Saturday, December 25, 2010

Quotation for the day: Murray N. Rothbard

If...we examine the performance of governmental streets and highways in America, it is difficult to see how private ownership could pile up a more inefficient or irrational record. It is now widely recognized, for example, that federal and state governments, spurred by the lobbying of automobile companies, oil companies, tire companies, and construction contractors and unions, have indulged in a vast over-expansion of highways.  The highways grant gross subsidies to the users and have played the major role in killing railroads as a viable enterprise.  Thus, trucks can operate on a right-of-way constructed and maintained by the taxpayer, while railroads had to build and maintain their own trackage.
Furthermore, the subsidized highway and road programs led to an overexpansion of automobile-using suburbs, the coerced bulldozing of countless homes and businesses, and an artificial burdening of the central cities. The cost to the taxpayer and to the economy has been enormous.  Particularly subsidized has been the urban auto-using commuter, and it is precisely in the cities where traffic congestion has burgeoned along with this subsidy to overaccumulation of their traffic.
Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto (1973; revised edition: New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1978) 212-3; digital edition here (courtesy of the Mises Institue).

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