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OK, maybe the government is out to get you

By By Jonathan Sweet

Whenever we ask for your opinions in one of our reader surveys, there tends to be a theme that the government is out to get the boating industry. I’ve always been inclined to downplay that, thinking we’re all taking it a little personally – that the government’s out to get everybody.

Well maybe I was wrong after all …

As you’ve probably gathered from some of our recent blogs and social media posts, we’ve been taking a deep dive into the archives in preparation for a little look back in the June issue of Boating Industry.

One of my biggest surprises has been how often bizarre rules aimed straight at the boating industry seem to get proposed. Even as far back as the 1930s, there was a national motor boat tax passed, probably based on the assumption that hey, if you can afford a boat, then the Depression must not be hurting you that badly.

My favorite (if that’s the right word), for its sheer absurdity has to be the 1980 proposal by the Department of Energy to ban boating on the weekends to save energy. Maybe some of the veterans of the industry remember this, but it was a little before my time and I imagine many of yours. I’m sure my dad and grandpa were upset about it, but my biggest concerns at the time were getting my fair share of graham crackers in Mrs. Frehner’s kindergarten class at good old DeForest Elementary.

Throw in the more recent luxury tax of the 1990s that was of course already on my radar and countless other proposals over the years and does makes one start wondering.

After all, as Joseph Heller wrote, “Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”

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