. They subsidize them through taxation and then hire the job out to private companies to build them. The truth is that private individuals know how to build roads. They already build them. They have been building them through out history for a really long time. It’s not that hard to conceive of a situation in which private individuals build roads.

So I think the question the Statist really wants to ask is “Who will pay for the roads?” This is a slightly less idiotic question and is worth a serious answer. Wait, it’s actually really simple. The people that will pay for the roads will be the people that use them. This can be done many ways. The owner of a road could have a subscription fee to use his road, or maybe a toll. We have tolls and those work out fine. In any case, there could be user agreements, like when you download software, that specify the conditions of use. For instance, there could be a clause that subscribers to a road are not allowed to drive drunk on this privately owned road. The roads would be patrolled by private security that would not abuse their power and would treat you like a customer. This is because their jobs and pay checks depend on you using the road and being a repeat customer. This also means the roads would be better maintained and not riddled with potholes like our lovely government subsidized roads. This is, again, because they want your repeat business on their road. This means competition between roads. This means better quality roads at lower prices to the consumer. All in all, it’s a pretty good idea.

You see, statists hate monopolies. Or they at least say that they do. They really love one monopoly called Government and it’s poor excuse for roads that are patrolled by highway robbers and thugs. But a free society has so much more to offer at such a better quality. I don’t see why roads should be an obstacle to freedom. Freedom clearly shows that roads would in fact be better.

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