The Privatization of Roads and HighwaysTags Free Markets
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The Mises Institute is pleased to introduce Walter Block's remarkable new treatise on private roads, a 494-page book that will cause you to rethink the whole of the way modern transportation networks operate. It is bold, innovative, radical, compelling, and shows how free-market economic theory is the clarifying lens through which to see the failures of the state and see the alternative that is consistent with human liberty.
He shows that even the worst, off-the-cuff scenario of life under private ownership of roads would be fantastic by comparison to the existing reality of government-ownership of roads, which is awful in ways we don't entirely realize until Block fully explains it (think: highway deaths).
But that is only the beginning of what Professor Block has done. He has made a lengthy, detailed, and positive case that the privatization of roads would be socially optimal in every way. It would save lives, curtail pollution, save us (as individuals!) money, save us massive time, introduce accountability, and make transportation a pleasure instead of a huge pain in the neck.
Because this is the first-ever complete book on this topic, the length and detail are absolutely necessary. He shows that this is not some libertarian pipe dream but the most practical application of free-market logic. Block is dealing with something that confronts us every day. And in so doing, he illustrates the power of economic theory to take an existing set of facts and help see them in a completely different way.
What's also nice is that the prose has great passion about it, despite its scholarly detail. Block loves answering the objections (Aren't roads public goods? Aren't roads too expensive to build privately?) and making the case, fully aware that he has to overcome a deep and persistent bias in favor of public ownership. The writer burns with a moral passion on the subjects of highway deaths and pollution issues. His "Open Letter to Mothers Against Drunk Driving" is a thrill to read!
People have known that Block had been working on this book for many years, and some chapters have been seen in journals here and there. But there is something thrilling about seeing it all put together in one place. It comes together as a battle plan against government roads and a complete roadmap for a future of private transportation.
Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama: 2009