Are Libertarians Hypocrites for Using the Roads?

“Who will build the roads?” is a common question directed at libertarians when we talk about ending government services. And most libertarians will give you an explanation about the private sector, what people value, common interests, etc. So we don’t believe in public roads, but we all use them. We drive on them to get to our jobs and travel. But if we really don’t believe in government funded transport, shouldn’t we reject the roads? And for that matter shouldn’t we stop paying taxes since we think our money is supporting policies that violate human rights? I would say no. If every libertarian sat in the middle of the woods growing their own food and refusing any public good, we wouldn’t have much of a movement. It comes down to what you think is the best way to resist tyranny. For me, I think getting our issues into the public sphere is important enough that I’m okay with driving on the interstate to get to Congress. We can’t take on every federal law and regulation at once, so we should prioritize, and right now I don’t think the roads are the worst problem we have. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for the Henry David Thoreaus among us to be examples of civil disobedience. But by complying with parts of the system, I get to stay in the public eye and make myself heard. If we were all thrown in jail for tax evasion we wouldn’t be able to do much.

4 Responses to “Are Libertarians Hypocrites for Using the Roads?”
  1. horantula says:

    I agree with Ms. Morriss. Much of our infrastructure is comprised of public goods, i.e., goods that are non-exclusive. We might be able to change this in the future, but there are “bigger fish to fry” such as reforming/replacing various aspects of the welfare state, ending corporate welfare, etc. Therefore, while it bothers me to some degree, the taking away of my income to fund income is not the biggest issue on my mind.

    On another note, the libertarian investor Peter Schiff, who correctly predicted the financial crisis, has argued that all roads be toll roads. That way, road maintenance pays for itself. Roads used frequently would be funded by the people who voluntarily use them. If people choose not to use roads would not be paying for them as well. What do you guys think about that idea?

    • horantula says:

      to fund infrastructure* Thanks Lankister!

    • Lankister says:

      A great step forward in transportation policy is to apply the principles of users pay as was mentioned in a toll road network. Currently, there are billions of revenues from gasoline taxes going to subsidize inner city public transportation, the very form of transportation these taxpayers are choosing to avoid. Public private partnerships for mass transit and returning these revenues for road and bridge repair should be a sought after policy before raising additional revenue from motorists.

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