Chuck Donovan on A Real Right to Travel

Via Bludgeon and Skewer. Chuck Donovan ran for US Senate in Georgia in 2010 as a Libertarian Party candidate.


I have spoken many times on how government has forcibly intervened in nearly every aspect of our lives. Nothing represents more completely, the full control of government in our lives, than the issue of public roads.

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die on our roads. Look at the death toll from more than 15 years of the Viet Nam war, and you will see we kill a greater number every two years on our roads. Only private innovations in vehicle technology and engineering have made it safer for us to drive. Government has done nothing to improve road engineering, signal technology, traffic management, and especially nothing to improve driver licensing, training, or education.

The time has come to find better ways to make ourselves, our families, and our fellow Americans safer on our roads. We have to honestly admit what has not worked and terminate those wasteful programs. Driver licensing has not made us safer. It has not stopped incompetent and dangerous drivers from operating their vehicles next to us on our roads. What licensing has done is to increase the size, scope, and the cost of government. Driver licensing is a failed program and it should be terminated.

As I said in my campaign, I believe Georgia has what it takes to be a leader to the rest of our country and to the world. Eliminating needless and failed bureaucracy will allow us to better use limited fiscal resources in programs that would better serve the safety of our families and our fellow Georgians.

Below is a letter written by Bill Evelyn, Director of the Georgia State Tea Party. I know that Bill has the best interests of his family and fellow citizens at heart, as well as the best interests of our state. I agree with him that this is the kind of legislation we should pass quickly.

Bold action and leadership are necessary to move Georgia during these difficult economic times and the far more challenging times I predict in our near future. HB7 is that kind of bold, forward reaching action.

In liberty,

CHUCK DONOVAN

The mission is liberty,The vision is now.

__________________________________________________________

Subject: HB7 Right to Travel Act

To: The Right and Honorable Georgia General Assembly,

When I was young and pestering my grandfather to allow me to drive his truck, he told me a very interesting story. My grandfather had moved from a farm in Virginia in 1929 to Pennsylvania for work. His farm had failed and he was broke. He managed to get a job driving a commercial dump truck for Samuel McAdam constructing the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He got that job with the experience of driving a vegetable truck to the Richmond Farmers Market. My grandfather taught himself to drive and he drove for 35 accident free years before he was required to get a license or test to get that license. He taught my father to drive in the 1940′s before a license and test was required. My father started teaching me to drive when I was ten. At the age of fourteen he cleared me solo and I drove down the street to a friends farm. On my 16th birthday we drove to the testing station and I earned my license.

You will note that not one bureaucrat had any input on my driving instruction. Both my grandfather and father made the decision to turn over the family car to their son when they were comfortable they could drive safely. Do you honestly think passing HB7 will make the killing lanes of I-285, I-85, and I-75 more unsafe?

Rep. Franklin’s Bill only returns us to a time before the big government people started requiring a license and testing. In the 1930′s and 1940′s you mailed for a license in Georgia, no testing was required until the 1950′s.

If you pass HB7 you can eliminate a huge bureaucracy, free up officers for the beat, and free up real estate to be sold off to the highest bidder. That should help you balance the budget. I really hope that you consider voting YES for HB7.

27 thoughts on “Chuck Donovan on A Real Right to Travel

  1. paulie Post author

    JJM

    Interesting website redesign.

    You can add your articles at IPR to your list of sites that publish your stuff…

  2. John Jay Myers

    Still a work in progress, I am just messing about.
    I was trying to google and list all articles, but I have found a plug-in called “accordian” that I will use for that instead of the blog format.
    I have a WordPress blog plug in that I am trying to install so I can start using that as a blog.

    And of course it needs a videos page, but I am just kind of building it as I go.

  3. wolfefan

    Why did testing begin in Georgia in the 1950’s? Was there a sense in Georgia at that time that there were too many people on the road who didn’t know how to drive, thus creating unsafe conditions which create a very real possibility of infringing on _my_ personal liberty by injuring or killing me? Many licensing schemes are no more than rent-seeking, I agree. Driving, however, may be a place where the state has a valid role in determining standards.

    John Jay – does Baldwin really strike you as particularly Libertarian?

  4. langa

    Many licensing schemes are no more than rent-seeking, I agree. Driving, however, may be a place where the state has a valid role in determining standards.

    Reckless driving is a crime, and would continue to be a crime, regardless of whether the person has, or is required to have, a license.

    … does Baldwin really strike you as particularly Libertarian?

    This article is about Chuck Donovan of the LP, not Chuck Baldwin of the CP.

  5. wolfefan

    I read the bill – while there is a constitutional right to travel, that is not the same as a right to drive. If it were, then by what logic would I not have the right to fly an airplane without a license? Or do I in fact have that right under the general right to travel?

    Certainly reckless driving would continue to be a crime, but that would be cold comfort to my disabled wife at home if I were killed by the incompetent driver who might otherwise have been weeded out by a test of minimal competency. She could presumably sue in civil court, but if whomever hit me is in jail for reckess driving or vehicular manslaughter or whatever it’s doubtful she could collect anything. And I suspect that mandatory insurance is a violation of libertarian principles for many, so there’s no place there for her to collect there either.

    Debates about libertarian principles (at least on this site) are often about what libertarians would/should do at the federal level. But the reality is that most regulations occur at the state and local levels, and while many are silly or wrong, some have also reasonably arisen in response to specific problems. Is this really the most important and most egregious violation of liberty in Georgia? If so it must be close to a libertarian paradise.

  6. langa

    If it were, then by what logic would I not have the right to fly an airplane without a license? Or do I in fact have that right under the general right to travel?

    As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t be legally required to have a license to fly a plane either, although if you were operating a commercial airline, chances are having licensed pilots would be a good for business. Of course, as in the case of driving, you would be fully responsible for any damages you caused by flying poorly, regardless of whether you had a license.

    Certainly reckless driving would continue to be a crime, but that would be cold comfort to my disabled wife at home if I were killed by the incompetent driver who might otherwise have been weeded out by a test of minimal competency.

    Once you start making crimes out of potentially harmful activity, as opposed to actually harmful activity, you are halfway down the road to tyranny. Furthermore, if Georgia’s licensing laws were really about “weeding out” incompetent drivers, they would surely require testing at regular intervals. Instead, you take one test, at age 16, then you never have to take a test again. Every 4 years, you just pay your money and get your new license. There used to be an eye test, but now you can apply online and have the license mailed to you. My great aunt, who is legally blind in both eyes, just got a new license a couple of years ago.

    She could presumably sue in civil court, but if whomever hit me is in jail for reckess driving or vehicular manslaughter or whatever it’s doubtful she could collect anything. And I suspect that mandatory insurance is a violation of libertarian principles for many, so there’s no place there for her to collect there either.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of restitution, so i would not be opposed to a law stating that if you chose to drive (or fly) without insurance, you would still be liable for any damages caused, even if it meant the seizure of your property and/or the garnishment of your wages, for as long as it took. I’m all about personal freedom, but only if it comes with personal responsibility.

    Is this really the most important and most egregious violation of liberty in Georgia? If so it must be close to a libertarian paradise.

    Well, first of all, it’s not as trivial as it may seem. For example, people who are convicted of other crimes, like drug possession, often lose their license as part of their punishment. This effectively denies them the right to travel, which makes it difficult for them to get legitimate work. Furthermore, if they attempt to drive anyway and get caught driving without a license, that is then considered a parole/probation violation, and they get hauled back to jail. This vicious cycle is made possible by the laws requiring drivers to be licensed by the state.

    As for the idea that there must be worse violations of freedom in Georgia, of course there are, but that’s no reason to ignore this one. Tyranny should be resisted wherever, and in whatever size and shape, that it is encountered.

  7. Robert Capozzi

    cd: Government has done nothing to improve road engineering, signal technology, traffic management, and especially nothing to improve driver licensing, training, or education.

    me: Sorry, but I LOLed at this sentence. Within 5 miles of me, there is a cobblestone road built in the 19th, possibly 18th, century. There are also several superhighways recently redesigned. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is “improve.” Me, I’d say the superhighway is an improvement.

    A 12 year old may think he or she can drive a car on public roads as well as the average adult. The signal — in the form of licensing — that the 12 year old should not drive is something I support. Ditto for the blind and otherwise physically incapable.

    I find this inquiry distracting at best. When we get down to assessing whether Nozick, Rothbard or Konkin had the optimal model, perhaps this sort of thing becomes salient.

  8. Hmmm ...

    As RC suggests, it is certainly true that road and highway engineering, design and construction overall have improved over the decades.

    There is a problem that where and how many roads and highways we build are political decisions instead of market decisions. As a result we have far too many roads and highways in the US, and not enough of the alternative forms of transportation that a free market would create, as well as urban, suburban and rural development and design that would both reduce and eliminate the need for a large percentage of transportation and energy usage overall.

    It is also likely that in a libertarian world with private streets and roads there would be some kind of private testing and certification that the private road owners would rely upon so as to restrict access to those qualified and capable of driving safely.

    This is not a major issue in any case, but it makes libertarians look a bit wacky to eliminate a testing system for driving when a libertarian world would create one of its own, albeit a private one.

    It would be much better to start an educational campaign taking on the issue of privatizing the transportation and energy markets piece by piece until the government is completely out.

  9. Joe Keg

    cd: Government has done nothing to improve road engineering, signal technology, traffic management, and especially nothing to improve driver licensing, training, or education.

    rc: Sorry, but I LOLed at this sentence. Within 5 miles of me, there is a cobblestone road built in the 19th, possibly 18th, century. There are also several superhighways recently redesigned. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is “improve.” Me, I’d say the superhighway is an improvement.

    jk: So, if government had not taken over operating roads, you think they would still be like they were in the 18th century? Has that been the case with industries that have been more privatized during that time?

  10. Robert Capozzi

    jk12, no. Vanderbilt built a private, restricted access toll road in 1908, it was way ahead of government-road technology. Autos were a rare thing then. Nevertheless, I cannot possibly know what the world of roads would be like if they always were private, though I suspect I’d find them better. (You seem to imply, however, that roads were always private, and I’m pretty sure that’s utterly false. If not, school me.)

    But, consider rereading this interchange. CD says “Government had done nothing to improve road engineering….” That’s absurd, ADR. My point was way narrower than you seem to imply.

  11. Fun K. Chicken

    Additional good references in wikipedia articles on free market roads, private roads and private highways.

  12. Porn Again Christian

    This one is somewhat of a tangent on the subject of government involvement in controlling, regulating, administering and contracting roads, but it ties it in to a bigger picture:

    http://www.amconmag.com/blog/libertarian-left/

    An excellent article that everyone really should take a few minutes to read if at all possible.

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  14. paulie Post author

    Why did testing begin in Georgia in the 1950?s? Was there a sense in Georgia at that time that there were too many people on the road who didn’t know how to drive, thus creating unsafe conditions which create a very real possibility of infringing on _my_ personal liberty by injuring or killing me?

    As with so many other things, I don’t think monopoly government has done a good job addressing this valid concern.

  15. paulie Post author

    There is a problem that where and how many roads and highways we build are political decisions instead of market decisions. As a result we have far too many roads and highways in the US, and not enough of the alternative forms of transportation that a free market would create, as well as urban, suburban and rural development and design that would both reduce and eliminate the need for a large percentage of transportation and energy usage overall.

    It is also likely that in a libertarian world with private streets and roads there would be some kind of private testing and certification that the private road owners would rely upon so as to restrict access to those qualified and capable of driving safely.

    Excellent point. Michael H. Wilson has frequently made related points about urban transportation regulations.

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