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Endnotes

  1. The author benefited from discussions with Jeff Tucker while writing this article; he wishes, also, to acknowledge the benefit of some very helpful suggestions made to him by two referees of this Journal.

  2. I owe this point to an anonymous referee of this journal.

  3. Homesteading is the process of mixing human labor with land, by farming it, or using it, or, in our present case, building a road on it. The classical justification for this form of establishing ownership over virgin territory is Locke (1948). For improvements and refinements, see Rothbard (1978, 1998) and Hoppe (1982).

  4. Seized means commandeered, or taken over by eminent domain, whether or not this taking (Epstein, 1985) was in any way compensated. (If there were full compensation, presumably there would have been no need for the state to condemn the property. City governments purchase paper, pencils, etc., on free markets every day).

  5. Suppose, to complicate matters, that one or a few taxpayers from the 18th or 19th centuries can be identified (or, rather, their heirs), but that in total the payments owed to them were a very small proportion of the present total value of the streets. Would these few claimants be given the streets in their entirety? Not in my view. The money they paid which went toward to paving of the streets, the setting up of traffic lights, etc., is a very small percentage of the site value of these thoroughfares. A similar analysis applies to the case where only one heir of a slave can be found, and there is a plantation to be divided up amongst the children of the slaves and the children of the slaveholders. Does the heir of the single slave obtain the entire inheritance? Not unless it can be shown that the labor services stolen from his grandfather, plus interest, amount to all or more of the value of the plantation. If not, then the heir of the slave owns only the value that can be attributed to his ancestor. On this see Block and Yeatts (1999-2000), Raimondo (2001), Rothbard (1998, p. 75), and Block (forthcoming).

  6. According to this proposal, any two owners located opposite of each other could together convert their little patch of road into a park. This would very much diminish the ability of the street to convey traffic. This is not to say that streets ought never be converted to parks. Economic efficiency would require that this occur only when the value of the land as a park exceeds that used as a street. When one entity owns the entire length of a street it will be in a position to internalize the externalities that might otherwise come into play.

  7. We also eschew discussion of the monopoly problem: where the road owner jacks up the price so far as to in effect capture the property values of all adjacent property. For a discussion of this issue see Block (1979).

  8. Not of the sort that characterized the heavyweight title fight between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.

  9. The classical statement of the relationship between transactions costs and the nature of the firm is Coase (1937); see also Coase (1992). Why is it that firms arise in markets, but no one firm takes over the entire economy? For Coase this has to do with the minimization of costs within and between firms. For example, it is very expensive for the waitress to bargain with the cook, offering him a price for the meal he gives her; in order to economize on these sorts of transactions, firms are created within which markets do not occur, but rather commands; e.g., the owner of the restaurant "commands" the cook to give the waitress the meal without charging her for it. However, unless there is vertical integration between the restaurant and the supplier of vegetables, for example, the former purchases these factors of production from the latter.

  10. Road fatality statistics are as follows: In the year 2000, there were 41,804 motor vehicle deaths. See on this http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/acc-inj.htm; accessed on 7/18/02.

  11. Optimal levels, of course, need not be zero. The latter might be approached if the private owners imposed a 5 miles per hour speed limit, and required all autos to be of Hummer quality or above (e.g., tanks), but it is my entrepreneurial understanding that this set of rules would not maximize profits.

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