The right of freemen to travel should be an easy one. (Setting aside the current state of affairs where a man can serve his jail sentence, and be “freed” yet is not free to travel, vote, earn a living through his speech, or defend himself.) Most free Americans had the right to move freely within the country by any conveyance they could obtain, at the inception of the United States. Some historic exceptions are correctly seen as wrong, like the Kentucky restrictions on travel for free blacks, no matter how they were traveling.
One limit seen as perfectly acceptable by most everybody is the 1913 New Jersey requirement that all motor vehicle operators within the State have a driver’s license, and submit to testing for the privilege. The excuse was public safety and the modern defense of this fabricated police power is that ‘while we might have the right to travel where we like, we do not have the right to get there in any conveyance of our choosing.’
Do not be fooled by terminology. Licenses are for people, not for objects. The operator’s permit in your pocket is a permission slip. Permission to use your own property on streets you paid for every time you filled up the fuel tank. The license plate on your car is more about the taxes you paid than about the vehicle itself. Today, just one century later, the right to travel alone, in a vehicle of your own, is considered a privilege. On the rare occasion when this status is questioned, the speaker is labeled insane. I ask you, which is easier to operate, an unlicensed team of horses or a licensed, registered, and otherwise excessively regulated automatic transmission automobile?
Look around you, do you think all of those horrible drivers are the unlicensed drivers or do the vast majority posses a government issued license?
In discussion with a libertarian lumenary, I got a strange response to this idea. He stated that since roads are generally not private in the US, that the road owners (the public) could impose a requirement on the users to demonstrate proficiency for operating on those roads. Which is curious to me, after the horse example above. It also screams out how wrong it is to have government roads in the first place.
It is a ridiculous standard for a ridiculous requirement. People do all sorts of unsafe things on those same roads without licenses, like walk out into traffic, ride bicycles in front of trucks or into pedestrians, ride horses, etc., etc., etc.