jueves, 23 de abril de 2009

Innovación (imposible así) en las carreteras

El artículo está publicado en el Ludwig Von Mises Institute, su autor es Walter Block y la discusión versa sobre cómo las carreteras construidas y administradas por el estado (como monopolio que es) fallan en suministrar a los usuarios, a los clientes, que son los conductores que circulan por ellas, lo mínimo que todo producto debe proveer: seguridad. No hay pues, según Walter Block, esperanza de mejor producto ni mucho menos de innovación mientras continúe el sistema bajo tal patrón

El argumento surge e intenta dar respuesta a la consecuencia más terrible que cabe imaginar: la muerte en choques y volcamientos de tránsito por cuenta de conductores que conducen sus carros ellos, ebrios, drogados, con el vehículo en pésimas condiciones, etc. El Jobs-To-Be-Done que toda madre o padre quisiera ver cumplido para con sus hijos: que jamás el conducir su automóvil por la vía fuera la trampa mortal que para tantos hoy todavía es (y el autor vive en USA)

Extracto 1, la situación:

"Open Letter to Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Although I shall be criticizing you, even severely, please do not take this amiss. I mean your organization no harm. Quite the contrary. My two children, in their early twenties, are both new drivers. I would suffer more than I can tell you if anything were to happen to them as a result of drunken driving. I am thus a supporter of yours. I am on your side. Please take what I say as no more than friendly amendments to your plans and proposals. Some of the following critiques may sound harsh, but friends do not mince words with each other in life-and-death situations, and I would like you to consider me a friend of yours. We may disagree on means but certainly not on ends..."

Extracto 2, el problema bien determinado:

"First, you must expand your scope of operations. While drunk driving is of course a major calamity on our nation's roads, it is far from the only one. There are quite a few others, even besides the "big three" of speed, weather conditions, and driver error.[1] What difference does it really make if our children and loved ones die in a traffic fatality emanating from drunkenness or any of these other conditions? Happily there is no need to change even the MADD name if you adopt this suggestion. Only instead of the first "D" standing for "drunk" it could refer to "death," as in Mothers Against Death Drivers. All of these things — alcohol, drugs, speeding, malfunctioning vehicles, badly engineered roads, weather conditions, whatever — are threats to our families' lives. Why single out any one of them?..."

Extracto 3, la propuesta de solución:


My second suggestion is far more radical. Please hear me out. There are very important matters at stake. True, the highway fatality rates have been declining in recent years.[3] But 41,480, the number of people who perished as a result of improper automobile use in 1998, for example, is still far too high. Desperate circumstances require radical solutions.

The radical suggestion I offer is that MADD adopt as one of its major policy planks the proposal that our nation's roadways be privatized. And this includes not only the federal interstate highway system but every byway, country road, city street, and even sidewalk — wherever vehicle-related deaths have occurred. Why? There are several reasons..."

Extracto 4, ¿Por qué lo dicho en 3.?

"First, it is not at all true that speed, alcohol, drugs, etc., are ultimately responsible for vehicular death. Rather, they are only the proximate causes. The underlying explanation is that the managers of the roads, those in charge of them, have failed to deal with these problems. The reason Chrysler went broke is only indirectly related to car size, changing styles, competition, imports, the price of oil and gas, etc. This company was bankrupted because its managers failed to meet these challenges. When a restaurant shuts down, it is not due to such proximate causes as poorly cooked food, poor service, bad location, unclean premises, etc. Rather, this circumstance is due to the fact that the owners, operators, managers of the restaurant failed to address these problems.

Second, with a system of private highways and streets, the various owners would compete with one another to provide service for their customers (including, preeminently, safety). Those who failed (e.g., pursued policies detrimental to the "health of children and other living things") would be forced either to change the error of their ways or go belly up. Those who saved lives by better dealing with drunkards, speeders, etc., would earn profits and thus be enabled to expand the base of their operations.

Third, this is precisely the system — privatization — that vastly outstripped that of the U.S.S.R. in providing computers, cars, clothes, and a plethora of other products and services. Yet, instead of borrowing a leaf from our own success and applying it to highways, we have instead copied the discredited Soviet economic system and applied it to our network of roadways. That is, our highway network is governmentally owned and managed. This is why people die like flies on these roads and suffer from traffic congestion serious enough to try the patience of a saint (which also exacerbates casualties through road rage)."

Extracto 5, ¿Por qué 3. una verdadera solución a la muerte en carretera?

"Fourth, the rules of the road that would minimize automobile accidents (this goes for most other valuable economic recipes) do not come to us from on high, imprinted on stone tablets. Rather, they have to be learned, ofttimes by hard and difficult experience. The time-honored and traditional capitalist way of learning is by allowing all entrepreneurs, willing to risk their own money, free rein to do exactly as they please. The ones who hit upon the best way of proceeding earn profits; those who do not either have to copy the successful or fall by the wayside. It is precisely this, the magic of the marketplace, that has brought us our world-class standard of living. But this learning process cannot possibly take place when politicians, bureaucrats, and other members of the nomenklatura class determine the rules of the road, and do not lose an iota of their personal fortunes when they err in this way, or, indeed, are guilty of any other sort of highway mismanagement.

We all deplore highway casualties. But at least when they occur, let us have a system wherein someone in authority loses money thereby. There is nothing that concentrates the managerial mind more. At present, when deaths take place, there is no one in a position to ameliorate matters who suffers financially. Surely we may expect better results from a system that monetarily rewards the successful and punishes those who fail than from one that does neither..."

Extracto 6, un ejemplo:

"Take a case in point. It is perhaps a truism that "speed kills." Yet the rate of fatalities has decreased after the elimination of the 55 mph speed limit. Some analysts have suggested that it is not the average rate of travel that is determinative but rather the variance in speed. That is, we might all be safer with a slow-lane speed requirement (both minimum and maximum) of 60 mph, a middle lane of 70 mph, and a fast lane of 80 mph than with the present minimum of 40 mph and maximum of 70, typical of many highways. I don't know the answer to this question. But I do know the best way to answer it: unleash a new breed of road entrepreneurs on it. Allow each of them to address this issue as they wish. Then, using the same system we as a society have utilized to improve the quality of cars, computers, and clothes, among other things, we shall find the answer..."

Extracto 7, otro ejemplo:

"Take another example, closer to the concerns of MADD. How best to stop drunk driving? Heavier penalties? More emphasis on driver education? More police monitoring? Rewards for exemplary driving? Payment for joining Alcoholics Anonymous? Again, the same principles apply. Privatize the avenues of vehicular transportation, and rely upon the new owners — under the tutelage of the free-enterprise, profit-and-loss system — to find solutions.

One of this new breed of highway proprietors, of course, would be MADD. Under such a system, a revitalized and reinvigorated MADD, as an organization, would be able to implement its own policies on drinking while driving, speeding, whatever. It would have to take its chances in competition with all other entrants into this industry, but that is the way of the market system..."

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