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qjae14_1_7

qjae14_1_7

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Published by: Jeff Robinson on Jan 09, 2012
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01/09/2012

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130
R
othians
 
veRsus
 
a
R
othbaRdian
he
P
rivaTizaTio
 
of
r
oads
 
 and
 
ighways
 ,
uman 
 
 and
e
conomic
f
 acTors
W
alter
B
lock
 t
he
e
dWin
M
ellen
P
ress
 , 2006
s
TreeT 
s
 marT 
 , c
omPeTiTion 
 , e
nTrePre
-
neurshiP
 ,
 and
 
The
f
uTure
 
of
r
oads
G
aBriel
r
oth
(
ed
)t
he
i
ndePendent
i
nstitute
 , 2006
l
aurent
c
arnis
T
hese signicant and impsing wrks were published almstat the same time and are directed t readers interested in thetpic f rad infrastructure management. Tday the prductin,maintenance, and management are assumed t be the dmain f 
Laurent Carnis (laurent.carnis@ifsttar.fr) is an ecnmist at IFSTTAR-DEST,UniversitéParis-Est, Descartes II, 2 Rue de la Butte Verte, 93166 Nisy-le-Grand Cedex.
VoL. 14 | N
o.
1 | 130–140
 
SPRING 2011
The
Q
uarterly
  J
ournal
 
f 
 
a
ustrian
 
e
conoMics
 
131
Book Reviews: Rothians versus a Rothbardian
the State, with its different levels f jurisdictin and administratins,and few peple culd imagine any ther alternative. As it is stated by Blck, “The institutin f gvernment has planned, built,managed and maintained ur highway netwrk fr s lng that fewpeple can imagine any ther wrkable pssibility.” (p. 8) These tw bks cntest the idea that nly the gvernment is able t managethe highway netwrk and prvide the ptential private alternativest the public management f highways. They will be cmpared tdetermine the difference between these tw appraches, which,althugh they agree n the need t break with the present traditinf state highway management, are rather different in terms f themethds and prcesses f refrm t be implemented.
1. Block’s ApproAch: A review of 30reseArch YeArs
The wrk by Walter Blck cnsists f many previusly publishedpapers, especially in the
 Journal of Libertarian Studies
. Any relevantinvestigatin f the market’s capabilities t manage bth the building and the management f the rad netwrk will have trefer t Blck’s essential cntributins in chapters 1 t 4 f this bk. Hwever, what is interesting in this wrk is the prpsedperspective, that is the cnsistent review f the whle prductin bythe authr. Abut thirty years f wrk are cmpiled in a single bk,dening the theretical apprach and prviding the basis f a freemarket in rad services, with cncrete applicatins (the insurancemanagement, the prductin f netwrk use standards…). Blck als reserves signicant space fr the mdalities f the privati-zatin prcess f the rad netwrk, and a last sectin (the weakerne accrding t us) t the debate with ther authrs.
b
Reaking
 
with
 
the
t
Raditional
a
ppRoach
 
of
 
the
p
ublic
 i
nteRvention
f
ailuRes
 
While the usual critics f gvernment interventin int highwayinfrastructure management fcus mainly n csts and cngestin,Blck is breaking with this apprach in a clever manner. While hedes nt neglect the cnsequences f the lack f infrastructure-use pricing, (Chapter 2), Blck widens the tpic t denunce the
 
132The Quarterly Jurnal f Austrian Ecnmics 14, N. 1 (2011)
lack f rad safety that results frm public management. In fact,cngestin and the high level f accident victims bth result frmthe lack f clearly dened and prtected prperty rights: “…in facta privately wned and perated highway system is the answer tthe cngestin prblem” (p. 52) and further “… the dismal highwaysafety recrd is due t the absence f a free marketplace in theprvisin fr, and management f, highways” (p. 132). The privatewnership f infrastructures thus appears as the bvius remedyt the recurrent prblems f public management. This slutinthus implies the need t design bth the privatizatin prcess frthe present highway netwrk and the peratin mechanisms f ahighway netwrk withut any public interventin.
c
hanging
 
the
i
nstitutional
f
RamewoRk
Blck underlines the relevance f the causes f these publicfailures: the lack f liability f the public agents in charge f thehighway netwrk (p. 8) and the lack f mechanisms t imprve thequality f the service prvided t cnsumers (p. 132). In fact, thisstresses a basic institutinal failure. Implementing physical changesin the infrastructure, dening new gvernment regulatins frdrivers and vehicles are wrng slutins. only a change in the insti-tutinal framewrk will lead t the crrect changes (p. 8). “
A moreambitious undertaking in this direction involves the substitution privateor marketplace-oriented road and highway ownership and management forthe current institutional arrangements under which such tasks, rights, andresponsibilities are accorded to the public sector
” (p. 131). The signicancef the institutinal framewrk cnstitutes a real cntributin byBlck because it allws us t understand bth the failures f thepresent system and the ptential f a private system as a credibleand required slutin fr managing the highway netwrk.
t
he
l
ogic
 
of
f
Ree
e
nteRpRise
 
and
 
the
e
ntRepReneuR
The prpsed develpments in the thery sectin demnstratethat there is n reasnable justicatin t prevent private peratin, bth fr the prductin and the management f the highwaynetwrk. Sme entrepreneurs wh wuld like t satisfy theircustmers and t build custmer lyalty are bliged t prvide

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