* private roads & civil liberties
03 Apr 1994
It just struck me this morning that in the same (or two related)
posts you were worried about civil liberties problems of open immigration
and at the same time implicitly defending public roads.
The public roads have been a civil liberties disaster. Consider all
of the things that have been done because the roads are public that could
not have been done (or at least been much more difficult) if they were
1) A de facto ID system of driver's licenses that everyone is expected to
have with them at all times for the police to inspect at will.
2) Widescale thumb and fingerprinting (just this week Texas went to
a system of digital fingerprinting on license renewal).
3) No rights against arbitrary search when on the roads. These might have
been lost with private roads, but it would have taken longer.
4) And, now, with assett forfeiture, limited rights against arbitrary
seizure on the roads. It's as if the highway robbers own the roads!
5) Preposterous arm twisting of state governments via highway funds
(including most notably raising the drinking age).
6) Arbitrary denial of driver's licenses for unrelated offenses, e.g.
7) Social redistribution from bad drivers to good in the form of mandatory
no fault insurance.
7b) Control of people's finances by not letting them buy insurance on
installment plans (which can be used to thwart mandatory insurance).
8) Regressive gas taxes. These would probably exist with private roads too
but letting gas taxes be initiated with the pretense of funding the public
roads made it easier to abuse them for other unrelated purposes.
9) Inefficiently low highway speeds held hostage to majoritarian wishful
thinking instead of real economic need.
10) Seat belt and helmet laws. Private roads might impose the same but when
the government does it, it becomes a precedent for further intervention into
people's personal lives.
This reasoning has direct relevance to the postal service too. Regardless
of the "social good" (whatever that is), it is used as a tool to deny civil
liberties that would exist with a private system. That it is illegal to
mail certain kinds of materials that is is legal to possess screams about
the backdoor assault on civil liberties inherent in the government
protecting its own monopoly on a service.