Libertarian History/Philosophy

Real Libertarianism

A response to Michael Kinsley

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Michael Kinsley rightly marks libertarianism as being "useful and undervalued" in American political discourse—and this historian of the movement says thanks. However, Kinsley tries not to go too far. He thus misunderstands some of the reasons libertarians advocate what they advocate and the advantages of their line of thinking.

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  1. For instance, when did it come to mean “one of the Beltway Boys?”

  2. First off, Kinsley conflates two distinct branches of libertarianism: the anarchistic and, to use the portmanteau of the movement, the “minarchistic” branch.

    Point of language: why do “anarchistic” and “minarchistic” need the “-ic”? Don’t they already function as adjectives?

  3. Kinsley also has fun with the notion of privatizing roads. But why? Anyone who has ever driven a toll road, particularly one with a “fast-track” card reader, knows it’s easy to exclude nonpayers (impossible for a true “public good” in economists’ lingo) and to build them with private funds so that no one is on the hook for roads they never use. Road construction can then follow actual demand, helping eliminate waste and gridlock.

    Just because limited access, long distance highways can function well as toll roads, does not mean that the concept can be extended to local streets. Have fun swiping your toll card every time you turn onto a different company’s road at an intersection.

  4. Anarchist would be a noun.

    Do “anarchist theory” or “anarchist group” or “a minarchist think tank” not make just as much sense as “liberal politicians” or “conservative constituents”? Why can “anarchist” and “minarchist” not pull double duty as nouns and adjectives like so many English words, particularly the parallel terms describing competing ideologies?

  5. From Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry:
    an?ar?chist
    Pronunciation:
    \?a-n?r-kist, -?n?r-\
    Function:
    noun
    Date:
    1678

    1: a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power2: a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism or anarchy; especially : one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order
    – anarchist or an?ar?chis?tic \?a-n?r-?kis-tik, -(?)n?r-\ adjective

  6. I honestly can’t believe that the whole “what about local streets?” question even comes up.

    It MUST be a function of the fact that the people having this discussion usually live in New York or Northern Virginia.

    There are VAST AREAS in the United States with private road systems. They’re called condominium projects. Town and city sized private road systems exist in Texas and Florida already, right now. The roads aren’t toll roads; they’re merely owned by all the property holders abutting the road and administered either through condominium agreements or private road maintenance agreements.

    Kinsley’s problem is that he looks at existing development patterns and says, “How could libertarianism have created this?” and that is a stupid question. Obviously libertarianism would have produced [and would produce, going forward] different development patterns. Instead of the government socking the taxpayer to build roads “on spec” [we make fun of the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, but just about all road projects start out as “roads to nowhere”] so that developers can develop individual parcels that feed into the road system, you could have projects developed wholistically, with the roads included and then maintained by property owners.

    “But – but what if people decided to close their roads off to everyone else?” Development that included a commercial component obviously wouldn’t close its roads off, because commercial property owners WANT people to come to their property. Pure residential development, if it still existed, probably wouldn’t result in closed roads because if you closed your roads, the people in other areas might close their roads TO YOU.

  7. Fluffy,

    If all the roads in an area are owned by the same company, there won’t be any competition, right? Won’t that produce all the same problems we have with govt roads?

  8. OK, so private roads = gated communities ?

  9. Crimethink –

    Well, think of condo project management today.

    Do you have management companies maintaining their own Departments of Transportation? Generally no. They contract with individual companies for snow removal, surface maintenance, line painting, etc. I imagine that even when scaled up the same approach would make sense. Those companies would compete.

    And the individual property owners who would make up the membership of groups that are maintaining roads are competing with other property owners – real estate has a resale value, and if your project falls into disrepair you are effectively outcompeted by other property owners.

    Obviously you would have variation in the quality of roads and the quality of road upkeep. But that exists now, really. And you’d also have property owners whose interests were damaged by the fact that their association fucks up. But you also have that now already, too.

    I will also acknowledge that this would probably lead to much denser development than we have now, because 1) long-haul road development would be handicapped relative to surface street development 2) the lack of a coordinating body would probably lead to idiosyncratic street development, like in pre-automobile cities 3) developing in areas with existing road networks to piggy back would be more economical than building roads to green fields. But to me, all of these are GOOD things.

  10. crimethink,

    Won’t that produce all the same problems we have with govt roads?

    All but one. They wont be owned by the government.

  11. OK, so private roads = gated communities?

    Sometimes.

    Sometimes not.

  12. Of course, in true anarchistic tradition, anarchist is a noun only if anarchists say it is.

  13. crimethink,

    I generally like your posts but arguments like this erk me to know end…

    “Have fun swiping your toll card every time you turn onto a different company’s road at an intersection.”

    It shows very little creativity to imagine that being the only way to have private roads. I don’t have to swipe my credit card at every website I visit.

  14. know end, nice!

  15. Kinsley is a boob. He’s such a quintessential boob I thought it was his job title. I’m surprised to see him still employed. I only know him as the boob W F Buckley kept around as a living straw man to knock around.

    Brian,
    You were far too gentle with him. Michael’s attack was so simple minded. “Say that’s an interesting idea you libertarians got there. But I’ve thought of something I don’t like about it, therefore we should dismiss it altogether”. You should have chewed him up and spit him out Brian. Which is easier to deal with? ‘What about intersections’ vs ‘What about graft’. I’ll take my libertarian fantasies any day of the week. They use to say (and still do say) that only government can pick up the trash. Many (most? nearly all?) municipalities across the US now find the market works better.

  16. So we’re talkin’ about exurban, privately planned and privately built communities. Most people live in urban and their near-by suburban edge cities and suburbs.

    Private roads only makes sense if you live in east bum-fuck.

  17. I live on a privately maintained road – this isn’t rocket science. My community is not gated, but is fairly exclusive. We have a homeowners association with a board made up of residents. We pay an annual fee to maintain the streets and street lights. We soon will need the streets repaved so we are in the process of getting bids from several companies so we know we will be getting the best price, etc. No one’s cronies will be getting the job!
    By the way- I am in SC and the Ron Paul movement is everywhere! I see both handmade and professional signs all over the place and my entire extended family plans to vote for the good doctor tomorrow!

  18. kohlrabi,

    Sorry to irk you, but I was referring to Doherty’s citing toll roads where you swipe your card getting on and off as proof that private roads can work. If there are other plausible ways for private local streets to work, he should have cited them.

  19. Then there’s the question of security v liberty. Take three villages of old. One is purely made of thugs, one is purely libertarian with a minimal government and the last has some liberties but very limited due to a needed protection force. It is strong enough to defend against the thug village, while the libertarian village gets mowed over and becomes slaves to the thug village. A sort of Darwiniam of politics has the libertarians as a political realm extinct.

    Today, as through all of American histroy, we are struggling with that argument. Ben Franklins famous quote “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” This mean we can’t give up any liberty for security just not essential ones. The definition and gray areas of that word “essential” make for a good discussion. But too often Libertarian minded folks have the reputation of giving up nothing in terms of liberty whehter for pragmatic reasons or for general defense.

    More folks are inspired and motivated by Ceaser than by Cicero. Its a fact of life; and while Cicero had the power of the pen, Ceaser had the power of the sword. In peace the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, but that does not reamin true during a raid.

  20. Heather what are the rules in your HOA ? Can you park RVs, boats and trucks in your driveway or on the street ?

    Most HOAs, IMHO, have draconian rules.

  21. 1) long-haul road development would be handicapped relative to surface street development

    This could very well result in more efficient transportation. Shipping cargo by rail is vastly more cost effective than shipping by truck. However, the private railroads must maintain their own track, whereas trucking lines have their roads provided for free. This distortion in market forces puts more trucks on the road and reduces demand for rail. Reduced demand means reduced revenue, which means less ability to maintain tracks. Most people are unaware of the poor condition of most of the rail in this country. Poor tracks mean reduced speeds, thus further diminishing market advantage. Getting more cargo off the Interstate and into trains could mean, cheaper goods at point of sale, as well as, faster smoother roads.

  22. Some may call where I live “east bum fuck” but I am 15 minutes from the capitol city. We also have private garbage service. The association dues and garbage fees combined are still lower than the town taxes we paid when we lived in town limits – not to mention we no longer have a water bill!

  23. So we’re talkin’ about exurban, privately planned and privately built communities. Most people live in urban and their near-by suburban edge cities and suburbs.

    Divide the map into a grid.

    Assign the roads in each grid section to the property owners abutting those roads.

    This might fuck over some property owners, but I’m honestly not all that concerned about that. I don’t really hold myself responsible for maintaining property values that have been created by our unjust transportation and land use policies, any more than I would have held myself responsible for making slave owners whole for their “property losses”.

  24. Omigosh. You mean to tell me that private roads work in some circumstances and public roads work better in other circumstances? Wowsers.

  25. You got me there, Woofyman. We cannot park things like that in view – but most of our lots average several acres so we can park them on our property. Another downfall is we have to get HOA permission to remove any tree over 6 inches around, fences must be approved, and a few other draconian things like that. But here is the important thing – we all knew that beforehand and agreed to the rules. When I lived in town I had to get permission and pay a fee to the town just to have a yard sale! WTF??!?!

  26. If roads where “private” isn’t the economic incentive to make them interoperable? It would seem that more interoperable -> more demand.

    Also, in developments where the roads are the responsibility of the property owners, aren’t some of the “commons” problems removed from their upkeep?

    No one would want to live where the roads weren’t interoperable.

  27. ed,

    The libertarians with the minimal government defeat the thugs. Its the anarchist village nearby that loses.

  28. Do you have management companies maintaining their own Departments of Transportation? Generally no. They contract with individual companies for snow removal, surface maintenance, line painting, etc. I imagine that even when scaled up the same approach would make sense. Those companies would compete.

    Well, that’s not a problem with govt ownership of the roads per se. A local govt can just as easily contract with third parties for road maintenance.

    And the individual property owners who would make up the membership of groups that are maintaining roads are competing with other property owners – real estate has a resale value, and if your project falls into disrepair you are effectively outcompeted by other property owners.

    Sort of like towns have incentive to keep property values up so they maintain property tax revenue. Again, little difference in practice.

    Obviously you would have variation in the quality of roads and the quality of road upkeep. But that exists now, really. And you’d also have property owners whose interests were damaged by the fact that their association fucks up. But you also have that now already, too.

    Great. So, no benefits really. And I still don’t see how you’re going to convert existing urban centers into privatized road systems without totally screwing them up. This always seems to me to be an area where extreme libertarians want to privatize for privatization’s sake, regardless of whether it actually works better than having the govt own the roads.

  29. This could very well result in more efficient transportation. Shipping cargo by rail is vastly more cost effective than shipping by truck.

    This is true.

    Had this development pattern been pursued from the beginning, we would probably have a nation of large urban areas, and small rural towns, linked by rail lines. A more advanced version of what existed prior to the automobile.

    There are obvious problems with grafting this system on to what we’ve already got, because we spent a century developing the country in exactly the wrong way – a way that will fuck us in the end.

    But those problems only prove that imposing a private system on top of an existing public system can create large losses of previous sunk costs. It doesn’t prove that a private system is stupid or impossible.

  30. While we’re at it, let’s privatize the airspace. Why should the FAA be able to tell us where and when we can fly ?

  31. crimethink,

    its not about conversion (although someone proposed that above) its about either:

    a. the way it should have been done
    or
    2. the way to do it going forward

    Since there are no advantages to government roads and some clear disadvantages (the rail transportation mentioned above) why not keep the current government roads (although the governments keep selling their interstates off for some reason) and let new ones develop privately?

  32. 1) long-haul road development would be handicapped relative to surface street development

    Good.

  33. Sorry to irk you, but I was referring to Doherty’s citing toll roads where you swipe your card getting on and off as proof that private roads can work.

    Brian referenced a “fast-track card reader”. Google finds only three hits for that, the only one in English being Brian’s article. But I’m sure he was referring not to a card reader but the RFID fast lanes. These could easily be installed on local roads. As already mentioned, the market might prefer other solutions, but this one is certainly available.

    Like Kinsley, crimethink come to the first bump in the road and throws up his hands.

  34. Turnpikes and other toll highways charge trucks higher rates per axle due to the higher damage they do to the road surface. Gas taxes also generally hit heavier, less fuel efficient vehicles disproportionately (which is a good thing). So, I think it would be a good idea to convert most interstates into toll roads outside of urban areas, and this would also tend to encourage rail vs. truck transportation.

  35. Great. So, no benefits really.

    Benefits:

    1. I can’t get forced to pay for building roads I don’t want built.

    2. If the guys in the next town over hire a crook to build their roads, I don’t suffer the loss – they do.

    3. The engine of sprawl is cut dead. Without the massive subsidy of “free” road construction, the further development of the urban rings becomes uneconomical. So I won’t be paying taxes to help some real estate developer realize a taxpayer-created profit.

    4. All the state DOT guys lose their jobs.

  36. robc,

    If someone wants to build new developments with private roads, I don’t have a problem with that if they can make it work. Fluffy’s suggesting that we try to shoehorn existing road systems into a privatized framework, which I don’t think is going to work.

  37. Fuckin’ RFID tags, great just great, so I can be tracked where-ever I drive.

    So each community of private road owners would be free to set the fee to use their roads ? Would that be clearly posted at every point ? Who would enforce it ? Would every private road system have it’s own traffic laws ?

  38. Warren,

    I didn’t know libertarians were so enamored with RFID devices documenting their travels in detail. Especially when doing so would be required if you want to use the roads at all!

  39. the lack of a coordinating body would probably lead to idiosyncratic street development, like in pre-automobile cities

    The trend in the 1950’s was coordinating bodies designing idiosyncratic street development on purpose.

    Private roads only makes sense if you live in east bum-fuck.

    The Chicago Skyway has been a private road for most of its existence. The Calumet region may not be the most aesthetic setting, but east bumfuck it ain’t.

  40. Fluffy’s suggesting that we try to shoehorn existing road systems into a privatized framework

    Its working for the states of Indiana and Illinois, which sold off parts of their interstates to a private company (I think its actually a 99 year lease, but anyway).

    Yeah, that isnt ALL roads, but they are shoehorning existing roads into a privatized framework.

  41. Fluffy’s suggesting that we try to shoehorn existing road systems into a privatized framework, which I don’t think is going to work.

    I would also accept a complete moratorium on all new public road construction. I wouldn’t be happy about the taxpayer maintaining the existing network, but to a certain extent that’s water under the bridge now.

  42. Yeah, what woofyman said!

    It’s bad enough that the turnpikes are now charging higher rates if you want to pay cash instead of having your movements tracked.

  43. How do they make their money ?

  44. I dont say this often, by we need joe in this thread.

    shudder

    I feel dirty.

  45. Finally, something I can agree with. No more fuckin’ roads. Here in Georgia, the DOT is really the DOR (Department of Roads).

  46. Its working for the states of Indiana and Illinois,

    Not only that, but the trend in some new housing developments in the city of Chicago is homeowner’s associations owning the side street, meaning the the homeowner’s contract for the maintenance. And they’re ususally through streets because the owners find them to be more useful than limiting the access.

  47. woofyman,

    Does the DOT “run” Marta?

    Its Smarta.

  48. Would every private road system have it’s own traffic laws?

    A world where different jurisdictions have slightly different rules for the use of their roads — different speed limits, parking restrictions, weight limits, and so on?

    The mind reels!

  49. MARTA is not run by the DOT. I live 1 block from a MARTA train station and I love it. I can take the train the my favorite watering hole and not worry about DUIs.

  50. Russ2000

    Here in Louisville, they are doing much the same thing. A friend of mine is Prez of his recently built HoA. They have to do all the road maintenance although they are technically city streets too. So, because of law, they cant ban people from parking on the streets. It didnt stop him from snow plowing them in last winter (unlike Chicago, we dont get enough snow to do that very often) though.

  51. Again, interstate highways and other limited access highways are perfect for becoming toll roads. You can only get on and off at a few places, so you pay when you get on or off, with a long distance of driving in between.

    That model is not going to work if you apply it to local streets or even highways that aren’t limited-access (ie, most of the US and state highways).

    The Chicago Skyway is the exception that proves the rule. There’s a lot of traffic traveling from the eastern Great Lakes and New York to Chicago and points west, and only a tiny swath of land south of Lake Michigan for it to travel through. You could build five toll roads in that area and still not keep up with demand.

  52. What’s the benefit to the HOA for this scheme ?

    Sounds like they’re paying extortion to the city for allowing the zoning to build the development.

  53. woofyman,

    My freshman year at Tech (1987) I was carless so used MARTA a bunch (North Ave to Lenox a lot). Then I bought a car and pretty much stopped using it, except to get to Braves games (Ga St station is a bit of a walk to the park, but faster than the MARTA buses).

  54. MARTA is not run by the DOT. I live 1 block from a MARTA train station and I love it. I can take the train the my favorite watering hole and not worry about DUIs.

    You’re Welcome

  55. Uh, the preceding comment was in response to the argument that IL/IN have shown that private roads work by “selling off” parts of their interstates. Of course, the Illinois Tollway and the Indiana Toll Road Corporation are essentially creatures of the state govts — they aren’t free to set up their own rules of the road, they can’t tell the state police to stop pulling people over for speeding, the state tells them how much they can charge, etc.

  56. All this talk about private roads is a distraction.

    Kinsley wants keep the focus things of lesser importance like that because he doesn’t want to discuss the main activity that government is involved in – deliberate wealth redistiribution. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, farm price supports, tax credits for solar panels, etc. etc.

    He doesn’t want to have a discussion about the validity of forcing one person to to subsidize another so he prattles about the impractability of privatizing city streets.

  57. Sounds like they’re paying extortion to the city for allowing the zoning to build the development.

    Pretty much. The city/state/county cant afford to do the road maintenance they need to do, so they use zoning changes to extort lots of road construction. A zoning change near where I used to live was going to result in a needed widening of a road and reconfiguring of an interchange. It was already planned without the zoning change but they were requiring the builders to do the road work to get the zoning change approved. This is normal here.

  58. You could build five toll roads in that area and still not keep up with demand.

    You’re only priving my point. The Borman Expressway – hell on earth. Government doesn’t seem to be doing any better at creting supply to meet the demand.

  59. Of course, the Illinois Tollway and the Indiana Toll Road Corporation are essentially creatures of the state govts

    Not true. The Chicago Skyway began its life as a private company. The City took it over after it was built – because the state built the toll-free Dan Ryan Expressway which destroyed the revenue of the Skyway.

  60. Interstate 80 across Penna. is a good example of a road that needs to be tolled. Apparently the state tax on diesel is less at both ends, Ohio and NJ, then in Pa. So long haul truckers can fill up before Pa. and get across the state without buying fuel – essentially a free ride on Pa. roads and taxpaying Pa. users.
    Of course, the tolling of I80 is all tied up in knots because locals’ potential tolls are more than what they might save in gas taxes if out of state truckers pay their fair share.

  61. creech,

    It seems PA could solve part of their problem by lowering their gas tax. Then the truckers will buy in state.

  62. creech: don’t forget that the PA Turnpike is an abomination unto the lord. I’ve driven hours out of my way by taking I-80 instead of paying the $20 toll and enduring the horrible potholey drive on I-76. God, I hate the Turnpike.

  63. All this talk about private roads is a distraction.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but in popular discussion of the failings of libertarianism roads have historically been the trump card.

    Markets, it is claimed, are bad at providing roads. For several decades, our gleaming interstate highway system was held up as a counterargument to the premises of libertarianism. In response to which most libertarians ran away with their tail between their legs, because what could be more American than hitting the open highway with Thunder Road blaring out of the car speakers?

    I beat this dead horse a lot, because the lifespan of that antilibertarian argument is drawing to a close. It will turn out, in the end, that the “market failure” in roadbuilding was actually a prescient success. When the chickens come home to roost on our orgy of roadbuilding [environmental, developmental, energy, capital chickens] we need to be ready to pounce on guys like Kinsley and beat them senseless rhetorically.

    It’s actually critically important, because when the shit hits the fan on the automobile society, statists everywhere will look at the flaws in their own handiwork – and blame capitalism. Joe’s just waiting out there for the opportunity to do this. 🙂

  64. Russ 2000,

    Uh, what’s stopping private companies from building roads there right now? It’s just not profitable to do so, given how densely populated the area is. You’d have to get the govt to use eminent domain on your behalf, and we all know how the forum collectively feels about that…

  65. All this talk about private roads is a distraction.

    Good point Gilbert. Everything the USDA does is naked corruption. Doing away with it should be a no brainer. There’s one area where ignoring the libertarians has cost this country dearly for generations. Dumping the DOE is all upside too. And then there’s WAR. War on drugs, war on terrorism, war on poverty, not to mention actual bombs and bullets killing people war. Whatever flaws libertarians have, they’re nowhere near the status quo.

  66. creech,

    Don’t they get funding from the federal govt to deal with that problem? I travel I-90 between Rochester and Chicago all the time, and always wonder how PA pays for maintaining that 40-mile stretch of highway where few people stop to buy gas or food or anything.

  67. Uh, what’s stopping private companies from building roads there right now? It’s just not profitable to do so, given how densely populated the area is.

    Right you are.

    But the next question is “what’s stopping GOVERNMENT from building roads there right now?”

    The fact is (and I know this because 2 uncles worked for IDOT as road planners) the plan to build a road from Illinois 53 all the way to I-65 near US 30 was drawn in the late 60’s, back when those areas were sparsely populated. 40 years later, about 30% of it (I-355) is built. But the fact that the state already had plans on the drawing board and was moving ahead with the project (albeit at a snail’s pace) is certainly going to be a deterrent from a private company from trying to compete.

  68. One is purely made of thugs, one is purely libertarian with a minimal government and the last has some liberties but very limited due to a needed protection force. It is strong enough to defend against the thug village, while the libertarian village gets mowed over and becomes slaves to the thug village.

    Compare to the world situation in 1946. The libertarian village is the U.S. The “limited liberties” village is the U.S.S.R. Obviously the U.S.S.R., giving up liberty to concentrate on building a stronger protection force will come to dominate the world, right?

    Wrong. Free people will always more vigorously, efficiently, and ingenuously protect their government than serfs will protect their master’s government. Giving up liberty has never, in world history, enhanced security.

    Shipping cargo by rail is vastly more cost effective than shipping by truck.

    Really? Is this still true when you count putting the goods on a truck, transporting them to the railhead, reloading them on a train, traveling to a different railhead, reloading them on a truck, then transporting them to their destination? Or are you going to build tracks to every warehouse and factory in the U.S?

    Rail also has a major problem in that it’s inflexible. Once you build the rail that’s where the population has to live. If the rail breaks, the train can’t go around the break. If a faster train is coming the first one has to pull off the main rail to let it pass. Picture a simple four-way stop intersection in rail.

    While rail may be more efficient per mile moving goods it is not efficient for moving passengers. At any distance where rail has an advantage over roads in moving people, you have a greater advantage moving them by air.

    In order to be truly efficient you would have to duplicate the existing road system, in rail, and that still wouldn’t accommodate private unscheduled trips that make up most roadway traffic.

    Of course those who believe the world should travel on mass transit don’t care about the freedom to make unscheduled trips.

  69. crimethink,

    GA does a VERY good job of maintaining their tiny stretch of I-24, despite there being no exits other than I-59 to Alabama. Actually, looking at a map, there is 1 exit, #169, but I dont even think you can buy gas there. As often as Ive driven by there, Ive never considered getting off at that exit and Ive been low on gas at that point many times.

  70. Shipping cargo by rail is vastly more cost effective than shipping by truck.

    It takes about two days for some rail shipments to get through the city of Chicago.

  71. Roadways, and their intersections in particular, have served as the setting for civil society, literally the public space in which community life happens, since the beginning of human settlement. Main crossroads are where markets first began. What do we call it when the people stand up against government oppression and demand their rights? “Taking to the streets.”

    They are not just machines for moving cars, they define the existance of a public life. It is a testament to the inadequacy of libertarianism to define the good society that this subject could even be raised.

  72. So can one believe there is a legitimate role for government to play in building public infrastructure (like roadways) and still be allowed to call oneself a libertarian?

  73. “They are not just machines for moving cars, they define the existance of a public life. It is a testament to the inadequacy of libertarianism to define the good society that this subject could even be raised.”

    lol, romanticizing asphalt

  74. It’s the problem of all “tear it down and start over” political schemes: the sheer ahistorical blinkeredness of it all.

    Bingo, Le Corbusier and Robert Moses would join you in your chuckle.

  75. Roadways, and their intersections in particular, have served as the setting for civil society, literally the public space in which community life happens, since the beginning of human settlement. Main crossroads are where markets first began. What do we call it when the people stand up against government oppression and demand their rights? “Taking to the streets.”

    They are not just machines for moving cars, they define the existance of a public life. It is a testament to the inadequacy of libertarianism to define the good society that this subject could even be raised.

    Strange, in another thread you asserted that public roads no longer constitute any sort of commons in the historical sense, and that we should usurp the private property rights of shopping center owners to create new commons.

  76. kinnath,

    I think you have to add another prefix to your libertarian classification. I guess that makes me a roadipaleotarian.

  77. Roadways, and their intersections in particular, have served as the setting for civil society,

    yes, even in the absence of a government.

  78. Bingo, Le Corbusier and Robert Moses would join you in your chuckle.

    I take it all back. I’d better get off that train.

  79. It’s the problem of all “tear it down and start over” political schemes: the sheer ahistorical blinkeredness of it all.

    Sunk cost fallacy.

    Like many of our other social engineering experiments from the last century, or transportation and land use policies were apparently successful only because our temporary demographics helped them out. We also had a largely unspoiled continent to destroy, and to generate economic activity while doing it.

    It may be unhistorical to think we can start over, but we also won’t be able to continue as we are, even if the magical hydrogen fairy rides to the rescue.

  80. Fluffy,

    Yep, the way we’ve built our settlements has vastly reduced the scope of our public sphere. We’ve degraded the public places that do exist, while building new roadways in a manner that make them unfit for that purpose, and then recreating facsimiles of those public spaces that are under the control of private parties, and thus lack their dynamism and freedom. All the same point. I’m not seeing the humor.

  81. Nice article. But I believe there’s an unrecognized “third wing” of libertarianism: I call “theoretical asympotic anarchism/applied less-archism.”

    It happens to be my approach, and it tables the anarchist/minarchist divide, saying that in theory we can’t really be sure if a minimal government or no government is necessarily optimal. Instead, we should focus on reducing the State until the question of limited or no government becomes relevant.

  82. Russ2000,

    Roadways are a function of government, just like marketplaces. They exist and are kept in a state that allows them to function as public spaces by the King’s men. You center your political beliefs around something called markets, and you don’t even know their history.

    Fluffy,

    For that to be a sunken cost fallacy, I would have to argue that we should follow that model because we’ve invested in it. What I actually did is argue that we should follow that model because it’s better. The sentence you quoted was about your ignorance of what roads are and wdhat they do. So, no, not a sunken cost fallacy, a commentary on your blinkeredness.

  83. I inhabit this weird little world where zoning ordinances would OK so long as libertarians are in charge — zoning would be the minimum set of rules to allow efficient development with minimal conflict between competing private interests. The major problem with zoning commissions is that they are populated with people that think government has this moral obligation to shape society.

    And I have similar philosophy on public infrastructures. In area of dense population, there is probably some benefit that comes from cooperative ownership and development through the mechanism of government, although home owners associations are probably more efficient on the scale of neighborhoods.

  84. At any distance where rail has an advantage over roads in moving people, you have a greater advantage moving them by air.

    Such thinking has led to the absolute disaster that is every airport in the Northeast.

  85. On the other hand, Fluffy, your last point is quite right; we can’t go on like this, and the argument about whether we should return to building communities in the traditional manner is going to be settled for us by the sheer impossibility of sustaining the path we’ve chosen.

  86. First, I rarely agree with Gilbert Martin, but he’s right: Roads are a minor issue compared with Social Security and Medicare.

    Second, even in gated communities with privately owned streets, there’s still a local monopoly under the control of whatever entity sets the rules for the locale. Yes, yes, I’m aware that there are differences between local government and gated communities, but there are also similarities. I’m not sure that pointing to the existence of private roads in gated communities carries quite the same implications as, say, successful private schools.

  87. Why is the Dave W argument “you can always move” absurd when the subject is the government of a town of 5000, and the last word when the subject is a mega-development in Texas with a population and land area an order of magnitude larger?

  88. “I understand where you’re coming from, but in popular discussion of the failings of libertarianism roads have historically been the trump card.”

    Well I don’t see how roads could be a “trump card” over anything else. Each issue stands on it’s own. Furthermore, opposition to goverment redistribution schemes is not just based on libertarian philosophy and one doesn’t have to rely on it to oppose them.

    It is also based on the concept of the basic rule of law. The Constitution is the highest law of the land and the 10th Amendment confines the federal government to ennumerated powers. There are no ennumerated powers in the text of the Constitution that authorize those activities.

  89. Yep, the way we’ve built our settlements has vastly reduced the scope of our public sphere

    If by “we”, you mean “the state”, then I agree with this statement.

    Remember, I am arguing that the state has done a shitty job, and the its record of roadbuilding no longer counts as the kind of strong argument against libertarianism that Kinsley thinks it does.

    We’ve degraded the public places that do exist, while building new roadways in a manner that make them unfit for that purpose

    We’ve also degraded the private spaces that have been brought into existence, because we’ve forced them to wedge themselves into the maladjusted quasimarket created by our policies. I agree with this too. I simply will re-assert that the “we” here is “the state”. Not Fluffy. Not Joe.

    and then recreating facsimiles of those public spaces that are under the control of private parties, and thus lack their dynamism and freedom.

    I am more free to express myself politically on my own property than on public property. Under a libertarian system, I’d also have more “dynamism” on my own property.

    The public spaces created by the state have a pretty shitty record in free expression terms compared to private spaces as it is, Joe. And it gets worse every year. Have fun trying to put on a production of Hair on a public street. The free expression record of private newspaper owners, theatre owners, book publishers, movie producers, website hosts, etc. blows the historical record of US public places away. You’ve got the March on Washington and that’s about it.

    And I would submit that the depressing pallor of those “facsimiles of public places” is largely related to factors intimately connected with our transportation policies and land use policies, for reasons we’ve discussed before. The very policies I’m disputing.

  90. Why is the Dave W argument “you can always move” absurd

    Because it’s the Dan T. argument and therefore absurd by definition.

    The Dave W. argument involves corn syrup and bumped guns and is crazy, not merely absurd.

  91. Its the anarchist village nearby that loses.

    I don’t know if we can call Ireland of the past as anarchistic, but it did take the might of England hundreds of years to conquer it.
    It’s much easier to conquer a people if you can take over their government.

  92. It’s pieces like this that make Brian Doherty my favorite Reason writer.

    Kinsley was being a total douche and you called him out on it in a gentlemanly way. Too bad the average reader won’t see it that way, but who actually reads the LA Times blogs anyway? They’ll just see “ha ha, people who think funny things!”

    Bully for you, though.

  93. “Why is the Dave W argument”

    joe – sigh – is it time for a refresher course on “know your H&R wackjobs”?

    stay toond. (grins, ducks)
    llama llama llama llama
    llama llama duck.

  94. we can’t go on like this, and the argument about whether we should return to building communities in the traditional manner is going to be settled for us by the sheer impossibility of sustaining the path we’ve chosen.

    Well, I argue that as long as you grant the state the ability to fund large scale road transportation projects, and to set land use rules designed to accomodate the needs of those projects, we aren’t going to return to anything.

    We’re going to ride this model right over the cliff. Because the system as designed militates towards that.

    You think that planners will wake up and realize they’ve fucked up. I think they won’t, and that the only way to stop them is to take their power away.

    Time will tell which one of us is right.

  95. Fluffy,

    Lord knows I’m not going to argue against the contention that the massive program of social engineering known as “sprawl” has been imposed by the government, but let’s not pretend that the private sector had to be dragged kicking and screaming along for the ride. The people who actually built those private spaces – the builders, the developers – weren’t rising up against the standards and regulations. They drew up the standards and regulations alongside the planners, and sit on the boards enforcing them. This is a society problem, with public and private sector aspects.

    I am more free to express myself politically on my own property than on public property. Under a libertarian system, I’d also have more “dynamism” on my own property. And I am less free to express myself on your property. When there is no public space at all, we end up not just less free, but we don’t end up expressing ourselves to each other at all.

    Srsly, have you noticed how much I stick out like a sore thumb on these threads? The libertarians to talk to each other on their property, the liberals go talk to each other in their living rooms, and we lose that dynamic give and take within a diverse population that used to characterize the agora and the sidewalk.

    Just as a note, Fluffy, I am impressed by how nuanced and sophisticated your ideas on this subject are. For a feelthy market fetishist. 😉

  96. Fluffy,

    You think that planners will wake up and realize they’ve fucked up. You don’t think they have?

    Why do you think the New Urbanists are in such demand at builders’ conventions? Because the planners figured out the problem they helped cause two decades ago, the builders are just catching on now, and are looking for a solution.

  97. Fluffy, 90% of planners’ criticisms of the existing built model amount to lamentations over regulations that forbid building in a more natural, smarter manner that incorporates the wisdom of the ages.

    Did you ever read any paleo-con criticisms of the Highway program and Urban Renewal back in the 50s? “Those socialist central planners think they’re so smart, but they’re ignoring the wisdom of the ages.” Well, the Birchers were right. There. I said it.

  98. Lord knows I’m not going to argue against the contention that the massive program of social engineering known as “sprawl” has been imposed by the government … This is a society problem, with public and private sector aspects.

    Agreed. In most parts of Europe, the government did the opposite as in the US, and with pretty good results in most areas.

  99. Who’s the nerd in the picture?

  100. Well, the Birchers were right. There. I said it.

    One of my guilty pleasures is reading John Birch Society screeds. That and Lew Rockwell. Hi, Lew!

  101. Lord knows I’m not going to argue against the contention that the massive program of social engineering known as “sprawl” has been imposed by the government … This is a society problem, with public and private sector aspects.

    Absolutely. And while I haven’t managed to read every comment so far, I’d just like to address those who think that roads can’t be privatized on a more local level.

    WRT the issue quoted above, can you seriously tell me that you’re ok with the government subsidy that is road building, be it local or otherwise? Its major externality is that it creates land value that didn’t previously exist. It favors some at the expense of others.

    Also, get over the whole “we’d have to have toll booths at all intersections,” thing. We have emerging technology which will eventually make the whole thing 100X easier. Or there’s the solution that Fluffy proposed (or seemed to, based on what I’ve read) where the owner of the adjacent land has responsibility for the road used to access their property.

  102. Competing defense companies would have to wage aggressive war on their own dime. IOW, they do not have the power to tax everyone in a monopolistic geographical area to wage a war of choice in a foreign land. If they suffer losses, it is losses to their own property, not the expropriated property of others.

  103. It’s not like all the planners got together in 1950 and said “let’s gut the cities and create sprawl”. The momentum was building for decades and most of the population was perfectly happy to go along with it. Like any large group, planners did not all think alike. The ones who became most successful are the ones whose policies dovetails with America’s already existing desire to “sprawl”. The ones who urged caution were probably laughed out of town.

  104. You have to bread down “roadbuilding,” Reinmoose. There are different types of projects.

    Personally, I like the government to lay out the right of way according to sound design principles (ones that incorporate values other than the swift passage of automobiles, btw), and if a developer wants to build there, he can put in the asphalt and utilities.

    Or there’s the solution that Fluffy proposed (or seemed to, based on what I’ve read) where the owner of the adjacent land has responsibility for the road used to access their property.

    What if the guy at 101 Main Street sez “No Jews?”

  105. 90% of planners’ criticisms of the existing built model amount to lamentations over regulations that forbid building in a more natural, smarter manner that incorporates the wisdom of the ages.

    This is why Ive asked you in the past to join us in opposed ALL zoning regs. Yeah, there are some you favor. But, the “good” ones allow the “bad” ones to live on. Yes, without them there would still be some fucked up projects, but it would give you all the chance at the natural, smarter manner.

    This is like the argument about “with the right people elected the laws will be good”. Nope. Everyone, including libertarians, gets corrupted when they get power. There is no “good person” exception to Acton.

    Well, the Birchers were right. There. I said it.

    Now a certain group of libertarians whose lame name I promised not to use again will never allow you to run for president.

  106. AS for defense, consider the history of Ireland. They were only totally free for a little over a century, considering the Danes occupied Dublin. Then the anarchist Irish joined forced under Brian Boru and drove them out. Then slowly the English came over, and the anarchist Irish succumbed completely to English rule under Cromwell c 1640. Still, they had a thousand years of extreme liberty under an anarchist system that functioned well for defense.

    Every time the Irish tried to use nation state tactics to rebel, they were crushed, up to the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Then, despite finally getting world opinion on their side, they risked it all to fight an anarchist guerrilla war under Michael Collins. That anarchist type warfare was successful, except for Northern Ireland, and the South became the Irish Free State.

    BTW, the Irish tactics are studied by all modern insurgents, including the Arabs, today.

  107. What if the guy at 101 Main Street sez “No Jews?”

    oh! oh! oh! I know! I know! i know!

    [triumphantly] He is at Ron Paul’s local campaign office.

    [wanders off in search of his meds]

  108. Yep, the way we’ve built our settlements has vastly reduced the scope of our public sphere.

    I’m wondering how “public sphere” is defined here, and what the historical baseline is to assert that it has been reduced.

    My gut reaction is that the public sphere, meaning that zone of life that is not private, has never been bigger. The tide isn’t running against a “public sphere”, it is running against both the private sphere and the civil society sphere, and in favor of the state sphere.

  109. Irish anarchists?

    I suppose there might have been a few, but it is ahistorical at best to characterize anything in pre-nation-state Europe as “anarchist” – the concept simply didn’t exist.

    I had always thought Michael Collins was an Irish nationalist trying to replace the British state with an Irish state, which doesn’t make him any kind of anarchist, but I’m no expert on the minutiae of Irish affairs.

  110. At the risk of being labeled a Lew Rockwell neo-Confederate, consider this mental exercise.

    Jefferson Davis strategy boiled down to defend Richmond at all costs as the Capitol of the new state. Spend much more on that than on defending New Orleans, Vicksburg, Atlanta, Etc. Try to get another nation state, England, to recognize and assist the Confederacy. Depend on the genius of generals to outmaneuver larger and better equipped Union Armies.

    What if, instead, he took a guerrilla army approach? What if his objective was not to be another recognized Nation State, but simply to win the best way? The alternative then would be to use the armies not to hold territory, such as Richmond, but in combination with guerrilla forces (Much like George Washington did in our Revolutionary war, or the Vietnamese did in the 1960’s) to harrass and bleed the Union Armies?

    Of couse, that might have meant the slaves would have run away in greater numbers. The landowning propertied classes would not have liked that. So, they did not go that route.

    If they had, they might have won the war, and been free. But, they might have lost the slave system as well.

    My point? The nation state system is NOT as good a system for defense as many assume it to be.

  111. You have to bread down “roadbuilding,” Reinmoose. There are different types of projects.

    Personally, I like the government to lay out the right of way according to sound design principles (ones that incorporate values other than the swift passage of automobiles, btw), and if a developer wants to build there, he can put in the asphalt and utilities.

    First let me just say that it must be Friday, because I just Googled the term “bread down” before I realized that you actually meant “break down.” Sheesh.

    As a general rule, I don’t like the government to dabble in values. The proposal you make isn’t one I’ve seen before, so I’d be interested in hearing more about it. On its face, it looks better than the current system, anyway.

    What if the guy at 101 Main Street sez “No Jews?”

    Yeah, I know there are complications with anyone owning anything. Democracies are a real bitch when it comes to anything that affects a certain group of people. City-imposed youth curfews come to mind as an example of government still officially having different rules for different people.

    I can expand on any one theory of how private roads would eliminate that sort of behavior, but there’s no absolute guarantee that sort of thing couldn’t happen. If anyone would like to hear those theories, I’ll be happy to expand. But none of them will reach 100% satisfaction, I’m guessing.

  112. libertreee

    Not exactly to your point but Longstreet wanted to dig trenches across Northern Virginia and fight a defensive war until the north gave up.

  113. robc,

    I’m more interested in actual reform than passing your purity test. But then, I’m more interested in the actual experience of operating within the built environment than some grand ideological project, so that’s not too surprising. You know what a better, smarter zoning code has over the total elimination of zoning, even from your p.o.v.? It might actually happen.

    If you don’t like zoning, fine. If you recognize that it would better to allow corner stores in residential areas than to ban them, wonderful. New Urbanist-inspired zoning codes are going to get those stores on those corners, and do so by expanding the freedom of property owners to choose how to use their land. We can have discussions amongst ourselves about the best type of zoning reform, but first we have to recognize that we are “ourselves.” There are those who want to keep imposing sprawl on the landscape (most suburban homeowners, for example) and those of us who want to repeal the laws that do so.

    RC Dean,

    You need only look at studies of how much time a dweller in an old city, pre-50s suburb, or small town spends in actual public spaces vs. the amount spent there by those who live in sprawlville to answer your question.

    Now, those suburbs likely have large areas of land set aside as public land – ballfields, conservation land – that one can drive to if one is sufficiently motivated – but the day-to-day experience that everybody had in 1776, that of running into one’s fellow townsfolk, has dwindled.

  114. The Irish were anarchists in the sense they had no central government, or anything like a modern government. The High King had mostly ceremonial power, he did NOT make laws, and did not TAX, and could be sued like anyone else.

    I did not say ( or mean to say) that Michael Collins was an anarchist. What I tried to convey in a very short post is that his style of guerrilla war won out over the nation state style of war,i.e. wear a uniform so that the world will recognize us, but be crushed trying it, that characterized Irish rebellions up to the Easter Uprising. This policy was the policy of Eamon de Valera.

    My main point, again, is that the nation state’s justification as the best way to provide for a common defense can be attacked historically as well as theoretically.

  115. No no, “bread down.” It’s a technical term. I have a masters degree!

    I suggest you read, um, “Sound Planning Principles are Like Baking” by Moosey Notmadeup and Jonas Real before you embarrass yourself any further.

  116. joe,

    There is no purity test. I will support less zoning laws over more as incremental improvement. I am just honest about the ultimate goal. But, you know what? I never see the incremental improvement actually happen.

    I consider both to have the exact same chance of happening – zero. As another example, I think there is actually a better chance of eliminating the income tax than there is in getting something like a flat tax. Reagan got us down to 3 brackets but look where we are now.

    I figure if you are going to tilt at windmills, might as well go for the damn big one.

  117. joe,

    New Urbanist-inspired zoning codes are going to get those stores on those corners, and do so by expanding the freedom of property owners to choose how to use their land.

    There are more people that own land between the corners than on them. What about their freedom? The New Urbanists seem awful picky about who they are willing to give freedom to. I think it might be because freedom isnt their ultimate value.

  118. But, you know what? I never see the incremental improvement actually happen.

    You must not be looking, then. Neo-trad design principles are taking over both the public- and private-sector ends of citybuilding. I helped do it in my own city when I worked there, for example. You might not like the fact that there are still zoning districts, but the fact that areas were changed from residential-only to mixed use, or that owners can now do by permit what used to be forbidden, has resulted in, for example, old houses being remodeled to add a storefronts on the ground floor. That is a change to a more natural and organic model, brought about by an expansion of the owners’ freedom.

  119. So, robc, does allowing the people on the corners to build stores when they couldn’t before represent an expansion of freedom or not?

    And no, anarchist-style property rights are not “the ultimate goal.” You know what? You’re not going to see your ultiimate goal, because it is the ultimate goal of about 3% of the population.

    Like I said, I’m more interested in seeing places built better, and recognize that that means, mostly, deregulation.

    There are two sides in this debate, and the sidelines. And as always, sitting on the sidelines is a vote for the incumbent.

  120. joe,

    I see them doing this within the current zoning laws, its still the same people approving whatever the “right” builders/planners tell them to approve. They are just approving more of the stuff you like now.

    There is no systematic improvement.

  121. joe,

    There are way more than 2 sides to every debate.

  122. You’re not going to see your ultiimate goal, because it is the ultimate goal of about 3% of the population.

    So what? I should stop fighting because I have no chance to succeed? Thats a defeatist attitude. I may never see my goal but to give up guarantees it.

  123. There are way more than 2 sides to every debate.

    Maybe, but there are 2 sides to a fight, and this is now a fight.

    You either deregulate the zoning codes without tossing them out, or you defend the zoning codes, or you’re on the sidelines. The play’s been called, number 85. Are you going to run your route, or are you on the bench?

  124. “And as always, sitting on the sidelines is a vote for the incumbent.”

    two snaps hier, for that!

  125. You aren’t fighting, robc. You’re talking.

    By all means, keep talking. The complete repeal of zoning codes isn’t before any city councils. Reforms that reduce parking requirements, mandatory setbacks, and use limitations are.

    Are you on the bus, or are you off the bus?

  126. joe,

    Like I said above, I dont oppose deregulation. But, you tell me one place where deregulation vs differently regulated has occured. For example, give me a major US city that has said “all previously residential zoned neighborhoods are now mixed used” as opposed to “this currently residential neighborhood has asked to be changed to mixed use and we approve it”.

    The first is deregulation (without elimination), the second is differently regulated.

    I dont think deregulation is occurring. I have seen plenty of the second thing above. But not the first. I could be wrong, I would be happy to be. But much like the CA power “deregulation”, I dont think you are referring to real deregulation.

  127. Oh, and robc? This didn’t become a fight becasue libertarians advocated for their ideas about property rights.

    It became a fight because planners and designers advocated for their ideas about places.

    It’s not your movement, it’s ours, but it can move the ball in the direction you want.

  128. Enemy of the good, robc.

  129. The complete repeal of zoning codes isn’t before any city councils.

    Thats because the people with the power to affect zoning codes, like planners and developers (in other words, people like you, or at least who you used to be) dont push/lobby/bribe for it. Thats why Im asking you to get aboard. Once the zoning laws are gone, you all getting develop properly without the zoning boards interferring.

  130. Im still on the Ron Paul bandwagon.

    Dont talk to me about enemy of the good bullshit.

    Also, where have I said I opposed the “good” you are pushing. Im just asking for you to push for the perfect.

  131. Maybe, but there are 2 sides to a fight, and this is now a fight.

    Waht fight? As far as I can tell, the new design stuff always gets its way before the zoning boards, as long as they have the “proper” developers behind it greasing the way.

  132. Those wacky libertarians and their pie-in-the-sky notions of private property. Get with it!

    I prefer to fall in line with the sagacious advice of Kinsely, who wisely admonishes against the monstrosity that is raw milk.

    It is heartening to see that the War On Cows is gathering steam!

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,201369,00.html

  133. robc,

    I think you vastly overestimate the control planners have over zoning codes. We push as far as we can go, but you know what? People have adopted sprawl, segregation of uses, and segregation of incomes as their core beliefs about how to build. I’ve done something about that, I’ve changed minds, I’ve changed laws, and you’ve talked. So don’t lecture me about how much I’ve pushed. I’ve actually moved things. I’ve put changes before the City Council and gotten 80%. You’d prefer I’d do something radical and lose?

    This is where the bit about effecting change vs. purity test comes into play.

    Once the zoning laws are gone… we’ll get fucking ponies and Iraq will turn into a warm Minnesota first.

    Give me one good reason why one property owner who might have opened the corner store he wants should be held hostage to your purity test.

  134. As far as I can tell, the new design stuff always gets its way before the zoning boards

    You’re welcome.

  135. Do you think people who are terrified of non-exclusive zoning are going to support the zoning elimination you propose more if they see a corner store go in down the street, or less?

  136. I just read my 12:59 comment, and damn, I went all Donderoooooo there, didn’t I?

    I petitioned in the snow! I gave Murray Rothbard a backrub! Who the fuck are you?!?

  137. Richard:

    That there is a mega-WTF, on about 30 levels.

  138. Well, the Birchers were right. There. I said it.

    I don’t think that’s really joe. I think Lew Rockwell is ghost-writing joe’s posts.

  139. and that was Gunnels ghostwriting for Doktor T.

  140. AND I WRITE FOR THUNDERCHICKEN.

  141. OK, I’m calm.

    robc, I hope I didn’t offend.

    I don’t wish to join your cause of eliminating all land use regulation, because I don’t agree with you. I beleive that are sound reasons to regulate some things. I even think there are sound reasons to regulate many of the things currently regulated.

    We don’t need to agree on the ultimate vision to be allies on a tactical level. If there is a bill to allow people who currently can only build single family homes to put in two families or a storefront of the ground floor, we should join together to support that. If there is a proposal to reduce the minimum pavement width in a new subdivision from 40 feet to 20 feet, we should each support that, and we can each do so for our own reasons.

    You keep saying that you are not opposed to gradual zoning rollback, but I look at your statement that any less than throwing the book out is simply changing regulations, and it tells me the opposite. There is more, and there is less.

    And what’s more, we should be able to agree on the level of principle about certain things, such as that the the sprawl landscape we see is a consequence of over-regulation and perverse subsidy, and that it has created serious negative effects. We can agree that this imposition of a single planning model through these regulations has stifled experimentation and resulted in a less-dynamic society. And much more.

    We don’t need to be co-partisans, robc. We can be allies.

  142. joe,


    You’d prefer I’d do something radical and lose?

    I would prefer you do something radical and win.

  143. I never understood why the Confederacy moved the capital to Richmond. If they had placed it in Tallahassee or somewhere down there, they wouldn’t have had to provide for its defense at all; the armies defending Richmond, Atlanta, and New Orleans would also in effect defend the capital.

  144. and that was Gunnels ghostwriting for Doktor T.

    The style, tone, manner, etc. are not consistent with Gunnels. I suggest you re-read his old posts before you embarrass yourself any further.

    Anyway, numerous philosophers of the classical period discussed this very issue of identity and language.

  145. joe,

    You keep saying that you are not opposed to gradual zoning rollback, but I look at your statement that any less than throwing the book out is simply changing regulations, and it tells me the opposite.

    I suggested turning all residential into multi-use. How is that throwing the book out? That is a major concession to even allow multi-use zoning regulation, I thought.

    As an example, while I favor eliminating the income tax, I would “accept” a 15% flat tax with spending cuts down to a balanced budget. Yet, when I ask people to meet me half way (which is what that suggestion is, basically) Im called a radical?

  146. robc,

    I would prefer you do something radical and win. Yeah, a pony would be nice, too.

    For all the change I’ve accomplished, it’s been mostly an exercise in repeatedly lowering my sights.

    You probably wouldn’t count what I’ve done as adding up to very much, but it’s made a difference, and hopefully laid the groundwork for even more.

  147. joe

    robc, I hope I didn’t offend.

    It is virtually impossible. The Donderoesque stuff was beginning to piss me off and I couldnt figure out why. Im glad you recognized it. Is there a name for that fallacy, the “appeal to I worked harder in the snow that you” fallacy?

    We can be allies.

    Sure, but you have to meet me half way. See my previous post for an example of half way.

    You’re welcome.

    Congrats. If you are winning all the battles, it aint a fight. Thats my point. Trying fighting at the level where you only win 60% of the time, you will actually achieve more that way.

  148. Yes, robc. That is radical.

    Getting my City Council to meet even MY goals halfway in one fell swoop is the stuff of fantasy. I say this about a city that is proud of how progressive, multi-use, dense (meaning, extremely loose density regulations) zoning has allowed a major renaissance to take place.

    You tell me it’s the institutions? You’d better free THEIR minds instead.

    And that’s what incremental progress does.

  149. Beltway Boys is code for “jew”

  150. joe,

    Incremental changes makes them think they are mostly right.

    See the New Zealand example from the 80s. They discovered that incremental spending cuts (yeah, it may not be directly applicable, but close enough) dont work, you have to cut across the board or all the little groups will fight you. Sure, their successes didnt last, but it gave us an example of how incremental change doesnt work. And how radical change can work.

    (Well, incremental does work in making things worse, it just doesnt work in the opposite direction)

  151. It is strong enough to defend against the thug village, while the libertarian village gets mowed over and becomes slaves to the thug village. A sort of Darwiniam of politics has the libertarians as a political realm extinct.

    Wha…? Why do you assume that a group of individuals is not strong enough to defend itself against a group of thugs? Is a belief in government coercion necessary to fight effectively? Why are my guns less accurate and my tactics less effective because I do not submit involuntarily to authority? Is it because I have to swipe my card at each intersection as I drive my carload of volunteer militia members to the fight?

  152. robc,

    Incremental changes makes them think they are mostly right.

    Meaning, it makes them see that they are a little wrong. Camel, nose, and all of that. You see?

    Do you think people who passionately believe that stores need to be kept away from houses will start thinking more along your lines, or less, if they see a corner store go in under a special permit?

  153. robc,

    I’ve said my peace. Unless you have a new insight, I’m prepared to issue a death certificate for this particular equine.

  154. joe,

    if they see a corner store go in under a special permit?

    The will think its okay because its on the corner and not next to their house.

    Really, is this a problem in most places? Around here, corners (at least between neighborhood streets and major and/or cut thrus) are almost all commercial. The corner store is the norm. So allowing the norm isnt going to change anyone’s mind.

    In the neighborhood I grew up in and my parents still live in, the “corner stores” want back a full block all the way to my parents street. So, we had a drive thru liquor store and a fish restaurant within the neighborhood.

  155. robc,

    I’m glad you live in such a place, but in a more sprawling area, the little local streets are often purely residential, and you need to go to a major collector road to get to a strip that is purely commercial.

    When I say “on the corner,” I’m talking about at the entrance from a neighborhood through road to a decent-sized subdivision, for example, or at the junction of two through streets in a big subdivision.

    Your parents n’hood sounds nice.

  156. I suggest you re-read his old posts before you embarrass yourself any further.

    Ah, memories 🙂

  157. sure you friggin web monkeys…you let my snarky “everything is code for jew” comment to get through but not my well thought out “why private funding and ownership of commercial and residential roads would work even better then toll roads” fall into the nether lost forever.

    Damn you web monkeys!!!

  158. joe,

    Your parents n’hood sounds nice.

    It was fine. Our house was only broken into 3 times before I was in high school. Many of my friends wouldnt come to it at night. But I had no problems with it. Oh, and there was only 1 Klan march within a block of our home.

    I blame the 70s, not the neighborhood.

    When I say “on the corner,” I’m talking about at the entrance from a neighborhood through road to a decent-sized subdivision, for example, or at the junction of two through streets in a big subdivision.

    Thats what I mean too. My current street has a Quiznos on the corner. And some hippy clothing store. Now, my corner is US-60, so it might be a bit bigger than some streets you are referring to.

  159. Are we really having the private roads discussion? What’s next, a lengthy discourse on the merits of private garbage collection?

  160. robc,

    The 70s don’t sound very nice.

    Klan march? Good Lord!

    And, uh, yeah, I’m not talking about where two 120′ roads on the edges of superblocks meet.

  161. robc,
    Never, ever, EVER, say we need joe in this thread. Besides, the poor schmoe needs to get a life besides posting his asinine comments.

  162. I would say that the talk about market distortion in favor of trucking doesn’t really work, because the interstate highways are maintained with a gasoline excise tax (sort of approximating a user fee). Therefore, the costs of maintaining the roads DO end up being reflected in trucking companies’ bottom lines. I would say that we should look for different factors to explain the stagnation of railroads in the US.

  163. Oops! Heh heh! Didn’t see ye there, Joe. That whole “poor Schmoe” thing was just a BIG misunderstanding. Riigghht *cough cough*.

  164. Srsly, have you noticed how much I stick out like a sore thumb on these threads?

    A budding young libertarian myself, I have to say that joe is definitely a major factor drawing me back to these threads. Thanks, joe, for intruding rudely, and often eloquently, on the H&R echo chamber!

  165. Anyone who wants to know why we have roads vs. rail is directed to a good history book about the “Octopus” and similar activity.

    It’s a good example of badly-timed legislation to solve a big problem that could have been handled much better.

    It also shows why you really don’t want a monopoly around.

  166. Anyone who wants to know why we have roads vs. rail….

    People like cars and trucks. They take you right where you want to go, whenever you want to be there.Trains are good for commodities/raw materials and large loads of manufactured items.

  167. People like cars and trucks when they take you right where you want to go, whenever you want to be there.

    When trains do that better, people like trains better. That’s why 90% of the trips into Manhattan during the weekday commute are via public transit.

  168. joshua corning | January 18, 2008, 2:28pm | #
    sure you friggin web monkeys…you let my snarky “everything is code for jew” comment to get through but not my well thought out “why private funding and ownership of commercial and residential roads would work even better then toll roads” fall into the nether lost forever.

    There’s this thing called the back button…

  169. As for private roads: please be sensible, both sides. College campuses and large industrial premises and vacation parks and apartment complexes all contain streets and are often private. These things tend to work just fine. At the same time, downtown San Francisco was built on the assumption of public road ownership, and those assumptions have been baked into the layout and the architecture in a way that makes it hard to privatize roads after the fact. This is not a tremendously big deal as long as the public authority that owns the road is a low-level, small, local one (say a city council, or better yet, a borough or ward) so that in practice you have the option to select what authority you live under, even if in theory there is a territorial monopoly of force.

  170. It is truly hilarious when people call Fred or Rudy ‘libertarian’.

    They wouldn’t know libertarianism if it hit them in the ass.

    Whoever wrote that about Fred being the last one, is a moron.

  171. Ban_Eric_Dondero,

    I don’t think the real Dondero has said that Fred or Rudy are “libertarians”, only that they are decent candidates who support social tolerance and fiscal conservatism.

    Martin Anderson and Walter Olsen both are Giuliani suporters. I dare say their libertarian resume is better then most people’s on this blog.

    What you don’t see to understand is that sometimes in politics you have to make compromises to acheive what you want in the long run.

    Even your beloved Ron Paul is not above voting for pork. From the Club for Growth 2007 Pork card:

    “Some of the outrageous pork projects Paul voted to keep include $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s Urban Center; $129,000 for the “perfect Christmas tree project;” $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft Technician Training Project in California; $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium; and $500,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in California.[30] This year, Ron Paul requested more than sixty earmarks “worth tens of millions of dollars for causes as diverse as rebuilding a Texas theater, funding a local trolley, and helping his state’s shrimp industry.”

    http://www.clubforgrowth.org/2007/08/the_2007_club_for_growth_repor.php

  172. Late to the table, but I want to make a point about private roads. We already have a working system of private roads that is cheap, works efficiently, does not confuse the driver with overlapping tolls. All of you drive on it every day. It’s called the internet.

    We don’t have to swipe a card everytime our packets hit another router. We don’t get a bill from several hundred network companies. We pay a single fee to a network for access, and then that network negotiates rights for acess to other networks. If some network is being troublesome, we route around it.

  173. Will I need a Real ID to get a token to travel on the libertarian Interstate System Toll Roads? Will I have to file an itinerary with Homeland Security and await approval beforehand, or will it be possible to be preapproved on a fast track system after background checks and submitting a DNA sample? If I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, will that show up as a red flag in my background check? Will I be able to have that incident waived after a review and hearing at the local office of the FHCC? (Federal Hate Crime Commission)?

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