📆 January 9, 2022 | ⏱️ 4 minute read

Toll Roads Should Be Illegal

I will go out of my way to avoid toll roads. I don’t care if it costs more. I don’t care if they’re better quality. I’m aware that even if I don’t pay tolls on private roads, I still pay for the upkeep of public roads through taxes. I still believe public roads are superior and toll roads should be illegal.

When I pay taxes for public infrastructure and services that everyone needs, I don’t have to pay for them at the point of service. I don’t have to think about fees or wade through red tape or do mental housekeeping. The infrastructure is just there when it’s needed, no questions asked.

Even if I never drive and I’m just paying road upkeep for others, I’m okay with that. Enough other people need to drive that I don’t mind it. Helping others feels good. Some drivers are workers delivering food and other resources I need to live. I don’t want them to be impeded.

As a programmer, I like smoothly-operating minimally complex systems. Reducing complexity is usually a good thing. Less complexity in society means we can understand it better and identify and fix the problems faster.

Having toll roads needlessly increases complexity of the highway system at the expense of drivers. Toll roads slow down traffic. They create bullshit jobs (toll booth attendants). They require persistent video surveillance and many use RFID, making them surveillance monsters. They also harass drivers with fines, arrests, and loss of driving privileges. All needless complication.

The idea of toll roads being temporary until construction costs are covered has worked out for some roads, but in other cases, the private corporations remain, charging drivers higher and higher toll fees decades after the cost of building the road is recovered. Perhaps temporary tolls would be okay if the government could force them to close after the cost is made up.

The argument that toll roads are higher quality misses the point that some people can’t afford them. High quality roads should be available to all. The government mismanaging tax money and not fixing roads is no reason to privatize roads. It’s a reason to fix the government.

Imagine how ridiculous it would be if I proposed a toll sidewalk. To walk on it, you have to pay my toll. I set my fees high because walking a different route takes a lot longer. I have surveillance cameras on my sidewalk to make sure unauthorized people don’t walk it. I justify my strip of sidewalk by pointing out it’s better maintained than the public sidewalk, which you might fall or trip on since the government doesn’t maintain it well.

Obviously absurd. We want better maintained public sidewalks, not private toll sidewalks. Toll roads are absurd for the same reasons. Sidewalks and roads should be both well-maintained and available to all. And this thinking extends beyond just roads.

In wealthy societies, we ought to pool resources for things everybody needs. For example, everybody needs shelter, enough food to live, enough clean water to live, internet, healthcare, sidewalks and roads. The idea that poor people should starve or freeze out in the cold just because it might require each individual to chip in a small amount is repugnant.

I understand the desire to avoid paying taxes when your corrupt government blows it on the rich instead of spending it on things everybody needs. But I don’t understand being so stingy that you won’t chip in even when it goes directly towards things everybody needs.

There are people that would like to privatize everything and have everyone pay at the point of service. They disagree on principle with taxes because taxes might benefit others, which goes against their believe that people living in a society shouldn’t help each other out. This is just extreme stinginess.

I believe in taxes that go towards the common good, but not towards the bloated military budget enriching defense contractors. I believe sharing with others is fundamentally good and that we must eliminate toll roads because roads should be shared among all drivers, not just those who can afford the high fees.