Comment 30731

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2009 at 14:14:35

Arienc >> our society which has decided that public roads are a valued entitlement

Two wrongs do not make a right. If you are against free roads because they lead to excessive driving, the same is true for public transit. In either case, transportation subsidies promote excessive road use and reduces the money people can spend on things they actually do value.

>> We end up with millions of individual actors trying to compete for road services instead of one single co-ordinated process for building roads in the community. How do they all agree on where the roads go?

Think about how many companies are involved in bringing you your food at the grocery store. Farmers, manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, transportation companies, packagers, etc. Does the government coordinate all of these companies with a central plan? No, they don't. And yet, there are almost never any food shortages and the quality of our food is excellent. This is because business increase the supply of goods that lead to higher profits. It is greed that tells businesses to give people more of what they value, not a centralized plan.

Why would road delivery be any different? If a certain area of town had lots of demand for roads, companies would supply more lanes, because business chase profits. No central plan can assess consumer demand with the speed and accuracy that business profits can. All central plans are based on old information and incomplete consumer input. Profits are based on real time consumer demand, without the need for meetings or consultations that government has to use.

>> Imagine those businesses without the benefit of public road infrastructure!

It's quite likely they would be even bigger. If the economy had grown faster because of less capital destruction on things like subsidized roads, Hamilton might look a lot more like Manhattan, with people living in close quarters. Assuming people still like to eat on the run, this just would have meant McDonald's would have located in smaller stores. Then again, if not McDonald's then another type of restaurant, either way, we all would likely be much richer.

>> those few that have earned profits have taxpayers to thank for providing them the opportunity.

I agree.

>> Instead of subsidizing primarily road and air transportation, balance that out with more pedestrian, bicycle, mass transit and train travel.

Why not let the consumer decide how they want to travel, or how much? If people want mass transit, some business will give it to them. If they want more airlines, they will get that to. Businesses are always competing to give consumers what they want, so there is no economic reason government needs to pick the "best" form of transportation. People know what is best for them and if the government stops wasting their money trying to decide for them, they will do just that.

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