There has been recent talk in the UK of road privatisation, but from what I’ve read, it’s going to be nothing of the sort. It is just going to be another way to raise taxes, through the form of road tolls.
As with all the recent government ‘privatisations’, such as the horrific Railtrack mess, it will probably be a complete disaster, with the government still owning all of the roads, handing out short-term maintenance and operating franchises to favoured friends in the City, creating a cornucopia of overpaid ‘Czars’ and regulators to control the boondoggle, and imposing road tolls on top of road taxes and fuel taxes. Socialists will crow, as they do over rail ‘privatisation’, though what we have is a franchise boondoogle, rather than a private system the Victorians would recognise.
The roads are not the government’s to sell or manage.
They were either stolen from original owners or built with tax stolen from others. They therefore belong to the legal heirs of the original owners, or they belong to taxpayers. Now, it’s been a couple of hundred years since the original turnpikes were stolen by the government, so it’s going to be hard to track down the legal ‘descendants’ of the original owners, but wherever possible, this should be attempted, and the directly stolen turnpikes given back to the original owners.
However, the vast majority of roads in the UK were paid for by taxpayers, so they should be handed back to taxpayers, to do with as they will.
There are lots of ways we could do this, but here’s a possible scheme.
We could pick a date, say the day of the formal privatisation, and work out exactly how much road tax every road tax payer in Britain has paid in their life, up to that point. It is a personal annual charge, with all taxed vehicles registered in a person’s name, so even the government should be able to work that out.
Each road tax payer should then be given shares in a new road owning company, in direct proportion to the amount of road tax paid in their life.
All restrictions on the formation of new road building and management companies, to compete with this new totally private organisation, would be removed. The government would boot itself out of the business of road management.
No more money should be handed over. We’ve already paid enough tax, thanks, to build all of these roads, already. We own them. They’re ours. So give them back to us, you crooks.
For the correct way to proceed, the best handbook is by Walter Block: