Why Wouldn’t They Use the Roads?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big-L Libertarian. I don’t even really count as a little-l libertarian, although I’m fairly sympathetic to their views. So when discussions of topics related to those ideas come up, I tend to pay attention.

There is a recurring talking point related to libertarianism which I’ve seen repeatedly widely in many different contexts, and which has always confused me. It comes up when someone is attacking libertarians / fiscal conservatives / Objectivists / etc. “If they object to the government’s taking money and spending it to benefit society”, the argument runs, “why do they still use the roads, hmm? They don’t seem to have any problems with taking advantage of our system of highways.”

Now, the mere fact that the sort of people who make this argument are stupid and ignorant enough to conflate all those categories might be enough to account for any absurd features of any arguments they put forward. I’ll grant that. But let’s look closer at this particular argument, anyway.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the question of precisely why someone from those vaguely-defined categories might object to the state taking resources and using them for things. Why in the world would someone who opposed that refuse to use roads? They’ve already paid for their construction and maintenance – not by choice, but by compulsion – so why should they deny themselves the utility of the transportation network?

I mean, what do the arguers believe fiscal conservatives would be proving to anyone? Even as a purely symbolic act, how would not driving on roads score ‘points’? And with whom?


4 Responses to “Why Wouldn’t They Use the Roads?”

  1. nazgulnarsil Says:

    I don’t understand how libertarians can be so blind as to not realize that the only supporters they will ever have are high IQ-low status males. sure, libertarian policies may benefit everyone greatly in the long run, but since when is the long run on the table in politics or even the public discourse? far-mode thinking is used for signaling, hardly anyone makes serious cost-benefit analyses with a time span of decades. those that do are more concerned with malevolent AI’s, nukes, nanotech etc. than traditional liberty. A cursory examination of history shows that such time-discounting has always been the case.

    It’s tech or bust. Humans suck at iterating systemic organizational improvements.

  2. Where the government monopolizes the provision of food, a principled libertarian must surely starve to death.

    nazgulnarsil, I referenced that stereotype of libertarians without asserting it was fact here. The context is some quibbling with someone who asserted that libertarianism is especially popular with “elite ethnics”.

    • When trade is outlawed, only outlaws will trade.

      Why wouldn’t principled libertarians work to overthrow and destroy the government in such a case?

      • I was being sarcastic, I don’t think its unprincipled to use roads. I do so myself! But on the other hand I don’t claim to be very principled.

        “Why wouldn’t principled libertarians work to overthrow and destroy the government in such a case?”
        Ask Gordon Tullock.

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