Mike Watts

Frustrated by a main road being blocked following a land slip in February a local man, Mike Watts, in England has created his own private toll road which allows motorists to go around the blockage.


This has cost him £300,000 in total and he will lose his house if he fails to recoup this investment by charging motorists £2 to use it. It is the first such private toll road in existence in England in more than 100 years.


His decision was prompted mostly by frustration at the council’s delays, who estimate they will not have fixed the main road by Christmas, rather than any profit motive.


This is a perfect example of private initiative and entrepreneurship.

According to President Obama we should all gladly part with half our earnings because with regards to things such as roads and bridges we, you see, didn’t build those. Yet in one English county at least it was a private individual and not the local council who built a road much to the satisfaction of thousands of individuals and dozens of local businesses.


He has not only built a road where none existed before but did so in direct competition with the local government, whom he has completely upstaged.


And they are not happy by this flash of rugged self-reliance either.


Bath and North East Somerset Council said it did not support the private road and Mr Watts must still apply for retroactive planning permission, despite the farmer whose land this road goes across providing his permission.


The council whom Mr Watts has just upstaged so publicly by showcasing not so much their own peculiar incompetence but through essentially questioning so forcefully the very need for a council to build and maintain roads in the first place is the council that will provide such planning permission. Hopefully, given the national attention this seems to have received, they will not attempt to come down too hard on him.


The fact that such a road was created at all should be a strong rebuttal to those who ask ‘BUT WHO WILL BUILD THE ROADS!?’ when considering a libertarian’s views. Roads are still built when the government does not build them, and they are done so more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently too.


But this occurred with a government which on the one hand undertakes the responsibility to do everything for us turning us into docile and lazy sheep (by first taking half of what we earn and thus ensuring we can’t do it ourselves), and on the other attempts to prevent us from ever attempting to look after ourselves by a never-ending torrent of burdensome regulations.


The sense of self-worth that individuals’ possess and the satisfaction that comes with achieving something on your own through your own exertions must be very strong indeed to break through such legal and psychological constraints.


And it is through a proper understanding of the human condition and the importance of such self-worth and satisfaction to every individual which is what at heart makes libertarianism so appealing.


It is not simply considerations of matters of economic efficiency, although here too both go hand in hand; it is the most efficient system to manage an economy precisely because of its proper understanding of human beings.



But enough talk of economic efficiency and the human condition; well done to Mr Watts and I hope he recoups his investment before the council finally get off their bottoms and do something.