Ridiculous Taxation Myths #1: Roads!

By Alexander Leslie

You’ve all heard it. And, if your political leanings are similar to mine, you probably hate it as well. ‘Without Government, who would pay for the roads?’ This is the first of several age-old arguments used by the brainwashed Statists to justify taxation which I will attempt to debunk in this new essay mini-series. I can’t really blame them for thinking microanalysis into the issue is unnecessary – it’s an easy argument to make. You sacrifice a very small amount of liberty and gain a lot from it. What’s to lose? Well, luckily, if you’re one of the brainwashed Statists in question, I’ve done the microanalysis for you, so you don’t need to do it yourself.

The current societal outlook is that taxation exists begrudgingly: nobody likes it, but everyone works their life around it. ‘A necessary evil’, it’s often called. But no evil which encourages lawful pillaging of the property of subordinates should be tolerated. So, I propose that instead of viewing taxation as the necessary evil to provide us with roads and the police, we acknowledge that we cannot use taxation as a means of funding public utilities. So, instead of working around the fact we are taxed, society works around the fact that we are not taxed. Or as I like to call it, the instilling of a natural order. So, what happens when the Government isn’t at your beck and call to fix up the pothole around your corner (because, apparently, that’s a purpose they serve)?

The Statists would like to have you believe that this would be a disaster. For some reason, simple supply and demand economics doesn’t seem to apply to something as necessary as roads, despite the fact that bottled water is a branded consumer product. The likely scenario is that roads become increasingly worn and eventually dangerous before someone would have to finally step in. Again, this seems like a very familiar scenario. Except for this time, it won’t be the Government stepping in to fix the problems in your community. The responsibility lies on you and the other members of your community to voluntarily pay into these to keep society flourishing. The ridiculous argument that no one would voluntarily pay into roads again requires microanalysis as members of a community witnessing a lack of road maintenance contributing toward the demise of their community will swiftly take action to best accommodate their needs (supply and demand). And while these maintenance payments will be paid for by the minority, the majority will enjoy the benefits. This differs from taxation, which is almost always paid for by the overwhelming majority for the benefit of individuals. The unfortunate truth of this scenario is that some roads won’t be maintained. These roads may provide sentimental value but roads that cannot survive in the free market will die out just like anything else the market doesn’t have a place for would. However, when we work around the fact that we cannot use taxation to pay for public utilities, the only natural outcome is letting go of roads that do not provide sufficient value. After all, if no one is willing to pay for their maintenance, they serve no purpose to society.

Moving on to new projects. Without Government programs providing new, and often improved roads out of convenience, new road projects would be born as a result of pure necessity. When roads become an investment and not a convenience that is written off at the taxpayers’ expense, efficiency is heightened as investors must make sure their proposed plans will be useful and profitable. Businesses may buy into the development of roads which will lead to the birth of a new retail park. Communities will buy into the development of roads as and when they see fit but with their own time and money at stake, efficiency must be maximised which ultimately benefits society as a whole. Despite this, it’s easy to fall to the argument that some convenience is worth forking out personal liberties for. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that even if you do believe the violation of personal freedoms is justifiable for the benefit of society, you cannot expect your neighbour to conform to your beliefs and pay into your system. My conclusion though is that Government should be thought of like a psychotic ex-partner: you don’t go back to them because they’ll pay for your roads. Time and time again they have shown they will waste your hard-earned money to no avail which must not be excused through small gains such as road maintenance and the police.