Rejoinder to Carnis on Private Roads

By Block, Walter E. | Libertarian Papers, January 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Rejoinder to Carnis on Private Roads


Block, Walter E., Libertarian Papers


I. Introduction

For a long time, I have been writing about the importance of privatizing highways, mainly because of the carnage that occurs on our socialist roads. People die like flies on these statist vehicular thoroughfares, some 40,000 per year in the U.S. alone. My first publication on this topic appeared in 1979, my most recent was published in 2009, and I have written on this horrid subject many times during the intervening thirty year period. (1)

Until Tullock (1996) my writing on road privatization was pretty much ignored. Some of it was cited by other scholars in this field, but until Gordon Tullock had the kindness to subject my views on this topic to intensive and critical scrutiny, they were not made the subject of any extensive and critical scrutiny. Tullock (1996) singled out for his critique my paper Block (1979) and Block and Block (1996); I replied to it in Block (1998c).

Then Carnis appeared on the scene with a series of magnificent and insightful articles on this topic (Carnis, 2001, 2003, 2006). These were splendid contributions to the free market side of this debate, strongly making the case for, and defending against objections to, conversion of our present socialist roadway network to a private enterprise institution. Carnis'ss pedigree in this regard is not as long as mine, but what he lacks in years (he is a far younger man), he more than makes up in terms of insight, logic and verve.

Carnis (2009), the subject of this present essay, is somewhat of a different matter, in my view. In this case, while I acknowledge that he has continued to build onto the road privatization edifice, for the first time in his contribution to this literature, I must part company from him. (2) I thank him for his kind words about my previous publications, (3) but shall devote this rejoinder to what I consider problematic statements of Carnis (2009).

Let me summarize the debate between Tullock and myself, the one that Carnis (2009) now joins. I had originally (Block and Block, 1996) denied that a private road owner with a highway stretching from Los Angeles to Boston (4) could in effect cut the north and south parts of the country into two parts that would be disconnected from one another via surface transportation. How? By building tunnels under, or bridges over, this LAB highway. The controversy between Tullock and me mainly concerned whether or not this would, or would not, conflict with the property rights of the LAB owner.

II. Critique

1. Lack of realism

Carnis (2009) enters the lists in the Block-Tullock debate with the following criticism of me (material in brackets supplied by present author):

   Nonetheless, the imagination he (Block) evinces as to possible
   solutions is marked by a lack of realism regarding current
   technical means of developing these kinds of infrastructures.
   Future technical advances could doubtless make it possible cope
   with these considerations, but to my knowledge this kind of
   overpass does not exist at present; and the problem raised demands
   a solution now.

Carnis (2009) is saying, if I can put words into his mouth, that while my heart is in the right place in this matter, and while my suggestions re tunnels and bridges may well be able to be implemented some time in the future, they are impractical in the present day, and we need some pragmatic solutions right away.

But underground tunnels have been with us for many decades, centuries, even. According to this source (5) they have been in existence since at least 2100 B.C. That is over 4,000 years ago. I am hardly being "unrealistic" in terms of modern technology being able to construct tunnels. (6) And, why tunnels could not be built, in the present day, under the LAB highway, is not explained by Carnis.

What about bridges, specifically, those (Carnis, 2009) "avoiding negative external effects for the owner of the road: the passage of light, water, etc.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Rejoinder to Carnis on Private Roads
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?