no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Speed Limits and Straw Men

August 27th, 2008

Adam Williams is kind of upset that someone called him a “commie” for supporting the Drive 55 initiative.

Perhaps “commie” isn’t the right word. But if you’re advocating that it’s the Federal Government’s prerogative, or if you’re advocating that the Federal Government ought to lower the speed limit on freeways to 55mph, then at the very least you’re a mild authoritarian. Blame government schools for failing to teach the kiddies the subtleties of political organization.

Now, Mr. Williams does say that he’s not in favor of such laws, but he wholeheartedly admits that he doesn’t oppose them, either. Behold, apathy; a scoundrel’s last refuge!

In any event, I’d like to preface this by pointing back to one of my earlier posts on anarchism and environmentalism:

[G]government is the largest impediment to the preservation of nature. Surely there are many reasons I could give in support of this thesis, but several come to mind immediatetly and without much effort on my part…

  1. Outright expropriation of title to land and/or resources
  2. Meddling in the financial markets through inflationary credit expansion
  3. Prior expropriation of all open, (generally) unowned land.

Governments continue to do all of these things. Yet the activists still believe that government is the way to preserve the environment! Clearly, it is not.

In response to a recent post of Adam’s at Sustainablog, it seems that several commenters were upset about further erosion of their liberties as manifested by a potential reduction in speed limit. Of course, they weren’t the most well-spoken individuals, but that doesn’t change the tune.  From this single data point, Mr. Williams draws the conclusion that, “If you aren’t OK with a federal speed limit of 55mph, then you are a nihilist.”

Think I’m guilty of hyperbole? In his most recent post, he elaborates on the straw man of a rebuttal he left in the comments there. All I hear is, “Blah, blah, blah.”

That means no traffic lights, no lanes painted on the roads, no road signs, no laws against theft, murder and abortion,

That means no law enforcement to call when the neighbors are acting out late at night, no prisons to house the criminals,

That means no control of our national borders, no war against terrorism,

That means no free, public education for the kiddies who become adulties, no military to kill our enemies,


If government didn’t build the roads, someone would. Doubt me? The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor is privately owned and operated. Honestly, the whole, “who will build the roads” argument is getting tiring. It is indicative of someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because anyone with five minutes and access to Google could tell you that privately provided roads have thrived in the past, and continue to thrive (ever hear of “subdivisions” or “shopping malls” or “parking lots”?) in the present.

No police? Like Officer Rivieri, who threatened to “fucking kill” some kids, for skateboarding?

No prisons to house the criminals? You mean, like the millions of people who are in jail or dead because they were smoking something that the government says they’re not allowed to smoke? Do you have any idea what it costs to house an inmate in our growing police state? In Michigan, the explicit costs are over $30,000 per. The true cost is probably closer to $100,000.

No border control? No War against Terrorism? Adam, maybe you are a “commie.” Border control is the systematic exploitation of people less fortunate than yourself.

No “free” (i.e., paid for by everyone else) public education? The same type of public education that has demonstrably failed to teach the kiddies where America is on a map, or the difference between authoritarianism, communism and fascism, capitalism and free-markets? Is that strike three?

No Military to kill our enemies? Wow. If, by enemies, you mean the imperialistic mass-murder of lots of brown-skinned foreigners who are not, nor were ever, a credible threat to your existence or mine, just, wow. The fact remains that America’s chief export is war. No wonder “they” hate “us”.

i continue to wonder, what if people who get so bent out of shape over a simple discussion online about driving 55 mph channeled some of that fiery passion into world issues that actually matter?

I can sympathize with you, Adam. There are certainly bigger fish to fry and, generally more pressing concerns.

But government, the single greatest threat to humanity, isn’t the solution. Enforcing your ideals on other people, at gunpoint, never is.



  • Nathan McKaskle says on: August 27, 2008 at 10:29 pm


    You might like my articles on the roads:

  • John Petrie says on: August 28, 2008 at 8:37 am


    This reminds me of something that Brad at linked to a while back, giving us some actual calculations on the proposed 55 mph national speed limit. It was by stand-up comedian Tim Slagle, writing for Liberty magazine (yes, stand-up comedians are often wiser than politicians and environmentalists):

    The [Associated Press] article states that slowing a car from 70 to 60 miles per hour will give you a 2 to 3% gain in efficiency. That paltry benefit is precisely the reason Americans refuse to slow down. It is simple economics; if gas costs $3.33 a gallon, a 3% savings amounts to around a dime a gallon. If your car burns gas at a rate of three gallons an hour, the 30 cents you save by driving 10 mph slower will take ten minutes out of your life. Very few people in America are willing to sell their time for three cents a minute.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics