Is Walter Block smiling?
Well, we'll see. Because although a proposed plan to privatise Britain's roads may sound all fine and dandy, and fit within the required paradigm of a future Hoppe World, there's many a slip betwixt cup and lip before we reach that promised land.
However, is this the Gladstonian orange book wing of the old Liberal party re-establishing itself? Perhaps. We'll keep an eye on this one, just in case it is. Here's what we predict will actually happen though:
- This will be the usual fascist corporatist stitch-up where instead of assets being sold off lock-stock-and-barrel, a favoured political friend of the government is granted a license to print money in the form of a multi-year franchise to 'operate' a road asset which will continue to be owned by the government, which will continually interfere in the management of the asset
- The favoured political friend will take some of this pelf and use it to make political donations and grant jobs and directorships to various Coalition hackers within the Westminster bubble
- After the farce of Railtrack and other rail-related 'privatisations' (i.e. franchise grants), the favoured political friend will demand huge financial concessions from the taxpayer to make up for the risk of future government machinations within the field of their granted franchise rights
- Road taxes will not drop by a penny, to make up for the new toll charges on the franchised road assets, so taxpayers will have more pelf taken away by one hand with nothing to make up for it from another hand (and remember, this will be on assets that they nominally already own and on which they have already been bled white to pay for)
- Nobody will be allowed to compete with the franchised roads, i.e. this will be the granting of a monopoly in the finest Elizabethan tradition, in return for a flow of pelf back to the government, to waste on rubbish and other corruptions
It's still interesting though, and Walter Block may yet smile at this. But given the fragile nature of this horrible stitched-up government, it will probably all end in tears, with capitalism once again being given a bad name amongst the masses, who will (rightly) begrudge handing over toll money for assets they already own, in return for nothing in the way of tax cuts.
The Privatization of Roads and Highways - Walter Block