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Private Roads and Eminent Domain

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shazam Posted: Sat, May 10 2008 11:33 PM

 I was debating a "refomist Libertarian" about whether roads should be privatized, and he asserted that if roads were privatized, local road monopolies would grow. He also said that these monopolies would practice de facto eminent domain by blockading anyone who doesn't sell their property to the road owner by buying the surrounding property and refusing to let them leave. How could one rebut this argument?

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shazam:
these monopolies would practice de facto eminent domain by blockading anyone who doesn't sell their property to the road owner by buying the surrounding property and refusing to let them leave.

More efficient, and lucrative, would be to let the recalcitrant homeowner keep his home, and make him pay an ogoing bribe to the road company for the priveledge of keeping his home, whether he uses the road or not.  Or, if the property is really necessary to their plans, they could just take the house.  I mean, who's gonna complain?  Nobody wants to p-off the monopollistic road owner and risk the same tactics being used on them.

Yup, those road monopolies suck.  Good thing we don't have any.

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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I am not sure what it is called in english, but you can own the right to use a road on someone else property. This is not that uncommon for various dirt roads next to peoples property. It should really apply for greater distances too.

In a free society you get this right by using a piece of property for transport before anyone else comes and along and does something on that spot. They can set up shop there but they can never block your from using it for transportation in the future cause you where there and did that first, or the person can buy or negatioate a permanent right to transport to there property if the others where there first and this can never be removed.

Even if these agreements arn't always explicit today because the road in question is owned by the governement they are still there and you can't just cut someones property of without violating this.

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It's called 'right of way' which allows people to do things like block construction because they walk their dog on a path that crosses your property.

My parents were indirectly involved in a case like this between their neighbor and a jogger. There was destruction of property, lawsuits and restraining orders. Lots of fun.

I was staying with them for part of this and Dude is lucky I wasn't the one who saw him running across the property in head to toe camo (to make a point) because I would've shot his dumb ass.

Same neighbor wouldn't let the people who bought the property below them run power and water across their land because of this so they wouldn't gain access rights and decide to build a road or something.

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It's called 'right of way'

Thanks.

And yes obviusly there are a lot of problems with how this is implemented today.

But it has some basis in a right that is real, and in some form it could still be there in a free society to be able to stop some of these issues with small private roads. As for big private roads no-one will stop traffic on them for the same reason GM isn't likley to shut down there car plants for 1 day just because they feel like it...

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nhaag replied on Sun, May 11 2008 4:52 AM

shazam:

 I was debating a "refomist Libertarian" about whether roads should be privatized, and he asserted that if roads were privatized, local road monopolies would grow. He also said that these monopolies would practice de facto eminent domain by blockading anyone who doesn't sell their property to the road owner by buying the surrounding property and refusing to let them leave. How could one rebut this argument?

 

Two thoughts on this one.

First, this is exactly what the govenment does when it wants to build a road. It first tries to buy the land and if that does not work eventually confiscates it. So the state wanting to build a road turns out to be a monopoly - bad bad bad if it is private, good, good, good if it is public? - . The idea, that a monopoly is always a threat is not correct. Monopolies are a threat if they are coercive monopolies only, that is if they can employ coercion to ensure no one else can enter their market segement. This usually can only be achieved through priviliges granted to such a monopoly by the state. Which in turn is not free market, but mercantilism.

Second, If someone has a property already than buying the surrounding property to block the way is not a valid option. Because the use of the property depends on getting to and from it, is part of the property itself. So, if the original property owners had a right to  use  the  access to their property, which is usually the case :-), the denial of using that way by a new land owner would harm the original property and as thus is an aggression which is not acceptable under free market rules.

The only way to get out of the dilemma is either to come to favourable terms with the old property owners, or don't build the road.

In real life this, however, is a no brainer. Private roads are build to make profits. Profits are gained by customers that voluntarily decide to use that road. In a free market they would be free to do so or try to build another road they prefer to use. Hence, the monopoly faces competition and will employ every means it has on a free market( that means no priviliges whatsoever to coerce), to not outrage their customers, but to make sure they make as much profit as possible, which is only possible if customers love them roads enough to spend the tolls asked for.

The only road builder I am aware of that has no incentive to act like this, is the state. He has a coercive monopoly and no need to make profits from building whatsoever. His gains are reelection and increase of coercive power.

In the begining there was nothing, and it exploded.

Terry Pratchett (on the big bang theory)

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Stranger replied on Sun, May 11 2008 7:47 AM

This exact question is answered below.

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shazam replied on Sun, May 11 2008 10:41 AM

nhaag:

shazam:

 I was debating a "refomist Libertarian" about whether roads should be privatized, and he asserted that if roads were privatized, local road monopolies would grow. He also said that these monopolies would practice de facto eminent domain by blockading anyone who doesn't sell their property to the road owner by buying the surrounding property and refusing to let them leave. How could one rebut this argument?

 

Two thoughts on this one.

First, this is exactly what the govenment does when it wants to build a road. It first tries to buy the land and if that does not work eventually confiscates it. So the state wanting to build a road turns out to be a monopoly - bad bad bad if it is private, good, good, good if it is public? - . The idea, that a monopoly is always a threat is not correct. Monopolies are a threat if they are coercive monopolies only, that is if they can employ coercion to ensure no one else can enter their market segement. This usually can only be achieved through priviliges granted to such a monopoly by the state. Which in turn is not free market, but mercantilism.

Second, If someone has a property already than buying the surrounding property to block the way is not a valid option. Because the use of the property depends on getting to and from it, is part of the property itself. So, if the original property owners had a right to  use  the  access to their property, which is usually the case :-), the denial of using that way by a new land owner would harm the original property and as thus is an aggression which is not acceptable under free market rules.

The only way to get out of the dilemma is either to come to favourable terms with the old property owners, or don't build the road.

In real life this, however, is a no brainer. Private roads are build to make profits. Profits are gained by customers that voluntarily decide to use that road. In a free market they would be free to do so or try to build another road they prefer to use. Hence, the monopoly faces competition and will employ every means it has on a free market( that means no priviliges whatsoever to coerce), to not outrage their customers, but to make sure they make as much profit as possible, which is only possible if customers love them roads enough to spend the tolls asked for.

The only road builder I am aware of that has no incentive to act like this, is the state. He has a coercive monopoly and no need to make profits from building whatsoever. His gains are reelection and increase of coercive power.

 

 Thank you for all the responses. First of all, I've already pointed out that the same thing happens with government road monopolies. However, he said that private road monopolies could artificially lower the market value of the house by blocking it from the rest of society. That is where he used a straw man argument saying that an anarcho-capitalist wouldn't bar anyone from buying the surrounding property and denying you the right to leave.

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shazam:
private road monopolies could artificially lower the market value of the house by blocking it from the rest of society. That is where he used a straw man argument saying that an anarcho-capitalist wouldn't bar anyone from buying the surrounding property and denying you the right to leave.

He might as well argue that the "road monopoly" could infest your property with miniature unicorns who burrow into your ear and give you a disease that makes monkeys come out of your butt while making you sing "There's no business, like show business" at the top of your lungs in your best Ethel Merman impression.  The Aristocrats.

Without coercion, the scenario he describes is impossible.  If you have an easement across the neighbor's property, then the road company can't take that from you even if they buy the property.  That would be coercion.  If you don't have an easement, the point is moot because you aren't able to leave your property now, so the monopoly has nothing to threaten you with.

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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Stranger replied on Sun, May 11 2008 12:00 PM

shazam:

 

 Thank you for all the responses. First of all, I've already pointed out that the same thing happens with government road monopolies. However, he said that private road monopolies could artificially lower the market value of the house by blocking it from the rest of society. That is where he used a straw man argument saying that an anarcho-capitalist wouldn't bar anyone from buying the surrounding property and denying you the right to leave.

That is akin to saying that Ben & Jerry's would sell you an ice cream cone filled with razor blades.

The road company's business is to sell you road access. They stand to lose everything and gain nothing by arbitrarily evicting you from your property.

 

 

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Bostwick replied on Sun, May 11 2008 2:26 PM

shazam:
He also said that these monopolies would practice de facto eminent domain by blockading anyone who doesn't sell their property to the road owner by buying the surrounding property and refusing to let them leave. How could one rebut this argument?

Its illegal to trap someone on their property.

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MacFall replied on Mon, May 12 2008 8:04 PM

Zeddicus:

It's called 'right of way'

Thanks.

 

A more proper term is "easement". 

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The real owners of the road are the surrounding proeprtyu owners who have been paying property tax all these years to support it. I see no reason to turn the road over to a single owner.

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Stranger replied on Wed, May 28 2008 11:39 AM

twistedbydsign99:

The real owners of the road are the surrounding proeprtyu owners who have been paying property tax all these years to support it. I see no reason to turn the road over to a single owner.

 

The surrounding owners would have to incorporate themselves into a single owner in order to own the road they share.

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Andrew replied on Wed, May 28 2008 1:25 PM

 Privatizing roads that already exist I state would be theft(not a free market in the first place argument). You can not privatize a capital good like a road unless you built it yourself. And considering the state has put roads everywhere, privatizing would be useless, and trapping people in their property would be an ex post facto since the road existed before.

Privatizing the roads, or at least the right to tell one if he can travel on it or not is unlike utilities and other "public" goods. The only way to privatize the roads would be selling the right of paving it, not owning the road itself. Other than that, privatizing pre-existing roads is absurd.

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shazam replied on Wed, May 28 2008 6:41 PM

Andrew:

 Privatizing roads that already exist I state would be theft(not a free market in the first place argument). You can not privatize a capital good like a road unless you built it yourself. And considering the state has put roads everywhere, privatizing would be useless, and trapping people in their property would be an ex post facto since the road existed before.

Privatizing the roads, or at least the right to tell one if he can travel on it or not is unlike utilities and other "public" goods. The only way to privatize the roads would be selling the right of paving it, not owning the road itself. Other than that, privatizing pre-existing roads is absurd.

 

 How would you transition to private roads, then? Homesteading? My plan was for the government to sell all of its land to the highest bidder and use the money to pay off the national debt. What would be the flaw in that?

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The problem with that is that it is just a smaller scale version of what we have already. Trading a public monopoly for a private one. Even worse is that the highest bidder would be the fat parasites that have grown as a result of a government existing. Only new roads can be a monopoly. Existing roads are already homesteaded by the current users of them.

 

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shazam replied on Wed, May 28 2008 9:13 PM

 Point taken. However, if everyone who used the roads homesteaded them, then they would still be publicly owned. Also, I never said that the all roads would be auctioned in one piece, or that competition would be prevented.

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shazam:
How would you transition to private roads, then? Homesteading? My plan was for the government to sell all of its land to the highest bidder and use the money to pay off the national debt. What would be the flaw in that?

Why would you bother to repay the debt? And if you do why not just print up more money and exchange it for foreing assets it is no longer accepted. Bringing down the currency monopoly is gonna hurt either way...

I think you could sell out highways and the likes. I don't know how it works in other countire bu here 96% of the roadgrid or something is already ehh public private roads. There is no good translation for what it is called. The roads are basically owned by local road organisation which consist of the people living by it more or less. They are toll free and there are some restrictions on how these organisations can block public traffic on them, in return they get government subsidies to maintain the roads.

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banned replied on Thu, May 29 2008 3:07 AM

What you're describing is land lock. Now, Stefen Molleneaux (sp) answered this question using his DRO theory:

http://freedomain.blogspot.com/2007/06/freedomain-radio-frequently-asked_03.html

see: But – what about the roads?

 

However, Most property owners would (I believe) attempt at developing some contract with their neighbors in who they can and cannot sell their land to. If it was the case that people were getting land locked by big road companies or what have you, I think you'd see neighborhoods develope in a way where land lock was neigh impossible.

And if some road company is being a giant phallic appendaged to a bunch of homeowners, I'm not so sure people would be inclined to use their roads.

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Stranger replied on Thu, May 29 2008 11:40 AM

twistedbydsign99:

The problem with that is that it is just a smaller scale version of what we have already. Trading a public monopoly for a private one. Even worse is that the highest bidder would be the fat parasites that have grown as a result of a government existing. Only new roads can be a monopoly. Existing roads are already homesteaded by the current users of them.

 

That is not what a monopoly is.

 

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