Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quotation for the day: Walter Block

On the US holiday of Thanksgiving, we give thanks to Walter Block, whose writings have been a major inspiration to this website.

Under present institutional arrangements, there is a modicum of competition, which takes place with regard to our nation's roads.  Sad to say, however, such competition is superficial, very limited and only indirectly related to these transportation corridors.  For example, advertisers compete with one another in terms of highway billboards; insurance companies vie with each other over automobile coverage; roadside restaurants, gift shops, etc., each attempt to wrest market share from their counterparts.  But in terms of knock-out, drag-out competition, of the sort which earmarks, for example, the industries which provide us with ships and sealing wax, computers, automobiles, books and movies, there is none.  There could hardly be any, since for the most part roads, highways, streets and other vehicular thoroughfares are all owned and managed by different governmental jurisdictions.  None of them can earn profits from wise managerial decision-making, nor suffer losses and risk bankruptcy from the lack of same; as with all activities performed in the public sector, such competition cannot, by the very nature of the enterprise, take place.

Walter Block, "Private Roads, Competition, Automobile Insurance and Price Controls," Competitiveness Review 8:1 (1998) 55; reprinted in Walter Block, The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009) 169-70.  A PDF of this important compendium is free here, courtesy of the Mises Institute.

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