August 6, 2009

What about clunker boats, then?

ONCE AGAIN our revered leaders in Washington are ignoring the wants and needs of the sailing fraternity. Congress is pleased to give away billions of dollars to automobile dealerships and their customers, but there is not a single penny coming the way of anyone who sails a clunker boat.

I won’t go into the obvious wrong inherent in the Cash for Clunkers deal — giving $4,500 of taxpayer money to the people who made the bad choice to buy large gas guzzlers, while dissing the people who made the good choice by buying economical smaller cars ­— instead I’ll concentrate solely on the inequity between car owners and boat owners.

While we all know that Congress is giving this money away in an attempt to look like good guys so they’ll get re-elected, the stated reason is to reduce pollution and so reduce the amount of greenhouse gases smothering our atmosphere.

Now I know any number of aging sailboats whose diesels spew smoke of many colors into the air, and at least some of those colors must contain pollutants. Old Wotisname’s engine, for example, belches clouds of white smoke at start-up. As the engine warms, the exhaust turns light blue, at least until he puts it in gear. Then, as he revs up, it turns black and coughs up swarthy blobs that make rainbows on the water.

There are also plenty of fishing boats and work boats whose engines are kept going with bubble gum and hairpins as their owners battle to make a living. I have no doubt that they would like to reduce the amount of soot that collects on their transoms, and contribute to a healthier world, but where is Congress when they need it? Who is going to give them $4,500 for their worn-out Universals and Yanmars?

I can’t help thinking that if we had a president who sailed, as the Kennedys did, things might be very different. Perhaps we should pass the hat around and buy him a Sunfish or something.

Today’s Thought
We stand today poised on the pinnacle of wealth and power, yet we live in a land of vanishing beauty, of increasing ugliness, of shrinking open space and of an overall environment that is diminished daily by pollution and noise and blight. This, in brief, is the quiet conservation crisis.
—Stewart L. Udall, US Secretary of the Interior, The Quiet Crisis, 1963

“Did you hear that little Willy swallowed some coins and had to go to the hospital?”
“Oh my goodness,no. How’s he doing?”
“The nurse says there’s no change yet.”

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