Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book Review: 'The Privatization of Roads and Highways' by Walter Block

A San Francisco Review of Books original

A Comprehensive Critique of a Compelling Controversial Conundrum 

Imagine for a moment that one day you wake up and realize that one of your neighbors who doesn't like you is now in possession of the road in front of your houses. What if they charged an exorbitant rate for you to drive down your own street? Could this happen? According to author Walter Block this would not happen because there would be a type of insurance to protect your interests. Well that sounds good because while reading this new book that was exactly what I felt I had to worry about if road privatization became a reality. 

The issue of road privatization is actually quite the compelling subject. It conjures up fears of not being able to enjoy the freedom of the open road, part of the American Dream. However what if traveling on privatized roads was safer than the situation we currently have? Would you be willing to pay for the privilege of staying alive?

Walter Block, a theoretical economist, believes that roads would in fact be safer if they were privately owned and he makes an interesting case. Some of his arguments make complete sense, like his comments on road owners being responsible for safety. At other times I was left wondering how someone on a fixed income, like the elderly, would handle paying for road privileges. What if you decided to travel across America in an RV, could you handle the fees on all the privately-owned roads?

Needless to say, Walter Block covers way more than choices between toll booths and potholes. He brings up the issues of congestion, electronic surveillance, car pool lanes, free fares, speed limits, discrimination and immigration.

The captivating writing style and the breathtaking vocabulary in this book kept my full attention. It is really a very intelligent discussion of a controversial conundrum. I did however feel that the author was making one entity the scapegoat in order to draw in sympathy for his cause.

If however you are looking for intellectual arguments in favor of privatization, then look no further. This book will be especially enjoyed by libertarians, but will also be interesting for a much larger audience. Who doesn't love to think about the future and the possibilities of road safety? In the meantime, resist texting from behind the wheel and definitely wear your seat belt.
~The Rebecca Review

I received one free copy of this book for review purposes.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Rebecca Johnson. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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