“Who will build the roads?” is a question government advocates ask in discussions with voluntaryists.
The economic answer is quite simple: customers will pay for roads themselves or pay for construction workers do it in lieu of having their money stolen to have it done.
Or they will build and repair the roads themselves. Like the anarchists in the bridge city of Portland, Oregon did in February and March 2017.
OregonLive reports “Pitting the city’s two mottos — the unofficial ‘Keep Portland Weird’ and the municipal ‘The City That Works’ — against one another, a group calling itself Portland Anarchist Road Care [a.k.a. PARC] says state neglect is to blame for the condition of the streets.”
“As anarchists, we seek to bring about a society in which coercive hierarchies, such as government and [state] capitalism … no longer exist,” one of the anarchists told OregonLive. “To be exceptionally clear, anarchists do not desire chaos, we desire freedom and equality.”
The group declares the government ignores the complaints from law-abiding locals about the broken-down roads. Their Facebook page claims these anarchists “will fix the streets.”
Up until PARC started being the government’s more successful shadow with the roads, fed-up locals (and in many other areas across the United States) have been planting flowers in potholes or chalking circles around them. The government ignores them.
PARC activists took action, by self-teaching themselves how to repair roads, pooled resources together to buy the raw materials, and utilized free-market economics to get the job done.
“If it’s a city maintained street, then folks should call us and have the professionals do it,” stated Dylan Rivera, a spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “It’s generally not safe for folks to be out in the street doing an unauthorized repair like this.”
Rivera was unable to point to any city ordinance or state law that prohibited private-sector road repair. All the while, ignoring the fact locals have been trying to go through proper channels for a long time.
His excuse was “Mother Nature,” citing rain kept public-sector-contracted construction workers from being out on the roads. But anarchists were able to do it.
It should be noted Rivera suggested the anarchists help home-owners with gravel roads, as that is not the city’s job. Ironically, he said only with the consent of those people – all the while ignoring the consent of many by stealing or extorting money from people, via taxation.
While the city has gone on a road-repairing spree after the public-relations blunder, it speaks volumes anarchists did a service to no cost to the community on their own wits. Unlike the government that requires the initiation of force and awful customer service to function in society.
Eighteenth-century abolitionist, anarchist, and entrepreneur Lysander Spooner who wrote No Treason:the Constitution of No Authority, did something similar. He started his own mail-delivery service during a time the government held an unconstitutional monopoly over the service
His American Letter Mail Company quickly became more successful, more profitable, and more popular than the U.S. Postal Service; and to lower cost to customers. When government officials felt the revenue loss, they forcefully shut his company down.
A few decades later, the U.S. government passed partial privatization, which for a long time the market had better services. Today the USPS offers better customer service than before – and definitely better than other artificial monopolies of the government, such as the DMV.
Spooner’s example inspires many anarchists, especially since the 1960s (see: agorism).
According to Reason’s Hit & Run blog, “A 2016 report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, found that 20 percent of major roads in the United States are in poor condition, costing around $523 per motorist (or around $112 billion total) per year in vehicle wear and tear. The report also claims that investment in roads and bridges nationwide would need to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion a year to adequately cover operation and maintenance costs.”
The Portland anarchists at PARC are out to fix more roads and serve their community, by voluntary action. Without government permission and at government dismay. Only few anarchists are bandana-wearing, Molotov cocktail-wielding protestors, while many are peaceful, liberty-loving people who want to help their community via voluntary association.
Who will build the roads in the absence of the government? Anarchists.