I know Washington has an austerity budget. I know that the following proposal does not strictly adhere to principles of fiscal responsibility, economic reality or … what’s that other word I’m thinking of?
However, none of this deters me from making this modest proposal: Every person in this state should, upon birth, be issued a boat.
Because nothing’s as much fun as messing about in a boat, that’s why. Because summer’s about to kick into high gear. Because we live in the Northwest and we are surrounded by outstanding reasons to have a boat, a few of which include Lake Roosevelt, Sprague Lake, Puget Sound, the Columbia River, Lake Washington, Hood Canal, the Spokane River and the Yakima River.
(I would also add Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Oreille and Priest Lake to that list, since I don’t want to be Washington-centric about this.)
As with all bold and visionary initiatives, there will be a few skeptics out there with questions:
A. How did you dream up this cockamamie idea?
B. How will you pay for it?
C. How can the state administer such a large and complicated program?
D. Dude, what the hell are you smoking?
Let me take these questions in order:
A. I was walking beside a marina, admiring the boats, when this thought process occurred: “Man, I’d sure like a boat. It’s a crime to live in the Northwest and not have a boat. Hey, wait. Maybe it should be an actual crime not to have a boat.”
B. We will pay for it with a one-time tax levy on Tim Eyman.
C. Implementing the program is not that difficult. Just send every baby home from the hospital with an approved car-seat and an approved boat.
D. I don’t smoke. But I am slightly mentally imbalanced, due to the fact that I live in the Northwest and still don’t have a boat.
Now, I am naturally assuming that our new boats-for-everyone initiative must be retroactive. Otherwise, we’d be faced for years with the ridiculous situation of having hundreds of thousands of boat-owning babies, yet you and I would still be boatless.
So we would have to launch the program by issuing a boat to every resident of the state. This will spawn many other tough questions, even from those who embrace the idea:
• Can I have a 2011 Sea Ray 350 Sundancer? (Answer: Yes.)
• Can I have a really beautiful wooden sailboat? (Answer: Of course.)
• Can I just have a nice little kayak? (Answer: Whatever floats your … you know.)
I won’t pretend this will be without complications.
We’ll have to build millions of new boats, not to mention new marinas and boat trailers. Yet that just means more jobs for our state.
As for safety issues, there will be some boating accidents, some altercations (especially when you consider that a lot of boats will be manned by babies). Yet I think fatalities will actually decrease, since there will be a lot more Washington residents out on the water to rescue people.
And finally, I want to address the issues of moorage and maintenance. Since the state issued the boat in the first place, some people will say the state should also be responsible for the ongoing costs of owning a boat.
Oh, come on. Be realistic. What do you think this is, the nanny state?