I was reading a blog I just found about/called Market Urbanism, and in it the author links to an article in Governing Magazine about the hypocrisy of libertarian think-tanks advocating tax dollars be spent on public roads. It's the first time I've ever seen something in print about this sort of vulgar libertarianism when it comes to transportation (something I've written about a few times). The author calls out the Reason Foundation and its founder Robert Poole for their especially egregious violations of free market principle, and this paragraph just about sums up my thoughts on why American so-called libertarians love socialized roads:
Many of the authors of these studies are a rotating castof writers who pop up again and again, including Randal O'Toole and Wendell Cox. They "extol the autonomy made possible by automobiles" wrote fellow libertarian and New York Times columnist John Tierney in a 2004 article on the subject. Tierney calls them, including himself, "the autonomists." That is, libertarians who have embraced highway spending, although they focus more on the individually-bought car, not the government-built road it requires.
The article isn't all good, though. Even though the author correctly recognizes that America's "automobile-based landscape of suburbs, single-family homes, office parks, mega churches and shopping malls" is a government machination, he still reminds us that "[o]ur national road system would never have been built if every street were required to pay for itself." Yeah, that's exactly the point! Our "national road system" is the problem, and the author's implication is that not only would there be no "national road system," but that roads are indeed synonymous with transportation. But just because we wouldn't have trillion-dollar pavement stretching across the continent doesn't mean we wouldn't be able to get across the continent – or, more importantly, wherever it is that we want to go.