are currently built according to political demand in an economy dominated by the
state, which exists to secure power and ultimately answers to the powerful.
The US Interstate and Trans-Canada highway systems, which owe their existence to
government intervention, appear to be a comparatively efficient and safe way to
travel. But what is not seen are transportation methods that could have
developed in a society free of state controls. For example, high-speed roads
might have been built over existing throughways. Some might have been exclusive
to smaller passenger vehicles and some might have expanded vertically to
accommodate more traffic without stealing land from the people who live beside
Connected networks of
local rail systems might now be prominent, or more people could travel by
personal aircraft (which could of course be shared).
Considering the numerous
ways that certain modes of transportation are subsidized by state force shows
the difficulty of calculating what method would be most efficient in a free
society. Governments use the power of eminent domain to take land for roads and
for the massive commercial and residential developments they are built to serve.
Large commercial airplanes are likely more economically viable than they would
otherwise be because their production lines depend on military contracts. In the
past, large rail companies were subsidized. And governments have always
controlled the use of land on behalf of the politically powerful.
Interstate highways might
reduce trip time when compared to other options in the state-controlled
transportation infrastructure, but they are an integral part of a state-dominated
economy that makes it necessary to drive farther, drive more often, and drive at
certain times. If authoritarian obstructions were done away with, it is likely
that people could work shorter hours, and at times more of their choosing. And
it would be easier to support oneself from home or neighborhood economic
activity. A free economy would increase available options and the opportunity to
create new arrangements.