Saturday, May 29, 2010

Scary Libertarians?

In which Amy Alkon encounters the Fear of Freedom Worm.
I made some offhand remark about being libertarian at a party, and I might as well have donned a pointy white hood with eye slits. The guy I was talking to, with whom I'd had a perfectly pleasant conversation until that moment, started attacking me...demanding of me, did I (horrors!) believe roads should be private? I could see he had a distorted view of libertarianism, and the conversation degenerated from there.
Read the rest here

The comments are particularly instructive. The umpteenth questionable assumption of anti-libertarian arguments goes something like: I can conceive of a bad outcome therefore there will be a bad outcome.

For example, the anti-gun nuts predicted widespread mayhem, blood it the streets and television style shootouts if people are allow to carry guns.

Didn't happen.

Imagine if you removed all the traffic lights? Everybody knows that the evil nature of fallen man would insure that people will drive like maniacs, causing accidents and the highway death toll to "skyrocket"!

Except that didn't happen either:

Rip Then Out!
Traffic lights are inefficient: they make us wait at red even when no one is using the green. Time and again they interrupt our progress, often needlessly. Rooted in a misreading of human psychology, they override common sense. Busy cities already rely on universal cooperation; we don't have lights for pedestrians on pavements, yet even when they are packed with shoppers, everybody gets along. Traffic controls outlaw discretion, generate stress and provoke aggression. What happens when controls are absent? Left to its own devices at junctions where the lights are out of action, traffic disperses without incident or delay. Free of vexatious rules, we approach junctions slowly and filter. A London cabbie says: "You've just got to be a bit more careful, that's all."
Is this the end of the road for traffic lights?
Residents of the northern Dutch town of Drachten have already been used as guinea-pigs in an experiment which has seen nearly all the traffic lights stripped from their streets.

Only three of the 15 sets in the town of 50,000 remain and they will be gone within a couple of years.

The project is the brainchild of Mr Monderman, and the town has seen some remarkable results. There used to be a road death every three years but there have been none since the traffic light removal started seven years ago.
Fact is, if the anti-freedom whiners would do their homework they could find numerous example of toll roads working. Texas comes to mind immediately. Illinois offers a counter example but it is really is an illustration of what happens when the government runs the toll roads.

Yes, I know that the Texas roads are so-called "public-private" ventures and not truly free market. They are example of a government protected monopolies. Nevertheless, even that tiny bit of free-market attitude has improved the utility of the roads to the users. They serve an example to the utilitarians that profit motive can produce a better quality good than taxation. Get over it: Whenever freedom is tried it works. Statist assumptions crumble when confronted with reality.

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