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Obviously we would have a private-sector contractor do the job (at the lowest bidder) and slowly get the job done, after which the final project would belong to the government. But how would this work under Objectivism, where the government consists of only police, courts, and military?

asked May 30 '12 at 21:50

Collin1's gravatar image


edited May 30 '12 at 22:30

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Technical answers to this question are numerous, it has been asked and answered in this way many, many times. Let me try and provide a more philosophical/logical perspective. Essentially the question commits the fallacy of assuming its conclusion, it might as well have been posed as, "Since only government can produce a reasonable solution, who would provide "X" if government didn't do it"? This is confirmed in the questioner's follow up comment, which fantasizes about results under a non government solution - results which are completely counter to all experience.

The answer to the question is simply, "Human beings would build our infrastructure", typically those men whose products (roads and gas stations for cars, cell towers for cell phones, airports and hangers for airplanes etc.) depend upon them for their success. The only difference when government doesn't usurp the responsibility is that rather than one team of reasonably smart men looking for a solution, we would have several teams, and potentially smarter men, ultimately finding the best possible solution that can be known by men of that period. And if the best solution turns out to be that the various inventors decide to collaborate and standardize their products in some way, they will be free to try that too (for evidence look at the technology sector).

Furthermore, all the evidence of the day demonstrates that private competitive industry makes possible the most fantastic products that monopolies fail to deliver. Despite having the technology and a government sanctioned monopoly for years, the phone companies did not bring us cellular technology or video, they stagnated as all monopolies do and it took the private sector to bring innovation to this field. The examples are endless, yet the mindset of those who ask this type of question is to simply refuse to recognize clear evidence and to make statements that show this refusal - such as the comment posted here by the questioner.

Free your mind and the solutions will follow.

answered Jun 02 '12 at 12:06

la_phil's gravatar image

la_phil ♦

edited Jun 19 '12 at 20:42

Exactly. This answer reminds me of what I saw circulated around Facebook recently, which said something like, "You don't have to figure out how the cotton is going to be picked to know that slavery is wrong."

(Jun 19 '12 at 18:37) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

The questioner very correctly points out that government, according to Objectivism, should be limited to the police, courts, and military. There would seem to be no "room" in that view of government for anything like a government-owned "national infrastructure." That, too, is completely correct. There simply would not be any "final project [that] would belong to the government" after being built by "a private-sector contractor." All "infrastructure" would be privately owned, privately conceived and built, privately run, privately funded, and thereby much better run than anything government might try to do for "intrastructure" (other than protecting it from foreign or domestic attack). Further details can be found in Ayn Rand's book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Refer also to the topics of "Capitalism" and "Public Property" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.

Ayn Rand's March 1964 interview in Playboy magazine also covers the "infrastructure" issue very directly and succinctly. When asked about the post office as a function of government (after a discussing voluntary taxation), Ayn Rand replied:

Now let's get this straight. My position is fully consistent. Not only the post office, but streets, roads and above all, schools, should all be privately owned and privately run. I advocate the separation of state and economics.... Everything else [besides the use of force] should all be privately run and would be much better run.

answered May 31 '12 at 02:31

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

If everything is private, that means that every highway is going to get tolled, backing up traffic. It'll take three hours just to get to the city from where I live! Also, how would the police get around? Don't they needed police stations? That would have to be publicly owned.

(May 31 '12 at 09:55) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

The toll roads are often faster than the jam-packed state highways in my experience. You don't have to have toll-collectors these days. Transponders do the job quite well.

(May 31 '12 at 11:53) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

I think the advent of self-driving cars is going to significantly change the infrastructure in the United States. A privately built and owned highway dedicated exclusively to self-driving cars would be a wonder. It'd make a great replacement for the majority (mile-wise) of the taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak system.

(Jun 03 '12 at 09:07) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Wait, police, courts, and military aren't what government should be limited to, they are the functions it should be limited to. The reason that formulation is important is because it includes, rather than excludes, government infrastructure like police stations, and administrative work. It is true, of course, that the rest of the infrastructure would be in private hands.

(Jun 03 '12 at 19:16) FCH FCH's gravatar image
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Asked: May 30 '12 at 21:50

Seen: 1,336 times

Last updated: Jun 19 '12 at 20:42