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Sunday, April 6, 2008

RE: [LPplatform-discuss] Seeing Privatized Streets In Our Crystal Ball

Susan Hogarth:

BH) It turns out that not many respectable libertarian economists are willing to seriously argue against the mainstream consensus that there is a government role to play in the provision of physical network club goods. (BH

SH) Nice try for an argument from authority there. (SH

The links I gave were all to authors who lean your way rather than mine.  My unrebutted point remains that your argument is that your imagination is better than mine, whereas my argument is that I've researched your side's best available academic arguments and agree with most libertarian economists that they are insufficient.  If I have to pick an "authority", I'll take mainstream academic libertarian economists over Susan Hogarth's imagination.

SH) you are assuming that pipes (from a central facility) and streets are the only reasonable ways to convey power/water/passengers. That's simply not true. For power for instance, local generation could have just as easily become the preferred model (SH

No, I don't assume that the networks are not common carriers or that they would be closed to competition from multiple suppliers of power, water, or passenger-carrying traffic.  All I'm assuming is that it's inefficient to build competing pipes or streets in a neighborhood.  Do you disagree?

SH) You think transportation is more efficient with a road monopoly. I think it would be more efficient without such a monopoly. (SH

No, my only mention of "roads" was to contrast them with "streets".  I have no problem with entrepreneurs trying to overcome the holdout problems and assemble the rights-of-way needed to build an alternative route from town A to town B.  (Good luck with that!)  However, my driveway connects to only one street. Unless you are advocating tunnels or elevated streets, I don't see how in Hogarthotopia there wouldn't be a monopoly on what street I must use to leave my driveway.

SH) But the difference is that I'm not proposing to force you to make the sorts of roads I might want. (SH

You live 3000 miles away from me, rather than in my town, so I don't care what sorts of streets the people in your town set up.  The economists who I've read advocating private streets always assume private communities -- neighborhood- or town- sized areas where one organization owns all the streets.  In practice, what they describe seems indistinguishable from having towns -- or maybe "street districts".  I agree with their point that Tiebout Sorting among such areas would let people match their preferences to the bundles of streets/pipes/services provided by these communities.  Again, radical decentralism is the answer.  If you wait until you've convinced the whole country to become Hogarthotopia, then you (conveniently?) will never get the chance to try local experiments with your ideas.

(I'll stop using "Hogarthotopia" when you stop pretending that I'm proposing that what sort of streets get made will be determined by my own whim, rather than by democratic processes.)

SH) I've *never* suggested "there might need to be a toll gate at the end of my driveway".  (SH

I don't own the street at the end of my driveway.  Are you saying you oppose the right of whoever would own it to erect a toll gate -- or even a wall -- there?  Perhaps your "solar-powered helicopters" will solve my problem?  :-)

BH) I don't rely on merely the fecundity of my personal anarchotopian fantasy life to decide what the LP Platform should tell Libertarian candidates what they may advocate. (BH

SH) Wow. What a sentence. You must be so proud! (SH

I had been, right up until you directed such skilled and subtle sarcasm at it.  :-)