Snow plow time!

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    So, I’ve encountered this argument twice in the last few weeks. I guess it’s the time of year. Whilst railing against taxation, I was confronted with something along the lines of “yeah, that’s great until you need your street plowed.”

    What is the libertarian argument against government funded “public goods” like snow clearing?

    Off the top of my head the answer would be something along the lines of a private contractor working for an apartment building. The building I live in pays a private contractor to come plow our parking lot. Why couldn’t neighbours make the same arrangements for themselves?

    But then I get hung up on the sheer size of some road systems, especially in cities. How would the libertarian perspective account for snow clearing in large cities?

    Thanks guys. I love the site and the threads in this forum are very interesting.


    In a truly libertarian society the roads would be privately owned and the clearance of the roads would be the responsibility of the road’s owner.

    Murray Rothbard addresses private roads in his Libertarian Manifesto

    Here is an audio link to the section on roads:


    Walter Block wrote a whole book called “The Privatization of Roads and Highways”
    Moreover, you have an incentive to plow the part of the street of your house and so have other people. In a city, stores, banks etc. along the streets have an incentive to plow these streets in order to attract customers…


    Semi-related anecdote. I grew up fairly far out in the country on a hill that wasn’t even paved, we had a gravel road. The county was allegedly responsible for maintenance, but you rarely saw them, ESPECIALLY following a storm. It would take them weeks to get to us.

    One year during a winter storm, a large tree near the road fell, completely blocking the path, basically trapping all of us on the hill. Can anyone guess what happened? Did we all freeze and starve to death? Absolutely not! All the neighbors got together, brought their chainsaws and other equipment, and we all spent a few hours clearing the tree from the road. Nobody was forced to show up and help, we all just did.

    Amazing how that works.


    agree with most of the above. I found it interesting one year when we got a lot of snow. I had to take my sister to work (in a mall) because I was the one driving a all wheel drive grand cherokee. I crept across the road because it was a slanted road (they are not well maintained here) that pulled my car to the side of the road. when I got to the mall, the circle around the privately owned mall was cleared better than the road I drove on. the parking lots were not clear but there was enough cleared (including the major driving ways) to accommodate some customers.

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