Ask a Libertarian

Ask Libertarian: What About Roads?


Welcome to Ask a Libertarian 2012 with Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They are the authors of the book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, coming out in paperback with a new foreword covering Occupy Wall Street and more, on June 26.

"What About Roads?"—Sent by Sarath Kirshnaswamy

Produced by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, Josh Swain, and Tracy Oppenheimer with help from Katie Hooks.

To watch answers from 2011's Ask a Libertarian series, go here.

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  1. Roads are generally* long strips of asphalt that are laid on the ground then flattened** so that wheeled vehicles are able to travel over-land more smoothly. What kind of question is that?

    *sometimes brick or flagstones are used.
    **at the beginning at least, wear and tear usually removes the flatness in relatively short order.

  2. Personal jetpacks and commercial hovercraft.

    1. Here’s the deal. If roads were entirely private, and we generally had limited government and free markets, we wouldn’t need any fucking roads because we’d have flying cars. Or teleportation.

      1. we’d have flying cars. Or teleportation.

        Those things already exist but Big Auto is holding the patents so they’ll never see the light of day.

        1. No, it’s Big Government that’s screwing us over.

          1. It’s a conspirasee by teh big oil corporashunz, big auto corporayshunz, and teh evul libertarianz who secretly run everything from there secret base in Colorado known as Teh Meadowz that keeps flying cars from us. /libtard

      2. But no computers, Internet, commercial flight, space travel, or cures to various pandemics, among other things.

        Your empty promises are certainly convincing though.

        1. But no … commercial flight

          Tony has crossed over into self-parody.

          1. Would you get on a plane if there were no FAA-like entity to handle air traffic control?

            1. Yes. You act as if safety would be nobody’s concern if the benevolent and omniscient Federal government wasn’t there protecting the rubes from those heartless, mustache-twirling oligopolists that have started and maintain every single industry ever. You know, because killing off all your customers and frightening off any potential new ones is a totally functional business model.

            2. You mean like it is in Canada, where air traffic control is completely privatized?


              1. NAV Canada is a monopoly. Just because it’s technically privatized doesn’t make it different in kind from other (usefully) centralized models.

        2. we would all be dead of polio if not for the NIH. POLIO!!

  3. Fascinating, and to think all those years I had been taught that only government was smart enough to put asphalt on the ground.

  4. I’ve actually answered this one in real life.

    “Cut my taxes back to just what we spend on roads and you’ll never hear a peep of me again.”

    1. The closest councillor my city government has to a libertarian advocates that city government should only spend money on 3 P’s: Pavement, Parks, and Pipes.

      /Better than nothing.

      1. So he endorses smoking?

    2. I’d take that deal in a heartbeat. Of course, it’ll never be offered, because the ROADZ bullshit is just a red herring.

    3. You mean after some thug knifes you for your wallet with impunity?

    4. Awesome, see below.

  5. Almost 3 minutes, and not a single mention of Somalia. WTF, guys? Way to drop the ball.

    1. As a matter of fact, the entire text of my question (aside from an intro) was:

      “Is Somalia secretly a libertarian paradise and I just didn’t get the memo? or what? and if not, how do we stop this baloney? Follow up: roads. Same question, mostly.”

      So it was mostly about responding to the endless “But but but ROADZ!!!” questions from people. So SF’s answer is actually pretty good for me.

  6. Can’t believe I’m the first to Say DRINK!

  7. What About Roads?

    I, personally, am in favor of roads.

    1. What’s your position on heroin vending machines in public schools?

      1. Cash only, no food vouchers.

      2. Not crazy about it. Wouldn’t have them in my school. They can bring their heroin from home if they want.

        1. “Did you bring enough for everybody?”

          1. Really, the response to that always should’ve been, “No, I’m not a fucking communist. Are you?”

      3. Invalid question, as it assumes the existence of public schools in libertopia.

      4. The answer to this question should be “I don’t believe in public schools.”

  8. I actually own a private road. No seriously! I have 1% ownership of a private road. Anarchotard assertions to the contrary, this private road does not have any toll booths and has a speed limit.

    This road runs through and around my condominium complex.

    Not everything has to be a market. I know this runs against the grain of the Rothbardian worldview, but not everything has to be a for-profit venture. Toll roads on private interstate highways makes sense, but only the most socially repressed Randroid thinks for-profit residential streets are a good idea.

    1. The right to collectivize resources is constituent of freedom.

      1. The right to collectivize resources that you own is constituent of freedom.

        Sure. You can always give away your own property if you want.

        Its the part where other people give away my property that I have a problem with.

        1. You’re welcome to try to find an unclaimed plot of land with no public services. Otherwise you’re the one demanding free shit.

          1. What free shit am I demanding, again?

            1. Just…don’t talk to it.

            2. Use of public roads, among other things.

              You’re born into a collectivized world. Sorry. Maybe there’s a reason there are no desirable societies anywhere on earth that aren’t.

              1. There gradation between radical individualism and authoritarian collectivism. Individuals can join together voluntarily to form a collective group for the purposes of asset ownership (such as a road) without requiring the heavy hand of government. Okay, a few extremist Randroids disagree, but they’re not buying any rounds of beer anyway.

                In other words, I can collectivize my resources just fine without any help from His Messiahship The Obama.

                1. True, but you need some kind of organizing and enforcement mechanism. And you clearly can’t get out of bed in the morning without some Limbaugh juice.


    3. I think you are burning a strawman here. Have the rothbardians ever asserted that non-profits wouldn’t exist in their world? Your not exactly doing it out of altruism either but rather to add value to you complex by allowing access. Who would buy a condo you couldn’t get to? So I don’t see how the repressed Randroids would have a problem with it either.

      1. Brandybuck prides himself on his “common sense libertarianism”, which translates to “I wanna appeal to the mainstream”.

        Don’t worry, Brandybuck, us “socially repressed” Rothbardians and Randroids will continue to come up with novel, freedom-enhancing ideas, even if some of them are a little outside the mainstream, and you can keep borrowing heavily from them while denouncing us in the same breath. It’s what the Republicans do.

        1. It’s a little bit of willful ignorance too. Building a road to the apartment complex is no different that building the parking lot or the elevator. It’s not a stretch to say this is for-profit, especially if it was paid for by the developer before selling the condos, and it is certainly for value.

      2. I brought it up simply because the stereotype of the anarcho-road system is one with pervasive toll booths or FastTrack sensors or some other means of extracting micropayments. The standard response from the Rothbards/Tannehills/Murphys to the question of “waht about da roadz” is tollbooths.

        It is so stereotypical of a certain brand of libertarianism, that the cliched resonse to “ROADZ!” has become “TOLLBOOTHZ!”

        1. Me, I’m tired of the micropayments I have to make to Google.

    4. I would call you an obnoxious cunt, but I reserve that word for Shultz. So I will go with strawmanning douche.

  9. Libertarians are about the future. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

    1. *hops into Mr. Fusion powered litter*

      1. But if our litters are powered by Mr. Fusions, then what about all those poor Cambodian orphans who will be out of a job? Think of the JOBZZZ!!!!11!!!

  10. My response is “What about them?”

    Seriously, the government spends 7 million dollars a minute and people want to go on about fucking roads. It makes me sick.

  11. What about Roads?”


  12. I would concur with everyone elses sentiments here. Stop the global empire building, stop using AQ to strip our civil liberties, stop incarcerating and destroying the lives of people for doing something our last three presidents have admitted to doing, stop letting the teachers unions condemn millions to a life of uneducated mediocrity, fix the 100 trillion dollar entitlement tsunami threatening to destroy the economy, stop the paramilitarization of the police and then you go ahead and build as many fucking roads as you want.

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