Air Travel, Train Travel, and Republican “Freedom”
Many people have, for good reason, taken their knocks at syndicated columnist William F. George’s ludicrous column about trains, with particular emphasis on the substantial amount of government subsidies that facilitate “individualistic” car travel. In addition, I’d note that the flying experience is a good example of Republican “freedom.” For some distances flying is of course necessary and useful, although a good high-speed train network would reduce the number of routes that make flying more practical. For the ordinary person, however, flying is a miserable experience — more waiting in line than a Soviet supermarket during a recession, the potentially humiliating security theater, and incredibly cramped and uncomfortable travel. But — and here’s the rub — people as affluent as Will can buy their way out of the worst aspects of flying, with separate security lines, private lounges, and first-class seating. With trains, on the other hand, the experience for the ordinary person is infinitely superior but the affluent can obtain an only marginally better experience. So you can see why Will hates it. The fact that trains might represent more meaningful freedom for you isn’t his problem.