Rocky Road: Gov't Bureaucrats Berate Rod Stewart For FIXING ROADS

P. Gardner Goldsmith | March 22, 2022
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This is a tale of a rock superstar who, like his neighbors, has had enough of the poorly-run government roads, and, like his ancestors in Scotland, has taken the rebellious, self-motivated initiative to fix them himself.

He’s Rod Stewart, who was knighted in 2016, and who appears to be doing heroic deeds for his neighbors, spending EXTRA cash and putting his 77-year-old back into handling something that the tax-thieving government says IT, alone, must maintain.

On March 11, Stewart posted an Instagram clip of himself and friends shoveling gravel and clay into enormous potholes along a dirt road in his hometown of Harlow, Essex.

Singing, and looking like he’s having a good ol’ time of it, “Rod-the-Bod,” as he has been called, mentioned that no one in the government could “be bothered to do it,” so he and his “mates” were, as Bachman Turner Overdrive might have said, “Takin’ Care of Business.”

He wrote on Instagram:



Working for a living, filling holes is good for the soul!

To which The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood (a former bandmate of Stewart in both the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces – a project that Wood and Stewart re-ignited last year to create new music) replied:

Bravo, Rod!

But some local officials weren’t quite as enthusiastic as Rod’s friends and neighbors.

In the tradition of the old feudal occupiers, Essex County Council Cabinet member Lee Scott shot a few words across Stewart’s proverbial bow, warning others who might also try to do what locals used to do in England, way, way, back in time.

You can't take matters into your own hands. People must always report potholes to the council and we will fix anything that's dangerous.

But Stewart’s sentiment has spread over the past week, and likely typifies that of many, not only in Essex County, but around the world, as they see the government force them to pay, see the agents of government claim said money-extraction is for the citizens’ own good, and then realize the whole set-up is a giant sham.

Said Rod, as quoted by the BBC:

People are bashing their cars up. The other day, there was an ambulance with a burst tyre. My Ferrari can't go through here at all.


Among their many covetous traits, the British governing classes seem to have a “thing” about roads.

Satirical author Douglas Adams spoofed the self-congratulatory stuffed-shirts in the opening of his classic, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy,” as the bureaucrats haughtily celebrated their eminent-domain seizure of the protagonist’s home to make way for a motorway bypass.

Local British farmers and peasants -- who had established privately-run, centuries-old access paths and roads permitting neighborly travel for sale of livestock and goods -- engaged in some of the first tax protests in that nation’s history as the Norman-sparked “enclosure movement” saw royal peers take over the lanes and mandate “maintenance fees” on the roads. That criminal takeover, by the way, was committed even as the royals grabbed private crop-acreage and shifted it to pastureland – a multi-generational offense that led to The Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, Jake Cade’s Rebellion of 1450, and even saw Thomas More criticize it in “Utopia,” published in 1516.

So, the obnoxious retort from government-boosters who bleat, “Who will build the roads?” when confronted with arguments against government-run byways is not only ahistorical, it’s downright ignorant of history even as it dismisses the multitudes who fought for their local traditions.

So, the question is not, “Who will build the roads?”

That’s a consequentialist question that assumes for others how their earnings should be spent, and to what amount. It assumes, first, that everyone desires or benefits from the roads that the winning political faction wants built (at high cost, and then, likely, poorly maintained), and assumes, second, that people can’t handle their own needs via voluntary association and commercial incentives.

If one reflexively holds onto the unicorn of “only government can build and maintain roads, because private industry just won’t do it” then how do shopping mall parking lots and entryways get built and why are they maintained better than public roads? What about private driveways? If people are just too daft and incapable of creating and handling the streets leading to their driveways, how about the government also build their drives and the steps leading to their front doors?

As Thomas Di Lorenzo has noted in his excellent book, “How Capitalism Saved America,” private industry and commercial incentives prompted vast networks of privately-made and maintained roads for decades in early America. That’s how Toll House Cookies started, when a couple created them along an old 18th Century toll road in Massachusetts.

Indeed, even as recently as 2014, a Bath-area Brit named Mike Watts made waves as he opened the first private UK toll road in a century, and in 2014 Matthew McCaffrey noted for the Mises Institute:

The basic story is as follows: after a local motorway was destroyed last February by a landslide, Watts and his wife put their life savings into building a small access road that allowed drivers to avoid a costly detour. The toll road was an instant success, and Watts started to recoup his money by charging £2 per vehicle. (Out of goodwill he also allowed many free riders to use the road, including to emergency vehicles.) However, his success quickly attracted the attention of local government, which immediately set about trying to undermine the venture.

They did. They shut him down. And all those who enjoyed what he provided were deprived of something they voluntarily showed they liked, even as the government deprived them of their money… in order to pay for shutting it all down.

It’s not about “Who will build the roads.”

It’s about ethics. It’s about mafia-like claims of power.

Practically, we can see that local people will handle the roads for the sake of local neighborliness and commerce. Ancient history, the Mike Watts story, and Rod Stewart show us that.

The real question of which this news about Sir Rod Stewart reminds us is:

“Who has the right to his own earnings and to decide for himself what he wants to do with them?”

If we hold onto that moral principle of leaving our neighbors to live and keep their earnings unmolested, the positive practical outcomes follow.

Peace begets prosperity.

But government -- even that which claims control over the simple matter of road-building -- is not peaceful. And Rod Stewart reminds us of the difference.

Related: Gov't Gravy Train: Biden Reverses Trump, Readies $929M More For CA 'High-Speed Rail' | MRCTV