Category Archives: Housekeeping

Happy Birthday, Gabriel Roth

Gabriel Roth, who turns 90 years young today, is a rock star among transportation economists, and a special inspiration for those of us who support reducing the federal government’s role in transportation. According to his C.V., Roth earned degrees in engineering from London’s Imperial College in 1948 and economics from Cambridge in 1954.

In 1959, he began research into improved road pricing systems. This led to his appointment to a Ministry of Transport commission that published a 1964 report advocating pricing congested roads in order to end that congestion.

In 1966, the Institute for Economic Affairs published his paper, A Self-Financing Road System, which argued that user fees should pay for all roads, and not just be used to relieve congestion. Roads should be expanded, Roth noted, wherever user fees exceeded the cost of providing a particular road, but not elsewhere.

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Happy Thanksgiving

The Antiplanner dogs, Smokey, Zephyr, and Buffy, wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Buffy will be 17 in a few days and is still going strong. The long-haired dogs are thankful for our first snow of the season.

I am thankful for my faithful readers and all of their polite comments (not so much the impolite ones). I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday.


Back on the Road Again

The Antiplanner is going on a road trip from Oregon to Texas for the annual American Dream conference. Along the way, I’ll visit some national parks and national forests and probably wish I was in a fully self-driving car. Postings may be light for the next few days unless I find WiFi in the woods.

Speaking of self-driving cars, I keep reading articles arguing that we’ll have to teach ethics to self-driving cars. Given a choice between killing the occupant of a car or two people outside, should the car kill the occupant because the good of the many outweighs the good of the few? Given a choice between hitting a pedestrian and hitting another car full of people, should the car kill the pedestrian?

These are ridiculous questions. No one, not even a computer, is going to have time to count the number of occupants in another car and compare them with the number in a crowd of pedestrians before deciding which way to turn. The real ethical choice is to avoid the collision in the first place. A few accidents are inevitable, but something like 90 percent of auto accidents are due to human error. hose who want to argue ethics today are missing the point: take away the human error and everyone will be a lot better off.


Back in the Air Again

The Antiplanner is winging to Omaha today to speak tomorrow at a free-market forum sponsored by Hillsdale College. The subject of my presentation is “the effects of environmental regulation,” but I’ll focus on the type of regulation I know best: land-use regulation.

Specifically, I’ll argue that such regulation takes away people’s property rights without compensation; increases the cost of housing and any businesses that need land; increases the risk of owning such homes or businesses; harms low-income people in particular; reduces homeownership; and can threaten the entire economy a la the 2008 financial crisis. If you are at the forum, I look forward to seeing you there.


Debate over Plan Lafayette

On Thursday, September 10–a week from today–the Antiplanner will be in Lafayette, Louisiana to debate Charles Marohn, an advocate of “strong towns.” Of course, Marohn believes that we can have strong towns only through careful planning including such things as road diets, narrow roads, and transit–the usual anti-auto, anti-suburban prescriptions. In any case, if you are in Louisiana next week, I hope to see you there.


On Vacation

The Antiplanner is taking a break this week, hoping to bicycle, kayak, and hike in the wilderness. If anything interesting comes up, I’ll write about it, but I may not have many posts this week. I hope everyone else has a great summer.


Back in the Air Again

The Antiplanner is flying to Dallas today to participate in a Cato event tomorrow. My topic will be “Maintaining the Texas Miracle,” a subject I previously covered in Austin (clicking on the link downloads an 8-mb PowerPoint show).

On Friday, I’ll give essentially the same presentation in Houston. In both cities, I seem to be a warm-up act for other speakers, including the Danish journalist, Flemming Rose.

If you are in either Dallas or Houston, I hope to see you there. Naturally, in my off-hours I’ll be exploring both cities in search of Neapolitan pizza. I expect to find some in Dallas tonight and some in Houston Friday night, but my air travel between the two cities Thursday will force a late-night pizza that day. If you have any suggested pizzerias, don’t hesitate to let me know.