About 40 years ago, I went to an
About 20 years ago, for several months I did a daily commute from the
Thing is, it never seemed to happen this way. Angelinos merge. Or did merge. Car from the left, car from the right, car from the left, car from the right—every day, I was greeted with a spectacle of implicit order.
I haven’t any idea precisely what moral I should draw from this seeming inconsistency but I thought of both of these episodes yesterday when I heard Ian Lockwood, a traffic engineer, on NPR telling how you can reduce traffic damage by knocking down the traffic signs (link). As you can surmise by the foregoing, my experience tells me that it just may work—but not always. What interests me is the way it opens up a great can of worms in libertarian political discourse—the question of when, and under what circumstances, the government can do better by doing less.
Libertarians love to talk about the crimes and follies of government, and for my money, they are nearly always right. Trouble is, they almost never consider the alternative. Will life, in fact, go better, if the government just gets out of the way? If, as I suspect the answer is “yes and no,” then I would hear more about the question of when and why.
Clearly, most libertarians have little to offer on this issue. My guess is that a good many of them just don’t realize that it is an issue. It’s the mirror image of the old lefty argument that capitalism is bad, therefore socialism must be better.
There are honorable exceptions. One of the most exemplary is Robert Ellickson’s instructive little book on how they settle cattle disputes in