Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big boats, little boats

So David Geffen's yacht is nearly twice the size of Saddam Hussein's? My word. And him a Democrat. He'll really feel the repeal of the tax cuts. Might have to fire a couple of deckhands or stewards. But they will surely be all right. The Democrats are looking out for them, just as in 1990. Remember the tax bill that the first President Bush signed, the one that got him in such trouble for not remembering his own lip-reading remark? Passed by a Democratic congress: House vote, Senate vote. Including the luxury tax on boats costing over $100,000, which led to this:

According to a recent The Wall Street Journal editorial, the Labor Department estimates that in Florida, the nation's leading boat building state, builders laid off 5,000 out of 18,000 laborers by the end of 1990 and these layoffs are not isolated. Retailers, manufacturers, and services aligned to the boating industry are simultaneously affected. To provide even the slightest justification for these job losses, the government should at least be realizing substantial revenue gains. Nevertheless, according to the same editorial, the Joint Committee of Taxation has released collection estimates of which only $3 million were attributable to boats in 1991. Where is the justification?
This brings to mind Barack Obama's remark last night to the effect that the capital gains tax should be raised "for purposes of fairness," without regard to raising revenue. (Full debate transcript here.) The Law of Unintended Consequences will not be flouted.

In other boating news,
A ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court in California could snare boaters in a bureaucratic net of permits and regulations if a consequent court-ordered deadline is not thrown overboard.

… as of Sept. 30, recreational boaters will no longer be exempt from greywater discharges, including normal discharge from marine engines, laundry, shower and galley sink wastes, or any other discharge incidental to the normal operation of a vessel.

Because the court's decision is not limited to vessels with ballast water tanks, the court order could impact motor boats, sailboats, dinghies, kayaks and even canoes.…

Under current regulations, the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) requires that all sea going vessels be registered with the state. That means canoes, kayaks, dinghies and paddleboat owners would all be required to obtain an EPA permit.

Paperwork bonanza on the way.

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