Bass Boats and Personal Priorities

By Bill Moore

Posted: 30 Apr 2011

My wife and I drove over to our local Cabelas this week. They had my favorite Teva sandals on sale and my old pair were in serious need of replacement. They're splattered with paint and the soles are cracked through.

Now if you're familiar with stores like Cabelas and Bass Pro Shop, its nearest competitor, as you walk into the store, you usually pass their exhibit of recreational fishing boats and trailers, all covered in protective tarps this time of year. The Omaha store isn't any different. What isn't covered, however, is the price of each boat; and to be honest, we were both taken aback by prices in the mid to upper $30,000 range. It was my wife who commented about people's sense of priority. It seems a fair number of us are quite willing to lay out $40 grand by the time you include sales tax for a piece of recreational equipment that we may use a few times a year, but ask us about why we won't buy a hybrid car and chances are we'll hypocritically reply they're too expensive.

To be honest, America, I not just disappointed with you. I am pissed off!

As a country, we will spend -- as we did in 2008 -- $9.5 billion on new recreational boats like those lined up in front of Cabelas, boats that burn exorbitant amounts of petroleum while toxically polluting the very lakes, rivers, bays and oceans we so dearly enjoy, then turn around a say we can't afford to drive cars that use less fuel and pollute less.

Look at the latest J.D. Power's report as cited by CNN Money.

"Despite all the hype around electric and hybrid cars -- and a rapid increase in the number of available models -- most car shoppers still aren't ready to buy, according to a new survey.

When it comes to hybrid cars, the problem is simple... price. Car shoppers want to do their part to help the environment, as long as their part doesn't involve paying more. Or, in the case of plug-in cars, changing their driving habits.

"The bottom line is that most consumers want to be green, but not if there is a significant personal cost to them."

"Not if there is a significant personal cost to them?"

What a wagon-load of horseshi... shoes, America! Here in Papillion, we just buried yesterday a 21-year soldier who died in Afghanistan earlier this month. The community turned out in droves, lining Washington Street, waving flags in salute to a young man who attended the same schools my kids went to; to be buried in the same cemetery where my son now rests. Last week, across the river in Iowa, they buried three more like him, killed in the same senseless conflict, the roots of which lie in our insatiable need for imported oil from the troubled Middle East. This decade it's Iraq and Afghanistan; will it be Nigeria and Venezula in the next?

Personal cost? How do you define that? Are we all ExxonMobil shareholders, enjoying dividends from yet another quarter of record profits as gasoline prices surge towards $4 a gallon and the economy hemorrhages as we run up the national credit card debt on imported oil?

America, I am sick of your hypocrisy, callousness and apathy! We can't buy a hybrid, much less a Leaf or a Volt, because they would require some sort of "sacrifice" on our part, but we sure as hell can find the money for motorcycles, motorhomes and motorboats.

According to boating industry estimates, Americans bought 200,000 recreational boats in 2008 and probably the same number in 2009 and 2010 for an average price per boat of $47,500. Think about that. 200,000 gas-guzzling, pollution spewing TOYS, each costing more than the Volt. And some of those boats are so large, they necessitate ever bigger vehicles to haul them around, like the big four door pickup parked outside Cabelas with a $36,000 bass boat hitched to it.

Oh yeah, we'll happily find a way to plunk down a deposit and take out a second mortgage for a shiny new bass boat, but not on the very vehicles we use day-in and day-out. I don't mean to rain on your parade. We all need a way to relax and get away from it all from time to time, but the next time J.D. Powers or someone else publishes some silly ass survey about Americans, or Aussies or Andalusians complaining about the high cost of hybrids, ask yourself, what are their priorities? Then look yourself in the mirror ask yourself the same question. What are your priorities?

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