Contra Itinera

This article makes another argument against public funding for road development. Public funding for road development is commonly voiced as a primary support of a centralized state.

In the US whenever the public state has an opportunity to build a road, they may choose to exercise the state power of eminent domain. Eminent domain means rather what it would etymologically imply; that the state is the eminent owner of the domain. That is to say, the state has the highest claim to the ownership of all land in the geographical region in which it is sovereign.

So they can take your stuff, basically. Even when a property is considered owned by you, it is not really owned by you. You are a second-tier owner. The state is the eminent owner. You are just taking care of the stuff that the state really owns.

This is not to say that any time the government builds a road they are taking someone’s land, but it is to say that any time the government builds roads there is a chance they will take someone’s land. In some cases the government builds roads for us to use on its own land. Which is pretty cool.

Contrast this with the private market, where a person building a road may only build on their own land. This is much better for economies because it implies a more secure right to property. This encourages investment in property. The alternative is ugly.

Every time a dollar goes to the government for building roads, they have an increased incentive to exercise eminent domain and take property from people. When the government takes property from people and builds roads on it, it hurts the economy in a variety of ways.

In short, we should not increase the government’s spending on transportation, which often goes to building roads. In fact, the government should be banned from building roads and exercising eminent domain if we wish to maximize our economy. Which I think we should.

Btw, contra itinera means against roads. I actually mean against the “argument from roads” or against state-funded road projects.


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