Sean Roach on October 15, 2007, 08:56:30 pm
Here's the way I see it.

A property that is inaccessible is valueless, so land that is inaccessible won't be bought, though attempts may be made at selling it.
Once landowners in general learn that the value of their land is directly proportional to potential buyers ability to get to that land, (and have others over on it,) provisions will be made to enforce accessibility to that land.  This may be by contracting a right of way with the neighbors.

On the flip side.  A neighbor may try to force a price break, when attempting to expand their own property, by cutting off access to the property in question.  So, the second to the end property may decide not to re-up the right-of-way contract, if they're getting ready to try to buy the property at the end of the road anyway.

If a party puts up a pike road, they can maintain it the same way the government does.  License plates.  You need a license plate on your vehicle to use the road.  This isn't, (wasn't initially) intended as an identifier, but rather functions as a tax stamp.  Proof you've paid taxes toward the roads upkeep.  So, highways would be maintained by charging for use, same as now, and that fee would be backed up by security guards patrolling for people using the roads in manners that break the Terms of Service, (just like now.)

What it could mean is having a bumper full of little tokens that each identify a road, or road contract group, (think airline codeshare, and cell phone roaming ability.)

As for getting the properties, and getting everyone in agreement to sell, set up a condition on which a contract goes through.  IF everyone agrees to sell, the buyer buys all of it.  If not, the buyer buys none of it.
If there's one hold-out for right of way, that persons neighbors don't get to sell either, (or lease, as the case may be,) and they are sore at their neighbor for spoiling the deal.  The neighbor has to live with them.  The group hoping to set up a channel, be it for telecommunications, natural gas, or cars, routes around, buying up, or leasing, right of way that doesn't depend on the hold-outs property.

Leviathan on February 01, 2008, 02:48:46 pm
For the record, since my initial posts on this topic, I've given up the illusion that a private sector monopoly could be any worse than what we have now: increasing costs, often marginal at best service, and no options.  Except without tax and regulation and initiation of force to exclude competition.  I've also since come up with alternatives for most utilities.

Well water substitutes passably for tap water, and with filtering equipment is indistinguishable from it except that well water is unlikely to be chlorinated and flouridated.  In the event well water is not practical or available, even filtered or otherwise purified from a contaminated groundwater source, one option becomes water trucks that deliver to a tank in one's attic.  Or even condensers that automatically fill said tank from local humidity.  Sure, both of these latter are going to be, chances are, more expensive than having pipes deliver it.  But it puts a cap on the potential abuses by any private industry.

For electric, there's solar and/or wind combined with one or another kind of battery storage to make up for times when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining.  As well as using gasoline, diesel, coal, natural gas or propane to run a generator in-house (or at least in-back-yard) rather than centrally.  Or any other solutions that present themselves.

Internet and other telecommunications aren't really worth bothering with, since even Somalia is generating good examples of the free market providing this.

Roads were my second to last holdout against pure anarcho-capitalism.  While typing this, I had an epiphany how an ez-pass style system could be streamlined under a free market.  I have to give some credit to the cellphone roaming comment though for the inspiration.  With transponder toll systems under government control, you have to have each individual transponder per toll system you're passing through.  The accounts aren't inter-operable, and certainly aren't applied to roads within cities.  But, much like cellphones being negotiated into interoperability for roaming purposes, if almost all roads ended up tolled people certainly wouldn't put up with being harassed because they don't have the right account sticker on their bumper.  They definitely wouldn't put up with being told to get their twentieth transponder.  And chances are they wouldn't put up with traditional tollbooths forcing them to stop every block to pay another few cents' tolls. 

So, people would probably opt away from the latter to transponder systems.  And with a profusion of transponder systems, there would become a demand for inter-operability.  So you could end up with a transponder system for an account you contracted with Roadco, Ohio.  But it is in turn contracted on the ISO-54490 transponder standard, trade name Uniwave, Roadco, OH would in turn have probably direct inter-operation contracts with the EZ-Drive, Paylitl, and Roads-Tour-U networks.  Since these networks also contract with additional bank accounting systems, they could dynamically and automatically negotiate rate transfer schedules with any un-associated networks out there.  So long as the tollway transceiver system is on the same basic standard.

And you might've thought the Confederacy system of civil trial and offset lawsuits sounded complex, heh.  Suffice it to say, to the user this system would perform relatively transparently with perhaps an audible or display warning of the rates of the zones they're passing into, and whether they've left the coverage standard zones and need to think about picking up a Paypass chip to operate on the Transicast transponder network standard.  Before the local road security company considers aggressive sales techniques or relatively friendly trespassing proceedings.

The second solution, which was my old solution, would divide roads easily into three categories. 

The first would be highways, which are dealt with just fine using tolls.  And in a completely free market, you could have an "ez-pass dispenser" style unit when someone enters a toll area on a given company's road juristiction in addition to more traditionally flavored toll paying.  Said ez-pass type systems could even have an exchange system and contracted network standard system, so that you don't have to have twenty transponders to go on fifty different highways.  Companies and people have shown excellent skill in negotiating such things.  Easily interoperable with solution one when entering an area that doesn't subscribe to it otherwise.

Business-owned roads and business-negotiated easements would be the second road type.  These are roads businesses pay for but don't generally toll charge for because the roads are built in order to facilitate customers being able to reach the stores.  In this event, the businesses would simply pass the roads they own/manage off as business overhead, and raise their prices.  The added efficiency of not having to maintain a toll network would compensate for the higher prices, especially when combined with the free transit to and from their business on said roads as a selling point to potential customers and even employees.  Also inter-operable with the first road solution I gave, as the road would simply not be on a network, and no accounts would be charged.  Easiest to figure the "tourist effect" on these roads, since tourist business is the same as native business except maybe with a different issuer's content stamp on the visitor's coins.

Non-business road systems would be the third road type.  These would generally be roads either owned by ordinary land owners or easements contracted through their land.  This was the only one I really originally had problems figuring on.  It would become relatively easy for individual land owners to fall behind on the maintenance of their roads, fall into the same basic pattern we have now where the road system becomes a form of very small government trying to exact taxes from its owners and travellers in order to fund its maintenance, construction, and expansion, or simply result in extortionary easement contract rates if someone has to go ten or more miles out of their way to find an alternate route. 

Likely if an area doesn't primarily subscribe to the first solution, there would not be any one solution to this.  Some suggestions I have either seen or thought up (and I've been in so many discussions, since this was one of my big hold-outs, that I can't remember whether I thought them up or had them pointed out to me) include the standard of "attaching" one share of stock to each deed, to be bought and sold together with the land in question.  This would effectively end up being a tax, since the continual upkeep would demand they contribute to the roads.  But they'd vote much like a corporation does now to expand the road system under the company, change the maintenance and/or construction company for it, and such like that.  This scenario does not conflict with the first road solution mentioned above, though the "tourist effect" would become a strong influence as visitors would have no way of paying into the system directly, though theoretically they're either visiting someone on the particular road system, or transitting through to another road system.  So they're either visiting someone who is paying in, and thus paying for them.  Or they're going between two paid highways, and the owners just have to take the cost hit or discourage through traffic.

Another solution is to just try to hope everybody plays nice with the standard of easement contracting through all your neighbors' properties.  This has problems of convenience, having to constantly negotiate easements through neighbors' land (their right, but also annoying enough that people use the government to bypass an owner's right to their own property regardless).  Also an issue with convenience is that some neighborhoods may become completely isolated simply because "people were driving by making a racket all hours of the day or night" and the owner values peace and quiet more than any easement charge.  Also their right, but both these situations amount to the justification for having government come in and hold people at gunpoint to allow passage across their land.  Also, charity isn't the strong point of humanity. 

But oddly enough, this setup could blend relatively well with the transponder network idea.  Essentially, tolls are in function almost indistinguishable from easement contracts.  You pay to help support the road in exchange for passage across it, versus a pay per use business.  Both could "negotiate" through the same system.

Of course, the free market is a beautiful thing and tends to come up with solutions only their inventors thought of.  Maybe we'll end up with flying cars without the FAA looking over our shoulder, and roads as such would become functionally obsolete?  Who knows.  The only thing for sure is that what people want, they find a way to provide for themselves.  Even when it's illegal.

Now, the part that really was my last holdout?  Police.  Society isn't a very nice place to live if nobody will persue criminals that have targetted those who can't afford a judge, much less a security company.  However, I came to think of it this way.  If government isn't there to tell people not to posess, people will either form a custom that ends up like probability broach, or because they believe (probably rightfully so, but not from the usual suspects) that they're in danger if they aren't armed.  So warlords would have to be insane to poke their hand into such a den of rattlesnakes.  Additionally, who has more incentive to defend your liberty, person, and property?  Somebody that is essentially paid at the end of the day whether they do it or not, like a policeman?  Or somebody who only gets paid if they do their job better than the competition at equivalent rates?  In other words, not everybody could individually afford the second division of the Heinlein Corps Mercenary Army, but for $50 a month (or three ounces silver, or whatever) almost everybody could afford Professional Protectives.  And they'll have to work to keep your business because you can always go across the street to Brookstone's.

But as mentioned, a society where the "helpless" don't get protection from agression isn't a very fun place to live.  It gets dirty and messy and crime-ridden.  So above and beyond  normal for-profit companies that might directly contract with people, you could have charity security forces.  They'd collect donations from the haves, or run other businesses to supply the funds, in order to pay for protection for anybody that actually wants it.  And if they slack off and people start getting hurt under their watch, the donations would tend to disappear.  Why throw your money down a hole?

The counter-arguments I've seen essentially boils down to either the security company taking over, or warlords amassing an army to overcome defenses.  Which are really two versions of the same thing.  The problem is government of any form is really just taking warlordism and granting a monopoly on it to a single power that at best promises not to abuse it.  At worst, just immediately abuses it with gusto.  So, the worst case scenario is we end up with what we got anyway.  The best case scenario is it works and we get a society that has more freedom.  The only hardship is if we get overt despots while trying to organize it, but the only answer to such tyrants is to defend one's self, one's family, and one's community.

So in summation, I now have more faith that people can innovate solutions to problems than I have that government could ever be made permanently benevolent.  And that even if they wouldn't be easier solutions than government in all cases, they would be more ethical.

Sean Roach on February 01, 2008, 09:17:09 pm
The problem with roads as I see it, or other land-based channels, be they water, electricity, travel, or communication, is you can easily find yourself stuck with a single potential provider.  The only way I can see such a system working well is if land is essentially held lightly.  If you don't particularly hold your land to be all that valuable, (much like most hold cars,) you are more willing to trade it in for another plot if you can no longer live with your neighbors, (either because they quit letting you drive "across" their property to get to yours, or just because they won't quit playing that loud, obnoxious music at 3:30 in the morning.
If you hold land dearly, either because it's seen as a rare commodity, (as could be the case if everyone has to have a square mile of the same valley somewhere, or any time there's minerals to extract,) or because it's an heirloom, (my own situation,) you find yourself with a weaker bargaining position.  Also, loosing becomes much more disturbing.
For the whole thing to work for long periods of time the easement has to be pretty much guaranteed for the property holders.  Not maintenance, just right-of-way.  NOW.  If the guy at the back of the road has a new attraction that he wants to attract people to, he can foot the bill for the maintenance of more than a dirt strip himself.  If everyone wants to live on a concrete roadway, they can pitch in, and they'll have the incentive to buy the best they can afford, not just the cheapest that can be delivered over the next year by affirmative-action appropiate companies.  Of course, if the property owners DO want to make sure the job is done by the "proper sort", they're free to throw their money away any way they wish.

As for police.
If my neighbor can't, or won't, provide security for his property, and that causes me risk, I'll probably pitch in to provide him with some minimal level of security for my own piece of mind.  Of course, if I'm paying for his security, it'll be arranged to best benefit me, and my fellow enrollees, with the benefits going to him being some calculated minimum so he accepts the security rather than locking them out.
If I have a shop, and there isn't a police presence, you can bet I'll pitch in for security for the whole area.  Who wants to run a shop where people are afraid to go?  A security presence makes everyone safer, and thus encourages business.
If there are people who won't pitch in, in either scenario, they aren't starved out.  They're provided the minimum benefit on their neighbors dime, so their neighbors don't suffer.  If they hold out for better security, (for free,) they can.  If their failure to help shoulder the burden, or even allow the burden to be shouldered, results in losses to their neighbors, (a criminal uses their property to escape, because the cops aren't allowed to cross,) they can be sued for aiding the criminal, treating it as a form of trespass.  More likely, though, the criminal will just hit them first.  Better odds of getting away, after all.

Leviathan on February 06, 2008, 12:57:44 am
Regardless, problems are usually given a better solution with private enterprise than a centralized government.  There are plenty of instances of government either putting a stopper on solutions and just taxing to pay for it, or outright killing new ideas because they want to manage something.  Whatever people end up with, so long as it doesn't involve initiation of force to accomplish, is going to be more ethical if not more convenient than government's "accomplishments".  And I'd love to see it, because even the transponder toll system is a little troublesome to get moving.