Independent Institute Wins Seventh Sir Antony Fisher Award: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
April 25, 2008

Independent Institute Wins Seventh Sir Antony Fisher Award
Street Smart, Gabriel Roth’s Path-Breaking Book on Market-Based Roads, Praised as Rigorous, Superb, Highly Readable, and Intellectually Independent

Oakland, Calif., April 25, 2008—Today, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation has announced that the Independent Institute has won the 2008 Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award for the publication of Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads edited by Gabriel Roth. Martin Buerger, COO, is accepting the award at a dinner in Atlanta, GA tonight.

“We are most honored and privileged to have been selected to receive our seventh Sir Antony award,” said David Theroux, Founder and President of the Independent Institute. “Research Fellow Gabriel Roth has led a superb group of transportation scholars and policy experts in authoring Street Smart. Providing a systematic and inspiring vision for private, market-based road transportation for the 21st century, this authoritative book carefully demonstrates how to relieve traffic congestion, improve safety, reduce costs, improve maintenance, and sustainably expand road systems.”

Combining the work of engineers, economists, and traffic experts, Street Smart examines countries as diverse as the U.S., U.K., Argentina, Australia, Canada, Finland, and Singapore to show how market principles can usefully be applied to the provision of roads. It also includes specific suggestions for improving road systems in ten major urban areas domestically. Noting that the 1990s saw traffic congestion increase 700% over the growth rate of the U.S. Interstate Highway system, contributors expose road maintenance as a low priority to politicians. "The time has come to unleash the power of the private sector to deliver the innovation, cost savings, quality, and choice it has delivered in telecommunications and other industries,” says Mary Peters, now U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in the book’s Foreword.

The judging panel noted the exceptional merit of Street Smart in every respect, calling it, “excellent,” “rigorous,” “A+,” “comprehensive,” “impeccable,” and “highly readable.” Since its publication, Roth has been interviewed on radio stations across the country and the contributors have placed articles based on their findings in the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Just as we get our food, water, and other necessities from private suppliers,” said Roth, a former transportation economist for the World Bank, “the case for the private provision of roads is the easy one to make. Rather, it is the case for government provision that needs to be made by those who favor the status quo.”

Praise from the judging panel included:

  • "It is excellent and extremely comprehensive, clearly the best book in its area. Very, very good in every way.”
  • “It addresses very topical issues where there is high public interest but low levels of economic literacy among the public on the subject. The public debate is very much driven by emotion rather than rational thought and this book brings rationality to its respective subjects.”
  • “The intellectual independence of the author is apparent throughout the work and clearly does not originate from any political party ideology or practice, in fact quite the reverse.”
  • “It has a writing style that allows it to have high readability for the general public even though the subjects can hardly be described as sexy. In addition I liked the literary accuracy and the economy of words, so in my view it is very appropriate for academic audiences as well.”
  • “From page one, the evidence of excellent research is present and as one reads through the text it is also clear that the findings are based on the research, not on any preconceived perceptions. The economic theory is valid, well-tested, and rigorously applied.”
  • “. . . it addresses issues that are increasingly central to quality of life and happiness, considerations in most of the world’s societies so, there is certainly a relevance outside of the United States of America.”
  • “This is a major anthology dedicated to the idea of private roads, one of the most important applications of free market principles. It does a superb job of advancing the public understanding of these principles, through ample illustrations. The fact that everyone is familiar with the problems associated with public funding of highways in particular, and roads in general makes it easier for people to appreciate the arguments presented in these articles.”
  • “The style of the contributions to this volume is highly readable. And despite the plethora of documentation, it is beautifully simplified and graphically clear.”
  • “The research is impeccable and of the highest standard.”
  • “The stellar list of contributors to this volume includes professors as well as experts from Sweden, Germany, and Singapore. No one may be accused of wishing to personally profit from the privatization of roads. No political partisanship creeps into the content.”
  • “The publication should definitely stimulate additional interest in this very important subject. The volume deserves the widest possible circulation.”
  • “The principles are stated clearly at the outset in an excellent introductory chapter. The author does not use a verbal sledgehammer to make key points, but instead raises critical questions and asks for an opportunity to present related analyses. A soft sell indeed. The principles are then explained cogently and illustrated throughout. Strong positive on this score.”
  • “Rigorous enough for university undergraduate and graduate education uses. This is definitely a collection of scholarly works, but accessible to the ‘highly informed’ layman. An A+ on this element.”
  • “Strongly stimulative of application and interest.”
  • “Theoretical models are contained throughout the piece, and presented in standard ways by professional economists. The research is unusually thorough for this sort of publication. Uncompromised. A strong A+ here.”

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