Private Citizens Perform $4 Million Road Repair Job For Free in 8 Days

Anyone who thinks we need government to build and maintain roads may want to consider Kauai residents don’t wait for state to repair road:

Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii’s Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park — for free.

Polihale State Park has been closed since severe flooding destroyed an access road to the park and damaged facilities in December.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had estimated that the damage would cost $4 million to fix, money the agency doesn’t have, according to a news release from department Chairwoman Laura Thielen.

“It would not have been open this summer, and it probably wouldn’t be open next summer,” said Bruce Pleas, a local surfer who helped organize the volunteers. “They said it would probably take two years. And with the way they are cutting funds, we felt like they’d never get the money to fix it.”

And if the repairs weren’t made, some business owners faced the possibility of having to shut down.

Ivan Slack, co-owner of Napali Kayak, said his company relies solely on revenue from kayak tours and needs the state park to be open to operate. The company jumped in and donated resources because it knew that without the repairs, Napali Kayak would be in financial trouble.

“If the park is not open, it would be extreme for us, to say the least,” he said. “Bankruptcy would be imminent. How many years can you be expected to continue operating, owning 15-passenger vans, $2 million in insurance and a staff? For us, it was crucial, and our survival was dependent on it. That park is the key to the sheer survival of the business.”

So Slack, other business owners and residents made the decision not to sit on their hands and wait for state money that many expected would never come. Instead, they pulled together machinery and manpower and hit the ground running March 23. VideoWatch the volunteers repairing the road »

And after only eight days, all of the repairs were done, Pleas said. It was a shockingly quick fix to a problem that may have taken much longer if they waited for state money to funnel in.

“We can wait around for the state or federal government to make this move, or we can go out and do our part,” Slack said. “Just like everyone’s sitting around waiting for a stimulus check, we were waiting for this but decided we couldn’t wait anymore.”

Thielen has been waiting, too. She wants the legislature to approve her Recreation Renaissance project, a $240 million booster shot to help fix parks across the state. Without it, at least five state parks may be forced to close, and there would be no emergency repair money to fix Polihale State Park.

“We shouldn’t have to do this, but when it gets to a state level, it just gets so bureaucratic, something that took us eight days would have taken them years,” said Troy Martin of Martin Steel, who donated machinery and steel for the repairs. “So we got together — the community — and we got it done.” PhotoSee photos of the volunteers working to repair the road »

The park is a fixture on the west side of the island and a favorite spot for many in the area, but it’s also a hub for tourists.

“Tourism is our lifeblood. It’s what pays all of our bills,” Slack said. “The money that pours in comes from tourism is really an important factor for everyone here in Hawaii, and it’s such an important time to encourage tourism.”

And it’s an important time to keep jobs, which were threatened if the park had to remain closed. In February, Kauai‘s unemployment rate was at 9.1 percent, up from 2.8 percent during the same time in 2008, according to Hawaii’s Department of Labor.

“I think it’s crucial to say the doors are open, everyone is ready,” Slack said. “So when one of the most important parks in Hawaii is closed, it really changes things.”

Now, because of their hard work, volunteers hope they’ll be ready to send that positive message — right in time for the tourist season.

Slack said he likes to have business up and running by April 15, and the season gets busy around May 1.

The business owners and residents are hopeful that their generous contributions in time and resources mean the park should officially open soon. Pleas says they have only to get the new bridge certified and do minor cleanup.

“A lot of people are quietly sitting by, waiting for it to open,” Slack said. “This really this is one of the nicest parks in the state and in all of Hawaii, in the entire state parks department. Now, hopefully, those people get their wish.”

It is a complete myth to believe we need government to manage roads. Throughout history, it has been common for private merchant associations to take care of municipal infrastructure. They did so not for altruistic reasons, but simple to maximize their own profit by maximizing traffic.

Anyone still wondering how their tax dollars are going to be wasted, here is your answer: $4 million for a job that private business can do for free in 8 days. Government contractors are already drooling after the insane profits they will be making off of overpriced stimulus deals.

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50 thoughts on “Private Citizens Perform $4 Million Road Repair Job For Free in 8 Days”

  1. Why shouldn’t someone profit off my needs for travel? Poor capital owners hardly get a break these days.

  2. Okay, you’ve got a large point about bureaucracy sucking and us being able to do much more for ourselves, but c’mon: “It is a complete myth to believe we need government to manage roads.” Who’s gonna pay for highways through Mississippi and South Dakota, the people who live there? I wouldn’t think so. It seems like this makes sense to you, too, because your next point is about merchants’ associations and MUNICIPAL roads. Also, what about the costs of real roads as opposed to just a dirt regrade and a couple of bridge rebuilds in the Hawaii article?

  3. Well, the govt doesn’t need to maintain roads where there are viable businesses which can do it. Those businesses should have made it a toll road. However, in the cases where there are lots of poor who do NOT have the financial resources to do this, it is not realistic to think they don’t need roads.

    Also, your title is completely misleading, it’s not private citizens that did the work, it was several businesses. Not the govt, yes, but not citizens either.

  4. It was democracy in action, not “free market” in action. Nothing was traded, and no money exchanged hands. The market had nothing to do with this.

    This is how democracy should work. They demonstrated how an anarchist society would work. It had nothing to do with “markets”, or private ownership, or anything silly like that.

  5. Some answers to clarify the misunderstandings that most responses are based upon:

    “Who’s gonna pay for highways through Mississippi and South Dakota, the people who live there?”

    – Very simple. Whoever think they need a road going through Mississippi and South Dakota will pay for it. There is nothing complicated or arcane about this.

    “in the cases where there are lots of poor who do NOT have the financial resources to do this, it is not realistic to think they don’t need roads.”

    – You are now talking about the ability to AFFORD roads, not to build them. This is not an issue of government infrastructure management, but of welfare policy. Welfare programs can allocate money from wealthy to poor areas so that funding will be available for roads. Now I am not saying that government welfare programs are better than voluntary ones, I am merely pointing out that this argument completely misses the point.

    ‘…it’s not private citizens that did the work, it was several businesses’

    – Who owns the businesses if not private citizens?

    “It was democracy in action, not “free market” in action.”

    – Which point in my post are you arguing?

    “They demonstrated how an anarchist society would work. It had nothing to do with “markets”, or private ownership, or anything silly like that.”

    – A true anarchist society can only function under private ownership of all means of production. Thus private ownership and anarchism are inextricably linked.

  6. While few things in Korea woud appeal to anyone with libertarian economic ideals, expressway construction and managment would be the exception. The Korean Expressway Corporation(EX) is a for profit entity established by the Korea government and generated the equivalent of 22 million dollars for its investors in 2007. It is responsible for almost the entire expressway system in South Korea. While its investors are government entities at the moment, some of them (Korea Development Bank) are in the process of being privatized.

    You can take a look at the balance sheet and everything:

    They even have private competitors! Hyundai Developement Company looked at EX’s road between Daegu and Pusan and decide d they could cut a half hour off the transit time, so they build a new one and established a limited liability corporation known as “New Daegu Busan Expressway Co. Ltd.” to operate it. (sorry that last one is in Korean)

  7. @captbbq: thanks for the great input. it is always good to crush false ideas with hard facts. the more striking the evidence, the more agitated the opponents will get. and the more ridiculous they will sound when trying to defend their shallow, ancient, and false theories.

  8. Nima, my pleasure. Here’s a short paper comparing both the Japanese and Korean methods for highway development through public corporations:

    It’s pretty good proof of concept, despite both taking subsidies from the government, since most of the funding seems provided with internal revenue and loans were taken out when needed to fund various projects (as any private enterprise would do).

    These Asian economies had to develop quickly, and didn’t have time for lumbering bureaucracies, its not surprising that they took a different approach to things than the west.

    If any of this gives you an idea for a blog post don’t even bother with the hat tip, just go for it. I am happy enough to know this knowledge is being disseminated form a podium bigger than mine.

  9. Funny how folks can even complain when work is done by business for the public and private good.
    If you look at the record of the roadbuilding companies hired by government you’ll see a whole lot of time and a bigger amount of money spent for roads that don’t last near as long as the original Interstate system has lasted.
    Substandard materials, poor inspection oversight by engineers hired to supervise and verify, and just plain theft and fraud are common in the roadbuilding business.

  10. Now, how long will it be before the citizen fix is declared “not good enough” and undone, with the people involved cited for vandalism to public property, or for some environmental infraction? I bet that will happen a lot sooner than 2 years.

  11. Boston talk radio personality Michael Graham quipped that if you spent $10 billion on a tunnel in Chicago, you’d get the best $6 billion tunnel money could buy.

  12. I expect more and more private individuals to offer their services to do things that government bureaucrats can’t or simply won’t do. And I predict that union officials and other entitled conservatives will make complete scumbags of themselves as they ferociously oppose those people’s displays of voluntaryism in action.

  13. With regards to the Korea Expressway corp.
    They were created in the late 60s under the dictatorship of Park Jung Hee. 100% funded by the government. And Korea in the 60s was anything but the market working untouched by government hands.
    Their investors now are something like 98% government organizations.
    Hardly anything to write about in a blog that is supposed to be about the efficiency of the free market.

  14. Define “free.” Nothing is free. This road was not free. Also, fixing a section of road through a national park bears no resemblance to interstate road and highway construction and maintenance. A neighborbood might join together to repair their culdesac; this is not the same as building tens of thousands of miles of interstate highway. Please try again.

  15. @umm, yeah – if you think that the sum-total of my argument is confined to this one single anecdote, I think you might be missing the point of what it is that I’m doing here. If you were a curious and open individual you would certainly not ask me to “try again”, but rather go out on the internet yourself and gather more information about fascinating things like private turnpikes throughout the 19th century, etc.

    That is, like I said, if you’re a curious and open individual … =)

  16. Please cite when any such libertarian scenario has survived and thrived for generations in the history of humankind. No pie-in-the-sky. Give me more than theory in a bell jar. All of those people who participated in this one event won’t necessarily support it as an ongoing economic model for their lives and livelihood . Give me one example of entire a society that has flourished over substantial time with this economic model.

  17. Nice read. Also ty Nima for responding to all these comments logically, you’re not alone in your beliefs on this. :)

  18. The government should give those people $1M for the work they did…a savings of $3M…doubt that will happen thou….

  19. First, of all, I was snarky when I shouldn’t have been so I’m sorry for that.
    Next, I want the gov’t to be obsolete and irrelevant as much as the next person. But, examples of fixing one section of an access road and private municipal road-works do not begin to approach the complexity and demands of, for example, interstate highways and critical bridges.
    Ever try to travel long distances on the “back roads”? It frequently takes two or three times as long. Interstate commerce cannot wait to smell the roses.
    Municipal road projects are just that… municipal; in other words, stopping at the edge of town.
    So, gov’t may not be the most efficient, just, or expedient way of doing things but, as this article demonstrates MORE gov’t funding is needed to keep our infrastructure maintained, not less. In mean, really, these citizens fixed one small section of a dirt road. This experience is not susceptible to extrapolation into a general disavowal of gov’t efficacy in building and maintaining infrastructure.

  20. Thank you, Nima. I appreciate reading about triumph over government bureaucracy however large or small. We can help ourselves. They need us more than we need them. Although there is a large segment of our population that is entrenched in the welfare mentality, some of us realize that ultimately it is the people that have the power to make things happen.

  21. @umm, yeah: OK, but keep in mind that we’re looking at this in the context of a system with a big existing welfare/warfare/taxation state where a lot of money is taken away from this and future generations already, so we won’t really know HOW EXACTLY the problem of transportation will get solved in a system of voluntary and free competition. Who knows, maybe roads aren’t even the best means of transportation? Maybe we’d be far less dependent on fossil fuels if the government didn’t subsidize roads all over the place?

    On that same token, 200 years ago I could not have told you HOW EXACTLY cotton would be picked without slavery, if I had told you back then that it’ll be done via giant metal machines that run on crushed dinosaur juice you’d have called me insane! Those who were building tunnels to rescue slaves and channel them back into regular society on their own dime were doing so only BECAUSE of the existence of slavery, so of course the process was not all smooth sailing.

    I view this example in a similar light: People trying to do the best they can in a shitty system through peaceful and voluntary means.

    This is the whole point of allowing for free enterprise and competition to overcome theft and monopoly: That nobody by himself has the perfect answer, and most definitely not when he has to fund his entire operation by bureaucratic means, that is by looting and distributing the loot amongst rivaling groups.

  22. @Slap Back The Bully: OK, you want examples of how the initiation of violence or threat thereof was withdrawn and replaced with voluntary and peaceful choices lastingly. Here you go:

    – the abolishion of the practice of extorting money from people (taxation) for the purpose of paying state troopers to catch runaway slaves, also commonly known as “Slavery”

    – the abolishion of the practice of extorting money from people (taxation) for the purpose of paying the police to lock up women in asylums who dared to try and choose their own husbands instead of getting them forced upon them, allowing them to divorce from abusive husbands if necessary

    – the abolishion of the practice of using taxpayer money to shake down individuals who tried to own their own property run their own businesses, against conventions enforced by aristocracy and the priestly classes, also commonly known as “Feudalism” or “Serfdom”

    Those all seem to have held up for quite some time, no?


  23. @Slap Back the Bully……why? Why should Nima have to give you evidence of a multi-generational society that has flourished in human history? The current society that we are living in is highly unsustainable and Nima as well as many others appears to be looking at alternatives. What is wrong with trying these principles? The principles we operate under now have been proven time and again to fail. What is wrong with implementing a different approach? Why does there have to be a precedent set at all? You can’t solve a problem on the level it was created. Implementing new ideas about the way things can work may be our only hope. As each generation comes in, their perspective is different that the generation before it. These new perspectives are the answers to a collective prayer for things to be different. As Nima stated above in the example of picking cotton, 200 years ago no one could have predicted how it is done now. New ideas for creating a flourishing society will come with each new generation and so what if they can’t be proven to naysayers based on societies in the past. At some point we have to just “get over it and get on with it”. The answer is not more government. The answer is to be innovative and move forward with ideas and create a new paradigm. There doesn’t have to be a past society proving anything works for us to try these ideas now because what we currently operate under is not working. Find the thing that will work and move with it. Don’t limit anyone because you can’t conceive of it working.

  24. WOW! You mean that we citizens can do things without our government?!? Next your gonna tell me the people in charge are just like you and me!

    I mean seriously, obviously thr government needs to babysit us, everystep of the way, from raising our kids, to saying who can marry who, and allowing the infrastructure to fall into such disrepair it shames the entire nation!

  25. Hell yes! These businesses were dependent upon Polihale State Park, and didn’t need government in their lives whatsoever! Suck it, state of Hawaii! We don’t need your roads!

  26. No, Nima….I did not ask for isolated examples within an essentially capitalist society where a libertarian principle has worked. We can give such examples about libertarianism, socialism, and capitalism in any society – where that particular principle has worked. Stop re-writing my challenge to suit your ability to answer.

    I asked you to give me one an example of an entire society that has flourished over substantial time with this economic model.

    And syrinx, just stating that another form of society is dysfunctional and broken (name one that isn’t), does not strengthen the case for the alternative you propose to work any better overall. That’s a cheap shot and copout. Ultimately, a society and economic structure is only as good as the ability to make it work. There is nothing new about this debate. It’s as old as the hills. Do you think libertarianism is new or original in any way. This has been debated through application (along with theory) down through generations and – again and again – the citizens have chose socialist and capitalist alternatives over the workability of pure libertarianism. It’s hard to argue with that. It wasn’t big government that put the first public waterworks into most small communities…it was the citizens who chose to do it that way and pay for it through community taxes.

    Again, I pose the challenge: Give me one an example of an entire society that has flourished over substantial time with a libertarian economic model.

  27. @Slap Back The Bully: I think I have done my best to give you food for thought.

    There was a time up to which no society without slavery had existed. There was a time up to which no society without equal rights for women had existed. There was a time up to which no society without Feudalism had existed.

    I could link you to texts about ancient anarchist Ireland which arguably lasted for about 1000 years. But even if that was not the case … since when do we have to point you to examples of how an untried and in its reception relatively novel idea USED to work in the past.

    That’s the whole point of progress!

    How ridiculous would it have been 20 years ago to ask the inventor of TCP/IP to please present examples of an entire society where the internet has flourished over substantial time with a common protocol standard.

    This is from my Voluntaryism/Anarchism FAQ:

    7. But there are no examples of voluntaryism ever having worked, are there ??
    This is a very commonly held notion. It shows how severely our beliefs have been compromised by false ideologies throughout our lives.

    For if one took one simple look around oneself, he would find the answer to this question at once. The best example of voluntaryism working … is yourself.

    You cooperate in society on a voluntary basis. You don’t use aggression to buy groceries. You don’t use aggression to get your clothes. You don’t use aggression when debating with friends and family. You don’t use aggression to find a job. You don’t use aggression to settle disputes with neighbors, clients, vendors, employees, etc. You are perfectly capable of living peaceful, free, and beautiful lives.

    It is in very few cases where we ever interact with anybody from the state. Every April 15th we file our taxes to confirm how much the state has taken from us throughout the year. Sometimes we don’t, and then a tax collector shows up to make us do it or kidnap us at gunpoint if we don’t. Sometimes we go to the DMV to get a driver’s licence. At times we get fined by the police because we do a U Turn where they decree, for whatever reason, that it is illegal. We send our kids to public schools where they spend 14 years of their life being indoctrinated about how great the state is, where diverse talents and opinions are put through the meat grinder of collective thinking and conformity, where opposing ideas such as presented in this article are not even for a second tolerated.

    All these interactions we have with the state are, in general, rather unpleasant, boring, frustrating, and un-gratifying. Yet, due to a lack of proper education about the alternative of voluntaryism, we believe that it is utterly necessary to have this group of people with the right to use aggression against us to fund their destructive activities, be it domestic or foreign depredations, to borrow our children’s future into oblivion, and then, out of all things, to EDUCATE those same children for 14 (!!) years of their lives.

    It will take years of enlightenment, dedication, and education, to open people’s eyes about one of the most simple facts about themselves: that they are inherently good.

    I hope this helps! :)


  28. Actually, I didn’t need your food for thought, Nima. I’ve seen it all before and studied it all before. This stuff is as old as the hills. The same goes for “anarchy” and “libertarianism”. It’s not some new technology like the internet – that was untried and never tested until relatively recently. There is nothing new or “novel” about the libertarian concept; even your desire to introduce an ancient example you are unwilling to document proves that. As an economic structure and theory, anarchy has been debated endlessly for centuries- and it has been tried and tested and found wanting again and again through history by people with as much vision and wisdom as any of us here today. It is a pie-in-the-sky hypothetical scenario that has never been successfully implemented for long without the citizens of a society choosing other options. With all due respect, too many have the arrogance to think that because something is relatively new to their little universe that it is therefore new to the universe at large. That is a common and foolish mistake. Thanks for playing.

  29. By the way, your fundamental argument from the FAQ should be insulting to everybody who reads it and all who have gone before us. It presumes that we and they are all victims who have been brainwashed by big government and beaten into submission without citizens ever having chosen options other than anarchy of our own accord. You presume that “government” is always somebody else – the big mythical “them” in the sky, trying to control our lives. In reality, government has often been the product of our own desires and judgement as a citizenry. While it is also true that this has just as often not been the case – human beings have directly governed themselves again and again throughout time. You see, the more people involved the more disagreement you will find on how to govern or even what kind of society is desired. So, with an inevitable regularity, “the state” is “us”.

  30. @Slap Back The Bully: I think it’s quite instructive (and in my experience unfortunately inevitable) that you claim to have “seen it all before” and then go on to ignore every single one of the examples that I provided you while at the same time bringing up some of the most commonly known and oft-refuted arguments against voluntaryism.

    And where now did I say or even imply that the concept of the state has not been the product of our own desires and judgement as a citizenry? If I said or implied that anywhere, then I apologize for misspeaking, because it couldn’t be farther from what I believe and have argued over and over in numerous posts and comments.

    In fact, you yourself are a perfect example …

    Barack Obama doesn’t bother to come here and put me down for my ideas. It’s other citizens, such as yourself, who are more than willing to do the job “for him”. In that sense, the state is not the president or the prime minister, the state is indeed “us”, or in this example more specifically “you”.

    Slavery, too, to a large degree rested upon slave on slave violence, because it is much less expensive to keep people in check by instilling in their minds ideas that impel them to attach one another’s ideas rather than their masters’.

    Why do you think it is that bureaucrats always and everywhere seems to be so keen on using extorted money to “educate” the young about how great and necessary the state is. :)

    The more people are willing to think outside the box and speak the truth against pre-conceived or instilled notions, like the many brave souls posting comments on this particular post for example, the more statism will vanish into nothingness.

  31. Again Nima, thank you. I appreciate your thoughts.
    @Slap Back the Bully, I did not realize what an expert you apparently are. I note that you haven’t really provided much more than negative feedback. There is no positive take away in your comments about how we can make our current society a better one. All you have done is merely stir the pot and indicate that your way of thinking is somehow better than ours. Am I correct in assuming then, that since libertarian ideas have not been proven to work in a society at large over the course of time that we should abandon these ideas completely and simply let the state completely take over? Shall we leave things just as they are? Sorry. No can do. Whether you like it or not, things are changing and a new paradigm is taking place. There has been a shift and there will be more. More people are becoming awake and aware. And really, over the course of time is it really the citizens that have chosen “other options” or is it those we put in power that corrupt the ideal and mask what deeds they perpetrate? That is another huge offshoot to this conversation however.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

  32. This would be a interesting concept but unfortunately I doubt it would flourish without a massive public involvement keeping the government from caving to the pressure of the business that typically perform these type of jobs.

  33. Well, I notice you deleted my last reply to you…so I don’t know how open your forum really is or if you really want a response, or if this is just the sound of one hand clapping in here. But – I will conclude on this point: I do not think things are hunky dory, and I do think there will always be room for a significant number of libertarian solutions to many problems in society. What history tells me, however, is that a completely anarchist, libertarian state is unlikely to ever exist for long before the citizens decide other economic solutions are preferable to many issues they face. I have never embraced any ideology or economic mindset that elevates one aspect of human nature above another aspect of human nature. That’s why both the idealist blatherings of the Randian/Von Mises acolytes and the Socialist/Communist acolytes have always failed ultimately when put into practical application as an overall societal structure.

  34. @Chris: I don’t believe the post above is about an “interesting concept”, as much as it gives you a practical real life example of something that actually did happen in the real world. I have lots of posts where I explain and talk about concepts, but I wouldn’t really consider this one of them.

  35. I’d say this is a good example of people who are sick of waiting around due to government bureaucracy. Obviously government must change, but I do not see this small event as a call to arms to turn into a libertarian society. It seems that whenever we hand over everything to private enterprise, the little guy is eventually squashed out of existence. Turns out human beings There is no working example of a libertarian country, or state, or even a small town. It seems like there have been attempts at it over the centuries, but It ultimately falls short. I do not fully understand this call to bring the government to it’s knees, rather than try and fix the problems with it.

  36. @ Slap back and fitzfilmfx. The both of you are missing the point. America was founded on libertarian ideas. Libertarianism is not new but it is much younger then statism. If you look at the whole of modern civilization excluding our hunter gatherer days we have, inch by inch, become more libertarian. Of coarse there have been back slides most notably the dark ages for those of European decent and the age of imperialism for those unfortinante enugh to be non-Caucasian between 1850 and 1914. You could argue that reliance on a centralized authority and sanctioned violence is the experiment that has failed. The theory only being able to exist in a vacuum. Hear too I have missed the point. The point is that it’s the individual that matters not the collective. Individualism is tried and true. It works and it works well. I’m an idealist, I know, but I believe idealism is only as good as the ideas that form it’s foundation. And it is my belife that the idea of ME demands idealism. Keeping that in mind let’s not fall into the trap of using the perfect to destroy the good.

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