Who Will Build The Roads?

The common question that is asked of free markets, is who will build the roads? Considering there are no taxes or government. It would be more realistic for the question to be ‘who will build the potholes’, or ‘who will tax us?’ It is not a hard question to turn around on itself or answer, as private roads do exist, whether in cities and suburbs and in rural countrysides. However, people will doubt if your completely sane as it is hard for people to picture at first. There is a logic behind the private market creating roads and bridges though. Consider those people employed to work for the government to build roads, then it is the very same people skilled to build the roads only now for a private firm.

Basically, government doesn’t create jobs, and neither do they build the roads. Governments do hire contracting firms to build roads, however it is the taxpayers who actually pay for them, whether through tolls, taxes, fines, or monetary expansion (inflation/purchasing power).

It is like the idea that technology or immigrants steal jobs, however there is an infinite amount of work to be done. People are only unemployed if they could not coordinate their choice of occupation with a wage rate that they and their employer are willing to accept. Finding productive and efficient ways to employ labour and resources that can direct factors of production to produce goods and services that satisfy the consumers needs best.

This article does not rule out that governments should only be banned from creating roads, as that would deprive us of an opportunity that private markets also create roads amid government road building. However, what we do stress is the fact that of restrictions to building roads that promote the government monopoly. Additionally, how government roads are non-voluntary, as we are subject to pay for them no matter if we use them or not, or how safe they are or not.

In the free market, businesses and individuals make the decision either individually for their house or collectively for a bridge required for the 3 million residents of a city. It gets built no matter what, precisely because people require them and decide it is worth devoting their time and resources to. The common problem of free riders comes into play, like I will not build a road if Johnny does not put in the same amount of effort, resources, or time, well that line of thinking would not get you very far. However, if you build a road to your firm where Johnny buys your goods then yes you would build that road. And Johnny most likely will help to be able to drive to your shop rather than having to walk. If Johnny did not help then the road is yours as you built it, you can toll it if you wish, and therefore Johnny in turn pays his share.

The market might turn out hover cars that don’t need roads as a result, therefore saving us all are resources and would have been tax money. Alternatively, who is most likely to have an incentive to build the roads? Car industries, cars are not useful (mostly) without roads. Roads help to sell the car, either through impressive gas mileage or a smooth and safe ride. Either car industries build roads or off road cars, it is their choice, or go out of business. Their growth depends on the roads growth. Quite an easy way for a business to expand as they now can compete on another image base of “buy my car as I have built you this amount of roads…”, or “buy a car and get a road for free”. Crazy as it sounds it has its truths.

Roads would be another opportunity for people with spare land to earn money without the government monopoly taking that opportunity. Private markets can profit without even charging the road users, as the roads that are built on their land push up the price and increases tourism and the amount of people in their towns. “Road front property!”

If you have been to the UK then canals are a major part in the landscape and history, particularly the Canal Mania during the 1790s to 1810s. Where people bought shares in floated companies of canals that may or may not have been profitable, or built to sell on for high profits. Having been put in place by local enterprises, merchants, manufacturers, mill owners, and mine owners. 1830s was refereed to as the “Golden Age” of British canals. Even though, the canals construction had to be authorized by an Act of Parliament. Businesses profited from canal tolls and transport of raw materials and finished goods. Today private canal tours, communication and goods transportation have originated.

However, monopolies are the opposite of free markets as private road owners would be accountable to the customers who used their roads. Any private extortion would result in road users (customers) seeking out alternatives and the road that extorts would fail as a business as there would be high competition in the area to undercut that roads prices. Alternatively, supporting government roads is supporting all non-voluntary actions such as taxes, and all non-voluntary actions are unethical, pay tax or go to jail (all for the sake of one road). Governments also have the power to take your land if you decide not to sell it to them.

Copyright © 2016 Zoë-Marie Beesley

 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.