Saturday, October 20, 2018

A "Stuck in Traffic" Proposal

The curious Andrew Galambos once said that a traffic jam is when the private sector meets government management.

Of course, he meant that the free market was perfectly capable of pumping out magnificent quantities of high-quality automobiles while government road management is absolutely horrendous, especially when it comes to traffic jams.

It is difficult to believe that if road construction, ownership and management were left to the free market that roads would be anything like they are now (See:  Privatization Of Roads And Highways: Human And Economic Factors).

On the edges, there has been some limited toll road privatization, but if we really let it rip, my guess is full private sector road  privatization would result in the elimination of traffic jams, by a combination of better road access pricing, more road quantity meeting demand and just general innovation that we come to expect in free markets,

Thus, I propose that when we are stuck in a "traffic jam," we more accurately reference it as being stuck in a "government traffic jam," which more accurately reflects the situation. There is nothing inherently natural about traffic jams. There is inherently something inefficient about government management of anything. Let's focus the traffic jam problem on what it really is a government created traffic jam problem.




  1. In addition to the time costs imposed by the state from not minimizing traffic jams, the quality of the roads (e.g., potholes, metal plates from slow and continual repairs, etc.) increases wear and tear, or causes outright damage, to tires and wheels, and poor speed-limit stratification also creates both danger and time costs. Anyone who has driven in LA, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York, must suspect that some competition would improve things. In addition, as Walter Block has noted, there are upwards of 30,000 road deaths a year on state property. If this occurred on private property, there would be public outrage, commissions of inquiry set up, etc. But, since it's on state property, we get crickets.

  2. The NAPsters mention of the ill repair of roads brought to mind an incident I had last week that should interest EPJ readers.

    Bicycling after work I ended up riding as it got dark. I ran a red light. Something I do quite a bit while cycling since most lights are unnecessary and are not tripped by the approximate 200 lbs of me and bike. A cop stopped me. I told him in an angry and raising voice, “I ran the light because I was too busy looking down at the road trying to avoid cracks and holes in the AC to see that the light had changed. The reason the roads are in such bad shape is because the government is diverting funds that tax payers expect to upkeep roads to his excessively lucrative retirement fund. And by you stopping me you are making it so I am on the road as it gets even darker.

    The only thing he said after that was, “ride safe”, because he knows I am right. He knows his and other government employees are receiving excessive benefits compared to most in the private sector. That governments are broke and they don’t take care of the basics such as roads so they can fund his retirement and other BS programs.