Highway Heist: America's Crumbling Infrastructure and the Road Forward (Hardcover)

Highway Heist: America's Crumbling Infrastructure and the Road Forward By James T. Bennett Cover Image

Highway Heist: America's Crumbling Infrastructure and the Road Forward (Hardcover)


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In this eye-opening book, Professor James Bennett guides readers through centuries of one of the most underrated yet widely used aspects of American life—roads.

Relying on history and economic data—and with a humorous and oftentimes sharp tongue—Bennett explains how important America’s highways and byways have been to everything from policymaking to everyday life.

Crafting America’s roads took persuasion, planning—and more taxes than any politician could have dreamed of. And far too often their realization, thanks, in Bennett’s view, to flawed interpretations of the power of eminent domain, required destruction, sometimes on a massive scale, of long-established neighborhoods and important cityscapes.

Likewise, the upkeep of America’s highways has been the center of many a policy battle, waged by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Yes, we all want roads in good working condition—but just how and who will pay for them remain contentious questions.

Bennett argues persuasively that the road forward just might be a second, but more serious, sustained look at, and local experimentation with, private roads and toll roads.

Agree or disagree with him, Bennett has written a significant contribution to America’s ongoing debate about how her citizens should traverse, from “sea to shining sea,” its fruited plain. 

One of the nation’s foremost experts on the economics of government and bureaucracy, government spending, and labor unions, James T. Bennett holds the William P. Snavely Chair of Political Economy and Public Policy in the Department of Economics at George Mason University. A Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Dr. Bennett received his Ph.D. in economics from Case Western Reserve University.

Product Details ISBN: 9781598133448
ISBN-10: 1598133446
Publisher: Independent Institute
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English
“In Highway Heist, James Bennett provides vital, new, intellectual infrastructure for a timely and authoritative critique of pork barrels, potholes, and political privilege.”
George Gilder, bestselling author, Wealth and Poverty, Life After Google, Telecosm, Knowledge and Power, and other books

“James Bennett’s indispensable book Highway Heist critically examines the corruption, waste, and runaway costs of government transportation infrastructure.... Instead of such unnecessary problems from government monopolies, Highway Heist shows the viability of private, market-based, enterprising systems in directly serving transport needs, with real accountability, innovative benefits and enormous savings.”
Rand Paul, U.S. Senator; Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

“Whatever your views on highway construction, the remarkable and indispensable book Highway Heist will improve it.... This fascinating book could not be timelier as state Departments of Transportation throughout America, keeping social objectives in mind, start ramping up infrastructure spending with new Federal funds.”
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, U.S. Department of Transportation

“We now have a lively account of how the U.S. highway lobby came to be and what it delivered.... I cannot think of a better guide to U.S. transportation policy and politics than Highway Heist.”
Peter Gordon, Emeritus Professor of Public Policy, University of Southern California; co-editor, The Voluntary City: Choice, Community and Civil Society

“In the important book Highway Heist, we are treated to both a history lesson of how ‘infrastructure policy’ has evolved and the key question facing us as we look to the future: Can’t a nation of innovators agree upon a better way to build, maintain and pay for necessary internal improvements? Bennett raises all the appropriate questions.”
John M. Engler, former Governor of Michigan; former President and CEO, Business Roundtable

Highway Heist is a fascinating, brilliantly written political history of government-built infrastructure (roads, bridges, canals) since the founding of the republic.... Hope lies in growing public acceptance of express lanes, tolls, public-private partnerships, and private roads, along with opposition to eminent domain, massive government spending, and the idea that government must own, operate, and maintain highways.”
E. S. Savas, Presidential Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Privatization Research Organization, Baruch College, CUNY; co-author, Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships

Highway Heist takes us through two hundred-plus years of American history to the present, and we note that while the particulars of what is being debated have changed, the essential framework of the arguments for and against federal involvement in highway construction have remained the same.”
Bret D. Schundler, former Mayor, Jersey City, New Jersey; former New Jersey Commissioner of Education

Best Book Awards by American Book Fest named Highway Heist by James T. Bennet as the Winner of 2022 Best Book Awards in the Best Cover Design: Nonfiction category.

Best Book Awards by American Book Fest named Highway Heist as a finalist in the History: United States category.

Highway Heist was named a Finalist in the 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (NGIBA) in the Current Events category.

Highway Heist has won the 2023 Silver Award in the Political & Current Events category.