|This discussion has yet to abandon the basic collectivist assumptions that we were raised with. So far, this is like a group of theologians attempting to devise a rational religion, getting close to some answers, but never the basic question, and incrementally working their way to Deism.
We have automobiles because the car makers relied on public roads. They designed vehicles to use them. We built cities of contiguous habitats that depended on common access.
Public roads -- either as unowned property*, or as public property* -- have always been here. If the government were totally, completely, thoroughly, radically, basically, fundamentally removed from the problem, there might be no roads.
We might have unimagined self-sufficiency that greatly reduces the need for travel.
We might have direct, point-to-point travel, whether personal air vehicles or direct matter transmission or something else entirely.
Direct matter transmission is "science fiction." Yet, what is email? About 15 years ago, the U.S. government Postal Service attempted to integrate email into its matrix: you fax or email a letter to the post office; they put it in an envelope and a carrier delivers it to the recipient. That is the kind of solution offered so far for "privatizing" the roads.
Imagine the Founders of the American republic attempting to decide whether to include a Post Office. How would people get their mail, if the government did not deliver it? Who would maintain the "post roads" if the government did not? Yet, here, today, we send millions of times more words electronically than were spoken 200 years ago. We did not need to "privatize the post office" to achieve it.
On the other hand, much of this discussion is going on in a vacuum without any research into the way things really are. For instance, railroads have long since figured out how to charge each other for the use of the track. One solution, about 30 or 40 years ago, was a system of colored bar coding on each car. You can see these on cars. The system failed many times. After all, railroads are heavily regulated by the government and that regulation includes forced unionization of labor. Getting good technology is a challenge in that environment. Even so, one company owned the track. Other companies used it. Accounts receivable were tallied.
Here in Michigan, it is illegal to create a completely bounded property. Everyone must have access to the road. However, as a pilot, I have no problem with a completely bounded property because I intend to fly in and out without using the road.
That raises the issue of who owns the "air space." The mirror image problem is "mineral rights." Under the present system of laws, you own all the space to infinity above your home and you own all the ground down to the center of the Earth. That concept is medieval.
One way to consider this is to view the problem of the unowned continent (or planet or oceans, etc.) What happens when two people land on opposite sides of a planet and cannot "see" each other and both claim the whole thing? Clearly, this is a contradiction that derives from our traditional and irrational notions of property.
One fact that seems to work is that in order to "own" something you must be able to control it. How much air space can you control? A rifle will give you about a mile in any direction if your goal is to keep others out, and that is a good, basic consideration. How much of the land beneath your home can you control with that same tool? A more difficult and subtle standard is to observe whether you can improve the property you claim. ( Yes, you might say that you do not want to improve it because you like it just the way it is, but that begs the original question: how much volume can you reasonably enjoy in lieu of improving? One thing I liked about Albuquerque was the view of the mountains: they were about 20 miles away. Can I claim to be enjoying the daylights out of them and thereby make them my property?)
Before you can figure out who owns the roads, you have to know who "owns" anything.
* "Unowned (potential) property" is perhaps a better phrase and "public property" is a non-sequitar. I apologize for those terms, but public education leaves even me a bit short on rational vocabulary at times. I am open to suggestions for describing what a traditional path between two properties would be called.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/03, 10:17pm)
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/03, 10:20pm)