When I first heard about libertarianism, back when I was in school, the example of the philosophy in practice was private roads. I thought that was aburd then — still do — and only after reading blogs and Reason did I see more sense in the essence of libertarianism, in the effort to preserve individual liberties.
But now the private road gambit is becoming real — not out of political philosophy but out of government incompetence. From Gannett New Jersey:
New Jersey could make $30 billion — enough to cover the entire state budget and still have $1.7 billion left over — by selling the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, according to a report by Merrill Lynch.
The report said private companies’ interest in buying U.S. toll roads is increasing and cited New Jersey and New York as two states where toll roads have great potential for privatization because of their established roads and budget woes.
They should be doing just the opposite: Tear down the toll booths and fire the bureaucracies fed by them. I’ve long marveled how the Interstates by me operate with much less visible infrastructure — staff, facilities, equipment, expense — than the toll roads. Tolls roads cause tremendous inconvenience. And they tempt government — and now private enterprise — to try — though often unsuccessfully — to turn the public infrastructure into a profit center.