If you are among those who regret that the passenger train is rapidly becoming extinct in this country, let me put these questions to you:

Do you know that others who share your view have organized themselves into a group called the National Association of Railroad Passengers?

Do you know that the NARP is headquartered at 417 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003? Its telephone number is 546-1550.

Do you know that NARP's membership dues are $15 a year and that the young and old (under 21, over 65) pay half price? Do you know that your dues help NARP protest further cuts in passenger train service?

Do you know that NARP publishes a fighting newsletter that appears 11 times each year? NARP News helps highlight issues in words like these:

"On the day Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger announced that banning Sunday gasoline sales was under consideration, Transportation Secretary Brock Adams took a Metroliner to New York's Pennsylvania Station to propose what The Washington Post accurately labeled the dismembering of Amtrak."

When it was announced a few days ago that the Iranian upheaval had left us seriously short of pertroleum products and that gasoline would cost more because of its scarcity, WTOP sent a newsman out to obtain comments from motorists. One driver told the newsman that the oil shortage was a fairy tale concocted by the big oil companies -- a fraud upon the public whose sole purpose was to give the oil companies another chance to cheat consumers. ("Chear" is my word. He used a stronger one.) If less oil was really coming in from Iran, the man said, gasoline prices ought to be going down, not up.

Taken aback by the man's views, the newsman asked for clarification. The man explained that if we are using less high-priced foreign oil, we can make up the difference by using more low-priced domestic oil. Prices should therefore be coming down instead of going up.

Very obviously, some people still haven't gotten the message that this country can no longer come close to supplying its own needs -- and high officials in the Carter administration appear to be among them. Otherwise how could they propose killing off energy-efficient mass transportation of any kind at a time when supplies of foreign oil are uncertain?


I'm afraid I referred to the House of Representatives as the "lower house of Congress" in a recent column. Harry Louis Selden had this comment:

"I'll give you ten bucks if you will confront a member of the House of Representatives (say one from Texas) and tell him he sits in the 'lower' house of Congress.

"You can use the ten to buy a (small) piece of steak to put on your eye while you use the other one to search the Constitution or the journals of the Convention, or anything else, for justification to apply a hierarchical ranking to the two elements of the legislature. When reference is unavoidable, each speaks of 'the other house.'''

I must decline to take your dare, Harry. You are right, I was wrong, and I'd much rather apply the steak internally than externally.


Throughout the metropolitan area, the trend is toward more restrictions on smoking.

Some nonsmokers merely dislike breathing in the smoke of others; some are made quite ill by smoke. They cannot tolerate it.

The new laws limiting smoking in elevators, stores, doctors' offices and other public places, are supposed to be a boon to nonsmokers. Unfortunately, they are not.

Laws restricting smoking are almost worthless. People continue to smoke wherever and whenever they please, and enforcement is virtually nonexistent.

In a large and well ventilated room, I can endure great amounts of another person's smoke in silence. But when I find myself in a telephone booth just vacated by a smoker, or in an elevator engulfed in smoke, I yearn for the courage to punch somebody in the nose. What's the point of passing more laws when we have a whole category of laws that haven't been used yet?


"No two snowflakes are alike," comments Bob Orben, "and the White House has the same problem with policy statements."