by David McElroy
When Vincent Ferrari woke up Thursday morning, his neighborhood in Rockland County, N.Y., was snowed in by about six or eight inches of snow. By halfway through the day, Village of Suffern snow plows were still nowhere to be seen, but what happened early in the afternoon is a great lesson in how people can co-operate — if they’re allowed to make their own plans and they don’t rely on government.
When nobody from the village showed up to clear the street, the neighbors did it themselves.
“Without government, who would plow the roads? Let me tell you who,” Ferrari said late Thursday afternoon. “My neighbor’s grandson and five of my neighbors.”
The neighbor’s grandson — a young man named Tommy — has a truck with a plow. The mayor of the village lives about a block from Ferrari, but she’s apparently on a trip to Florida this week. No plowing had been done in the 12,000-population village as far as Ferrari could tell, so by early afternoon, Tommy got to work clearing the street. Ferrari and five other neighbors went out with shovels and worked on the areas right around everyone’s driveways.
“He plowed and then we each dug each other out,” Ferrari said. “You know what that’s called? Voluntary co-operation. You know who hasn’t been down my street? A [government-owned] snow plow. Not a single one. We are the only street in the whole area that’s cleared because we did it rather than waiting for our savior elected officials.”
It wasn’t until even later than that — about 4:30 p.m. — that a plow from the village finally showed up. Ferrari said one of his neighbors complained about nothing having been done all day to the street. The plow driver pointed to the street that the neighbors had cleared themselves and claimed he had done it.
“I was here three hours ago, see?” the servant of the people lied.
The neighbor knew who actually plowed the street, and she told the guy so.
“No you didn’t, so don’t even try it,” she said.
Ferrari said the experience made him feel great.
“It was so uplifting,” he said. “It was everything anti-statists say in one microcosm. It made me smile so much on the inside.”
Even though Tommy didn’t to the work for money, Ferrari said he ended up paying him $100 in gratitude.
“So the next time you wonder who would deliver essential services if government didn’t, just remember that you have your own future in your own hands,” Ferrari said.
When I posted Ferrari’s story on my Facebook page Thursday afternoon, most people saw it as a great example of people voluntarily co-operating — as a symbol of what people could privately do if they were left to their own devices to decide how to plan their affairs. But one of my friends didn’t see it that way.
“Great…but what do you do when no one in the neighborhood has a truck or plow?” he said. “And who’s going to voluntarily plow the highways and local roads between cities?”
So how will people band together to do things on a level bigger than just one street of one neighborhood? Surely there couldn’t be ways that people could voluntarily co-0perate through the market, is there?
How will we possibly eat without government to supply us with food? How will we possibly have homes without government to build them for us? How will we possibly have methods of transportation to take us across the country on multi-million dollar jet planes without government to build and operate them?
Hey, maybe there will be grocery stores and homebuilders and airlines one day. You know. Voluntary arrangements between private citizens operating without government coercion.
Nah. That couldn’t work, could it?