The Corner

The Phobias of High-Speed-Rail Enthusiasts

There is an inescapable conclusion to be drawn from Wendell Cox’s excellent takedown of high-speed rail: Choo-choo supporters must be nuts.

Well, maybe they are.

Think about your relatives. Scratch a Democrat who like trains, and you usually find someone who’s nervous about driving and/or flying. The syndrome doesn’t necessarily mean they never fly or drive, but they do practice all sorts of avoidance maneuvers — preferring, for example, vacations via ship rather than air. They’re okay with short drives to the neighborhood market, but for longer ones they’ll take a bus or a train. They change their lifestyle, congregating in cities and suburbs with good mass-transit connections. This is the core constituency for high-speed rail.

A quick Google search indicates there are hundreds of commercial programs to try to get these people over their phobias. A study by the Opinion Research Corporation for Boeing found that up to one in three adults is anxious or fearful about flying. Twice as many women fear flying as men. Driving? The best study I could come up with was from New Zealand, which found that 17–20 percent of the elderly were mildly afraid of driving and 4–6 percent rated a moderate to severe level of driving anxiety and fear. Other studies show that a large proportion of people who have been in auto accidents develop a permanent fear of driving.

I’m not real happy with any of those studies, but they suggest that somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of the population are utter fruitcakes on the subject of transportation. Democratic strategists probably have the exact number; there’s no interest group too small for a strategic pander.

What I’d really like to see is a nice Rasmussen poll, with crosstabs, that would look at the prevalence of various phobias by party. If it’s as bad as I suspect, Republicans might want to consider a new approach to high-speed rail. Rather than kill it, they could offer amendments to redirect the funds toward mental-health programs.

 — Lou Dolinar is a retired columnist and reporter for Newsday.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More