Government planning

Chris Christie Should Sell the George Washington Bridge

The best way to run something without political interference is to let someone other than the government run it.

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It's going to take Governor Christie more than a confessional press conference and the firing of some aides to rescue his presidential hopes in 2016 and restore public confidence in his leadership following the scandal over the politically motivated closure of entry lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

The best thing the governor could do to turn this story around would be to sell the bridge outright—and dismantle the rest of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey along with it.

What better way than a privatization to make the point Mr. Christie needs to make to his various constituencies at the moment—that he's both humble and a bold reformer? Humble, because he realizes the competitive private sector can do a better job of running a bridge or a tunnel or an airport or an office building than a government monopoly can. And a bold reformer, because he's willing and able to do what no governor has been able to do since the Port Authority was created in 1921 by governors Edward Edwards of New Jersey and Nathan Miller of New York (not exactly household names)—shut it down.

Whatever rationale there might have once been for the Port Authority as an example of regional government or professional public management has been rendered obsolete by the bridge-lane closures, which show the agency to be manipulated easily by political operatives. It's a government-created, tax-exempt monopoly.

In the private sector, if something doesn't work, customers can switch. If your ATT cellphone drops calls, you can switch to Verizon. If Amazon is out of the book you need, you can shop at BarnesandNoble.com. If REI doesn't have the hiking boots you need, you can go to L.L. Bean, or Eastern Mountain Sports. Or vice versa.

But for the trip from New Jersey to New York City, the Port Authority is the only game in town. It controls not only the George Washington Bridge, but also the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the Goethals Bridge, and the Outerbridge Crossing. It's also in the real estate business, controlling the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, yet to be fully rebuilt more than a dozen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11. And it's in the airport business, operating Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark airports.

Leasing or, even better, selling the bridges, tunnels, airports, bus terminals and office space to private operators would introduce competition and reduce politicization. It would get these operations out of the subsidized tax-exempt public sector and into the tax-paying private sector.

If market forces mean that tolls or fees increase on newly privatized bridges and tunnels, then that may increase incentives to carpool, take a bus or a train, or skip the trip altogether and replace it with a phone call or a videoconference. It is also possible that if the bridges and tunnels are sold to different operators, they will compete with different pricing strategies rather than Port Authority-style lockstep increases. Some of the new operators may choose to experiment with offering higher-speed lanes to higher-paying customers, or discounts to drivers who are willing to travel at less-congested hours. They may even use innovative technology, like Google's self-driving cars or the E-ZPass express lanes, to move more cars through in less time.

Governor Pataki of New York made moves in this general direction, inspired by the New York State Research Council on Privatization led by businessman and Reagan administration official Ronald Lauder. Governor Cuomo has shown with his resistance to Mayor de Blasio's proposed tax increases that he wants to establish his bona fides as a moderate, or at least a non-doctrinaire liberal, so he might be persuaded to go along. Democrats in New York have long called for reining in these quasi-independent authorities.

And privatization of public transportation assets has been successfully achieved elsewhere, from Margaret Thatcher's privatization of Heathrow Airport in Britain to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' 75-year lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

The best way to run something without political interference is to let someone other than the government run it. If Mr. Christie can move from defense to offense on this one, it will be evidence that his political career is worth salvaging. And even if he doesn't turn it into a presidential nomination, the private sector may yet find a way to reduce the traffic in ways that eventually more than make up for the jams that Christie aides created.

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97 responses to “Chris Christie Should Sell the George Washington Bridge

  1. If he were a different person, he’d be a different person.

    Indeed.

  2. Funny thing is, the poltergeist of Gov’t is not so easily exorcised.

    Daley botched the privatization of parking meters here in Chicago in 2008 and it has arguably soured several other privatization efforts and is, itself in need of repair. Don’t worry though, Mayor Emmanuel will get it unbotched, just wait.

    While the ability to privatize out of hand is very convenient, it is also very theatrical.

  3. I keep trying to explain to my big gov supporting friends and family that to have govt run something is to politicize that thing.

    Like Barack the Magnificent, I apparently haven’t clearly articulated my message.

  4. You have forgotten to mention the Bayonne Bridge. It’s the forgotten bridge.

  5. He would prolyl seel it for 10 cheeseburgers and three cheese pizzas!

    http://www.Planet-Anon.tk

  6. This essay is ate-up with foolishness, Ira. Despite this incident, roads are one of the things govt. should do, and they generally do it pretty well.

    Imagine if a private operator got pissed off at somebody and closed the bridge. Would that not be his/her right as the property owner? At least there’s some oversight and correction going on in this case.

    1. Imagine if a restaurant owner got pissed off at somebody and refused to sell them food. Imagine if a car dealer got pissed off at somebody and refused to sell them a car.

      If someone closed the bridge then they would lose customers and money. Even if they only tried to restrict individual customers that would still cause a traffic jam and lose revenue.

      1. They wouldn’t lose customers, as there are no practical alternatives. Everybody would come right back for more.

        1. Sure there are alternatives. Adjust your lifestyle so as not to rely on things you are not actually entitled to existing at any particular level of convenience, if they cause you so much inconvenience.

          Sell the fucking bridge. Government roads suck balls.

        2. He means that it would cause huge trafic jams to try to screen for one individual customer that you want to ban, and he’s right. You could only have an effective ban if everyone had to use an EZPass type system, and even then the guy could just register with a fake name.

          Anyway, it’s a non-sequitur, what you guys are saying is stupid. Of course we never will “sell” the bridge as you’re saying, nor should we, nor is it the only solution. You can privatize without outright “selling” the bridge you derps – you just essentially “lease” it; the company does the maintenance and collects the tolls, but they never hold any sort of title to the bridge, and have no powers to seriously restrict it from public use either as a bridge crossing or for broader purposes (i.e. eergency situations, where it could be an evacuation route)

          1. Public-private enterprise partnerships are horseshit. There is only one real kind of privatization, and that is outright ownership and acceptance of all the financial risk. PPEs only get bailed out or become a burden of the state when they pull out.

            1. // There is only one real kind of privatization, and that is outright ownership and acceptance of all the financial risk.

              Why? Says who?
              Were you aware that most roads by their nature are public property? That is, the developer grants them to the public? And that is wholly WITHOUT any coercion. I;ve worked in land development, and trust me, we WANT to give those roads away, we don’t want the responsibility

              To any extent a singular, key piece of infrastructure is built, it would be unconscionable to allow complete ownership to the point where the onwer could leverage it against the public. This would obviously, objectively be adverse to everyone else. If this one small point is non-libertarian, well then, I guess I’m not dogmatic, and that’s only a good thing.

              1. They are easements of unimproved land granted to the public, with the local government as the custodian who may or may not make improvements. The government doesn’t actually have to do shit with roads if it doesn’t want to, or can’t afford to. The only responsibility of the property owner is to not restrict use by others.

                A bridge is more than just an easement on land, it is a specific service that an entity is paying costs to provide. Easy to privatize, if people want there to be a bridge. Don’t expect government to always be able to handle it, because clearly it can’t.

                I do the same general shit as you.

                1. //The government doesn’t actually have to do shit with roads if it doesn’t want to, or can’t afford to.

                  Not exactly true

                  //A bridge is more than just an easement on land, it is a specific service that an entity is paying costs to provide. Easy to privatize,

                  Nope. With pure common law, as you proposed, the bridge-builder wouldn’t own the bridge. You can’t own waterways, real property only deals with land. You insisted on pure common law, so you have to deal with what you said. If you owned both land sides of a bridge, you would effectively”own” the birgde. But any douche could stop you by parking in the middle, and other landowners nearby could build on ramps to the bridge

                  These things must involve some sort of statutory or executive action, and always have.

                  Also, you ignored my larger point that you shouldn’t have the right to fuck the public in the ass just because you built something once.

                  1. You can’t impede navigation either, and navigation would be required to build the George Washington Bridge. The bridge itself doesn’t impede navigation, because the span lengths and height are more generous than the dimensions of any practical vessel.

                    1. What?

                      What does that have to do with what I said?
                      I said pure common law outright doesn’t have a concept for the onwership of bridges, because real property is on land, not water

                    2. While someone can’t literally own the waterway, I know of nothing in common law that prevents someone from owning a structure that crosses over a waterway. What if it were a natural land bridge with water passing under it?

                      But if you want to argue that bridges over waterways can’t be owned, then fine. No bridges. No shit off my ass.

                    3. //While someone can’t literally own the waterway, I know of nothing in common law that prevents someone from owning a structure that crosses over a waterway.

                      That. That’s what makes it so you can’t own a bridge. You clearly don’t understand much about the law. You can only own things above or below your land; your property line creates an imaginary flux over the curvature of the earth. You woul have no claim to title over the parts of the bridge that straddle water below

                      //What if it were a natural land bridge with water passing under it?

                      OK, no you’re desperate

                      //But if you want to argue that bridges over waterways can’t be owned, then fine. No bridges. No shit off my ass.

                      So now your system says that there can be no bridges? Yeah, that’s a pretty big flaw

            2. “//The government doesn’t actually have to do shit with roads if it doesn’t want to, or can’t afford to.

              Not exactly true”

              Sure is. The government can will itself out of any obligation it wants. Are you entitled to the police intervening to prevent you from being murdered, or can their bitchasses just stand their looking dumb if they want to?

              1. No, you are exaggurating the general point

                They aren’t liable for one or two lost lives, but they are liable to at least police an area in not the shittiest way. It isn’t hard to imagine scenarios where a judge would find them liable.

                The road situation, the government is even more liable. I THINK there are statutes they say they have to be responsible etc., But generally, they are obligated to maintain roads to some usable standard. Plus local power of the residents makes it important for them to do so (but you guys are against land use laws, too, right?)

    2. You bring up nonsensical possibilities to refute a strawman. If your argument had any merit, you’d be able to cite any number of times when a private property owner has shut it down out of spite. You can’t, because the reason people own property, unlike politicians, is to make money.

      “Imagine …” yes please, let’s try to imagine any circumstances where any bridge owner would shut down a bridge like Christie did. The investors would be on the case immediately, heads would roll, and the company would be so obsequious in trying to mollify irate customers that it would be embarrassing.

      The only reason you can get away with saying governments do roads well is because government took over private roads which were doing much better and now there are no or few examples left to counter your argument.

      1. Beat me to it.

    3. …”roads are one of the things govt. should do, and they generally do it pretty well.”

      Compared to?

      1. Exactly. There is nothing to compare it to. I’m sure the crowd could come up with thousands of personal peeves, but our lines of communication run by the govt.–road, air, sea–are very well maintained and operated. And they’re available to everyone.

        If you think private dollars could have done as much in 239 years, then think again.

        1. Yes, private investment did in fact result in a damn good system of fully private transportation options, which were over regulated by government and had the various forms of competition subsidized at the expense of others at different times. Now all that is left is a giant centrally planned bullshit mess of virtually no fully private alternatives.

        2. What happened to all of the unsubsidized commercial airline services serving small airports that used to exist?

          What about the private bus lines that connected small towns using rural highways and unimproved roads?

          Privately funded, non-profit highway development organizations like the Lincoln Highway and Dixie Highway?

          Privately owned and operated urban rail transit systems?

          They were all overridden by subsidized infrastructure and various economic and labor regulations.

        3. Look at the history of AT&T, how it terrorized small phone companies, but once their lawsuits began posing a serious challenge, it ran to the government, begging to be regulated.

          The only transcontinental railroad to survive was also the only unsubsidized one.

          Radio was doing a fine job regulating itself and keeping spectrum wars under control until a bunch of wannabe monopolists poured campaign contributions into Congress and created the FCC.

          Rockefeller built Standard Oil by being better and cheaper than everybody else. The anti-trust breakups were politically motivated and only happened after his market share began sliding as electricity replaced oil for lighting.

          On and on goes the list. You have to work really hard to dodge learning about these examples of government creating the problem so it could propose a solution whose main benefit was increasing government bureaucracy.

          1. You have to work really hard to dodge learning about these examples of government creating the problem so it could propose a solution whose main benefit was increasing government bureaucracy.

            Government is the opiate of the masses.

            Occam’s Law has been used to bludgeon Christians (and other Theists) for centuries when it should be used to bludgeon Statists.

  7. I never experienced Heathrow before privatization, but I wouldn’t call it a stunning success in its current form…

  8. “The best way to run something without political interference is to let someone other than the government run it.”

    Not according to the proggies pitching ‘publicly financed’ political campaigns.

  9. He would shock the hell out of NY if he proposed such, considering that NJ gets the best deal from all Port Authority properties. PATH train fares less than MTA trains, GWB and the tunnels less than bridges between boroughs, etc. Newark airport was updated first and better than JFK or LaGuardia. Please do privatize and unlink us from NJ with the Port Authority and our suburbs with the MTA, as the ones in the city always pay the most.

    1. Privatize all that shit.

  10. Actually, this is a great idea. It would allow the breakdown of entrenched political power at a strategic moment. Sell the bridge.

  11. You guys are being silly and moronic, by buying into the COMPLETE privatization supposed- libertarian- solution, and just saying that the “nobody would ban people” as a solution.

    First of all, the complete private ownersghip of infrastructure HAS been detrimental to society in the past for that specific seemingly absurd reason that the one owner could shut down his piece of infrastructure; the History Channel recently did a miniseries on the “robber barons” and there was one train tycoon or whatever who owned a rail bridge that was like the only rail bridge into manhattan or something and he actually did shut it down entirely to stop his competeition, or for political reasons or something. So it CAN happen, and it has HAPPENED.

    But you guys should be smart enough to understand that it’s a STRAWMAN, since privatization doesn’t have to mean a COMPLETE TRANSFER OF TITLE AND/OR ALL CONTROL. Hey, most privatization schemes already do and always could just involve one company RUNNING the facilities with the right of collecting the tolls, and THAT’S IT!
    DERP! Was that so hard to understand?

    Furthermore any concerns that liberals have could easily be addressed based on the charter; of course the public would/could have various rights on the infrastructure against the privatized maintenance company, like the right in emergency situations to use the thingy for evacuations wiwthout express permission and without the company profiting (tickets not charged, costs

    1. could be reimbursed later), and maybe the authorities use it for free

      Are these things really that hard to imagine? Are we going to play into the liberals’ hands by being as dumb and deliberately unimaginative as them?

    2. If they own it, why shouldn’t they get to do what they want with it? Fuck you.

      1. Because you don’t get to screw with everyone else just because you own somehting

        given more than a decade of the existence of a bridge and rail lines coming from it, doubtless many businesses will have sprang up depending on its deliveries. If all of a sudden, you don’t allow shipments, what the hell is everyone else going to do?

        Let’s say you own a lumber yard. You’re expecting a shipment of new lumber, including TJI’s and parralams for a house being built. You actually have the order and even took the money. Then all of a sudden, the shipment is stopped and you don’t get the TJIs, and the homeowner can’t continue his construction. What are you going to do, sue for breach of contract with the rail company, or the bridge owner? You can’t, you had no contrcat with them. Ditto the homeowner. You could at best sue for damages, but in a world were you’re allowed to do that wth your own property, it might not be consdiered damages. At best, it would still be costly and time consuming to go to court

        1. not to mention the absurdity of owning a bridge. In common law, you can’t own parts of bodies of water as real property. Which negates the ability to own a bridge.

          which is something you’d know if you’d care to pay attention to me or cared about the facts and the actual system we have to work with.

          but it sounds like you’re a stupid, young ideologue

        2. “If all of a sudden, you don’t allow shipments, what the hell is everyone else going to do?”

          Natural risk. Plan for it.

          1. //Natural risk. Plan for it.

            That is insanely stupid. Now you’re just being flippant

            None of what you’re saying is even part of libertarian philosophy. The doctrinaire answer would at least be that in libertopia there WOULD be an action for disruption of a service

            1. Libertarian philosophy says nobody should be forced to provide labor to anyone. Your thinking is what leads to socialized medicine that basically indentures doctors in to rendering services.

              1. What? What the hell are you talking about?
                Ive clearly shown I’m more libertarian than you, and everything I’ve said is more libertarian. I at least CARE about the market ACTUALLY being FREE. You’re just blurting out a flippant imposition of property rights regardless of context

                Dude, give it up, you lose. Your facile application of property rights where they come from a deeply unjust place leads to a society that can be fucked by one “robber baron”, which I’ve shown HAS actually happened, and where utility companies leverage gross power. That isn’t free market. You’re a fuckin retard, brah

                1. You don’t care about markets and you don’t care about property rights. You have never shown any resemblance to anything close to libertarianism. Artificial competition is not libertarianism. You are basically demanding that the state imposes access to everything that is privately run.

        3. “Then all of a sudden, the shipment is stopped and you don’t get the TJIs, and the homeowner can’t continue his construction. What are you going to do, sue for breach of contract with the rail company, or the bridge owner? You can’t, you had no contrcat with them.”

          Yes you can sue. Giving money away in advance for an expected service to be rendered is a reasonable implied contract in contract law. It doesn’t entitle you to continual future service, though.

          1. You can sue, but not for breach of contract. Maybe the lumber yard can sue the shipping company for failure to deliver the goods as breach of contract, but that’s where it ends.

            The other suits would have to go under other legal theories which may not apply and would be much harder to prove in court and way more costly and time consuming.

            Fundamentally, if an owner has a right to restrict people, why should he have to pay any damages for doing what he has the right to do? This is the problem that comes up in common law.

            1. Damages would only be owed if the shipping company takes money and/or goods and fails to deliver or return goods or refund the money. The shipping company has no further (natural) obligation to provide any future services. “Common carrier” laws require them to provide services, but those laws are not libertarian.

              1. right, but the bridge owner wouldn’t be liable, which is a problem

                he MIGHT be if the shipping company has a contract with him for continued and reliable use of the bridge

                but that would be a weird clause to have in a business contract and could be an easy oversight

                so, in your system, as I said, one asshole could fuck over an entire country just because he happened to build something once
                and that makes you an idiot and a douchebag. There’s a glaring flaw, and you’re just going “nope, don’t care”. That isn’t a positive value

                1. oh yeah, I mean he could fuck the entire country and have no liability on his part

                  1. “The country” is not entitled to access to anything. Fucking property rights getting in the way, right?

  12. It seems pertinent to mentoin this story: I have friends in Uruguay and one of them told me once he doesn’t like to take the bus because it’s dangerous ever since they privatized the bus, because all the busses vie for the stop and are aggressive trying to cut each other off to stop at the stop.
    That is, they supposedly “privatized” the bus system, but not the stops. Yeah, it isn’t privatized if the stops aren’t privatized along with it. It’s so stupid I have to wonder if it’s some kind of ploy to make privatization (and by extensiobn, capitalism) look bad.

  13. Much earlier in my life, I would have thought that roads can only be done through government.

    But being more versed in property law and construction I can say that a good case could be made for private roads. Because tolls aren’t the only form of monetization that comes from a road. Ways to incentivize roads, and various issues:
    -When you own an easement, you could also sell the rights to utility lines. That’s electric, telecom, water, septic, and steam that could make you money, also rail and bust stops. It’s not all just tolls
    -One way or another, developers HAVE to pay to get access to a road for their buildings, this always was and always will be a large part of the driving force behind roads
    -Issues with the “natural monopoly” effect, where the ownership of most of the local area makes you have power, could be mitigated with regulations that would require utility and/or road companies to allow competing companies to off-branch from existing roads/lines. That is, if ACME corporation, that provides steam to buildings, wants to stop a new competitor Amalgacorp from also providing steam to the area, they by statute would NOT have the right to refuse Amalgacorp the right to build their own pipe offshoots off of ACME’s pipe network in areas, as long as they pay for the steam they use

    1. You can not sell easements to other uses if all you have is an easement that specifically states a certain use for your easement. Only the actual property owner can grant additional easements.

    2. -similar laws could bar the granting of monopoly rights of utility lines/roads on easements. That is, an agreement between the owner of an easement and the utility company could not bar the owner from making new agreements with other utility companies on the same easements to put in new lines.
      -in the same vein, both in developing infrastructure and already-developed infrastructure, the lines/easements could be deemed public property in part, with all the homeowners/residents having voting rights on certain issues. This is what may have to be done to bust the current TV service fiasco where you have to pay for the whole service rather than per-channel, which is why TV sucks nowadays. That there is only that one or two cable companies in my area is completely unjust, the people NEVER got to vote to grant them that monopoly.

      -tragedy- of- the- commons- issues will always exist with septic treatment and drinking water supply, of course, because one pollutes the waterways which can’t be owned, and the other draws from waterways, which places a water-draw burden on unowned waterways. Ditto if you ever want to build a damn to make a reservoir, it floods a huge area of land.

      1. -that last issue is pertinent in terms of founding new cities/conurbations. You can’t have a city/conurbation without ample water supply, and possibly septic too. This is pertinent in modern America because a few new cities is exactly what we need. All the urban areas/blue states are crowded

        1. -there might have to be laws changing the nature of privacy, allowing any member of the public to get contact info for any other landowner (or possibly resident), to allow the efficient plannnig of bulk maintenance contracts and the like. The absence of one of the landowners for more than a short period of time would have to be deemed unacceptable in some way. Perhaps their land would be encumbered by majority vote even if they didn’t vote on the issue.

          1. Way to disregard property ownership.

            1. Nope, never did that at any point

              try again

              but you have so far disregarded everyone’s right not to be raped in the asshole by some guy who just happened to build something once

              1. Yes you did, Brett, yes you did.

                Giving “the public” voting rights in private utility services?

                Letting property owners override the rights of other property owners without voluntary negotiation?

                Come on.

                1. I introduced systems that could be used to transition from a illegitemate-title public utility system into a more free market system as well as possible considering the damage that’s been done

                  and a few more elements that would ensure true free-marketness in a utility- provider system, given the limitations of the law and the concept of real property

                  That’s all.
                  YOU’RE pretending to be obtuse about all the real issues

          2. “The absence of one of the landowners for more than a short period of time would have to be deemed unacceptable in some way”

            Common law exists for this already- adverse possession- and the “short period of time” is generally twenty years. Unless the owner is in prison, incapacitated, a juvenile, in the military, or can otherwise prove that they can not defend their ownership for some reason. Then the twenty years can be discontinuous.

            1. //Common law exists for this already- adverse possession- and the “short period of time” is generally twenty years. Unless the owner is in prison, incapacitated, a juvenile, in the military, or can otherwise prove that they can not defend their ownership for some reason. Then the twenty years can be discontinuous.

              That is ENTIRELY unrelated to what I was talking about

              You really can’t read thoroughly, can you?

              I was PROPOSING changing privacy laws to allow a system of privately-organized township services to be able to be organized more efficiently

              Like – “OK, it’s libertopia now, so all the public roads are still public, but now all the residents have a direct vote on garbage pickup and snow plowing, but the list of all the people needs to be made somehow, and if we can’t reach someone, then maybe their vote shouldn’t count and be subject to their neighbor’s majority vote”

              1. I honestly haven’t put any effort in to comprehending the shit you wrote. It is too fucked up to take seriously. You know nothing about common law, natural law, contract law, property rights, riparian rights, how utilities work, free markets, or libertarianism. Why the fuck did you spend so much time typing your private utility takeover manifesto, when nobody interested in it read it?

      2. You’re full of shit.

        1. What, why?
          I’m trying to paint a picture of a feasible, free-market utility and road system, using actual knowledge and experience of property law and construction. Which is more than I can say for most ideologue, young, aspberger douche nerd libertarians

          Common law courts by themselves are not enough, because of common law’s various quirks and inherent uncertainty with numerous judges and juries. Any system of ANY kind is going to involve some statute.

          Look at condominiums. Those didn’t even exist until the ’70s when most states passed laws to regulate/create them. England still didn’t have them into the 2000’s. You could only rent a flat for long periods of time. How stupid is that? But those statutes still had to be passed to make condos doable in the first place

          1. Most roads are already “public easements” on adjacent private property. If you want free market roads, just let those property owners figure out how to maintain them. They can contract out maintenance, let users voluntarily maintain them, or just let them be dirt. I don’t care.

            Land owners should be able to grant any kind of easement they want to utilities. Let them work out the details themselves, through contracts. If one utility already existing makes it unprofitable or impossible for a new utility of the same kind to be put in, too bad.

            1. Right, and addressing all the issues I laid out in bullet points would allow all that

              pure common law really doesn’t

              1. But it does.

                1. then you’d be able to address any one of the huge gaps I pointed out.

                  but you haven’t because you can’t, becuase you don’t know or care that much about the facts

                  1. Those gaps? I don’t car about them. Cable TV sucks? Don’t buy it then.

                    1. Yeah exactly, you don’t care about facts

                      //Cable TV sucks? Don’t buy it then.

                      So you outright don’t care about having free markets. Because the TV-service monopoly is about as un-free-market as you can get. The govenrment explicitly granted them a right of monopoly over all the lines

                      Why are you even posting?
                      Are you saying you’re a libertarian or not?

                    2. They built the lines, they shouldn’t have to let anyone else use them. Just because past regulation that gave them the sole right to build was bullshit, doesn’t mean the company owes any kind of reparations now.

                      If the monopoly franchise rights were removed, which they should be, competition would mean separate competing systems being built provided the competitors can voluntarily negotiate their own easements. Those competitors don’t have the right to use the lines of another company.

                    3. //Just because past regulation that gave them the sole right to build was bullshit, doesn’t mean the company owes any kind of reparations now.

                      That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
                      That the gov gave them the sole right to build DOES mean A LOT. It means that their title is inherently flawed and unjust.

                      //ompetition would mean separate competing systems being built provided the competitors can voluntarily negotiate their own easements.

                      Yeah, MAYBE, IN THEORY. But the incumbents would have HUGE market power

                      //competitors can voluntarily negotiate their own easements

                      Except that the lines are on public land. So there’s no one to negotiate with, other than the government. So there’s going to HAVE to be some sort of law-related solution.

                      Damn man. Just, Damn

                    4. Technically, they are on private land, since road easements are on private land. And in the past few decades, utilities have almost always been placed in their own separate easements adjacent to but not in the public road right of way- specifically because of the problem of putting private easements within public road easements.

                    5. They’re not all easements
                      In fact, they’re mostly not

                      and it doesn’t change the it’s- now- public problem

                    6. “That the gov gave them the sole right to build DOES mean A LOT. It means that their title is inherently flawed and unjust.”

                      What it really means is that the government should not repeat the same thing in the future. It does not mean that existing private companies should be punished.

                    7. no, it means that the title is inherently flawed and unjust

                      there’s nothing about libarterian theory that implies that the solution to modern over-reach by the state would be solved by just pretending that everything’s hunky dory

                    8. “But the incumbents would have HUGE market power”

                      Too bad. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible for anyone to come up with completely decentralized alternatives that make the incumbent obsolete. Look at satellite television and cellular phones. Who the fuck has a residential land line any more?

                    9. //Too bad

                      That’s extremely silly, to say the least,

                      again, there’s nothing about libertarian theory that says that we should just start acting libertarian, all other concerns be damned, and act like all title is inherently just.

                      You’re talking nonsense

                    10. You know, not to mention that these “companies” are PUBLIC companies, they’re not entirely private, they have various obligations to the public. So simply turning it into a private company would be double unjust, like any complete-private -rendering of public facilities or organizations

    3. Regulations to counter “natural monopolies”, giving other companies the entitlement (not right) to branch off of one company’s steam pipe and such whether the owner wants to or not, would be a horseshit violation of property rights.

      1. but it would be better than the monopoly grants that we have now, no? It would be one regulation meant to create a more free-market system.

        And you’re ignoring that the in- the- way- nature of land circumvents the free-choice premise of the free market. The reason the free market usually works so well is that most of the economy is movable private property. Real property is immovable, and by its nature each piece is “in the way” of various other pieces; the freedom that would be there with private property is not there

        1. How about instead of governments giving franchise rights to favored utilities, just let utilities negotiate directly with property owners if they want easements. Property rights. How do they work?

          1. right, which is what I’m saying.

            Alls I’m saying also though is that you will need laws passed to create a larger system of property rights and freedom.

            Some laws will seem to violate property rights, when they actualy won’t (again, see the in- the- way- nature of land), and when they sometimes do, its to create a larger, actually feasible system of more property rights and freedom than our current monopoly system

            1. Again, read what I wrote about land

              land isn’t like other property. It’s very nature is rivalrous, every piece of land isn in the way of every other piece of land. This is why land onwership has long been NOT understood as an all-or-nothing situation, and regulated and adjudicated by use instead; various rights of passage have long been recognized, in other words, just because you own land doesn’t mean you can stop the whole world from getting where they need to.

              Land is unique in this respect, and this aspect of it is inherently NOT free market, because it violates the volition, the free choice, that normally is the basis for a free market.

              1. Roads (as public easements) are the only exception there needs to be, since everyone theoretically has unrestricted access to them for travel by any practical means. I even view traffic laws and traffic control devices as a violation of common law of roads.

                Utilities, on the other hand, are for a very limited use, and I prefer the government stay out, other than respecting how property owners and utilities negotiate easements.

            2. It is called the you snooze, you loose (natural) law of utilities. Someone else already built a power grid? Go fucking blow.

              1. So, in other words, you’re OK if the supposedly free market favors the incmubent. Sound like our current hyper-regulated economic system?

                YOU go fuck YOURSELF. You clearly don’t care about the feasbility of anything or about how the public might actually be affected

                1. Sunk costs. People can adjust their lives to do without something they were never entitled to in the first place. Deregulate electric companies (real deregulation, rather than the fake kind that forces “power distributors” to buy power from every producer and lets consumers “buy power” from other distributors even though there is only one actual distributor). Maybe someone actually does come up with the costs to build a whole new separate and competing distribution system, or people just say “fuck the power company” and go off grid.

                  1. Not really, they can’t. Electricity is pretty important.

                    At this point you’re being silly. You’re clearly not pro-free-market

                    and just because I vaguely described some sort of non-restriction of the grid law, doesn’t mean it has to be the same as California’s shitty laws.

                    1. Being off grid doesn’t mean having no electricity at all. Eventually, new houses will be wired up for low voltage systems that are more efficient for powering already low voltage appliances so that they don’t need all the stupid ac-dc power supplies that waste energy. Solar panels for low voltage might actually be economical, unlike 120 volt panels that only exist because of subsidies. You can even power something like that off a car, if you wanted to.

                      I am pro free market, which means not forcing any company to give up anything that they already built.

                    2. again, free market doesn’t imply that we be blind

                      What you’re saying is we recognize title regardless of the nature or circumstances of how they were gotten during non-libertarian times

                      by that logic, if a society that recognized slavery suddenly switched to free market ism, they would have to just recognize the title of the slaveholders over the existing slaves

                      some forms of title are inherently unjust

  14. I figure that in a true free-market system, there’d be like six NJ-to-Manhatan crossings rather than the measly three

    It’s not hard to imagine, and the (monetary) numbers are there

    1. There probably would have been by now.

      1. That;s literally what I just said.

        Why are you posting?

  15. Mr. Stoll–

    Good essay as far as it goes. Just wish you would have mentioned what activities the government should do–protect individual rights–rather than simply citing one they obviously should not do.

    Think of the motivation of the political followers Governor Christie would have gained if he had sold the bridge and given a moral reason for doing it.

    Too late, now. He is totally and utterly morally and politically spent.

  16. If you think the government does a better job of maintaining roads versus a privatized entity…well then I have a bridge in NJ to sell you.

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