The Latest Scuttlebutt

The page one headline of one of the monthly periodicals we receive had it this way:

“Are folks tuning out the bad news?”

“Irony of ironies,” the story continues. “Could it be that bad economic news is actually helping to sell boats? The uptick in sales that began early this year still had legs in late spring despite disappointing job numbers, concerns about European solvency, the JP Morgan Chase derivatives mess – things that are ‘completely extraneous to the boating industry.’

“‘One moment things are crumbling, and then three hours later they’re fine, but then three hours later they’re crumbling again,’ said Hunt Marine president John Peterson.

“Whatever the case, industry leaders tell editors there is reason for optimism this season …”

“But ask John Peterson what it’s been like to handle bankruptcy proceedings as both president of one of the companies filing as well as chief restructuring officer and he doesn’t hesitate. He calls it the most ‘challenging endeavor anybody could ever undertake,'”- and naturally, he doesn’t look upon this development as any kind of an “uptick”.

Peterson’s companies – the quite sizable Luhrs Marine Group – consisting of Silverton Marine Corp., Mainship Corp., Hunter Marine Corp., and five additional subsidiaries – filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 on April 30th.

“‘When we went into Chapter 11 filing,’ Peterson said, ‘Hunter Marine was the only company operating. There was not a single person in the other eight entities.’

So where’s the “uptick”? If Luhrs is hurting, and was forced to dismiss the employees in “the other eight entities”, you can forget about reasons “for optimism this season” – or any other season for that matter. We’re talking here about the boating industry, mind you. The last thing a guy gives up – you may have heard – is his boat. The next to last thing, the story goes, would be his wife, so if boating enthusiasts are hurting, what does that say about the “recovery” economists keep touting?

Last week it was revealed by the U.S. Department of Labor that the nation’s economy was given a lift by the creation of 80,000 new jobs in May. Such a lift. Each and every month – you may have heard – approximately 120,000 youngsters attain working age, and if this monthly “lift” amounts to just 80,000 new (and probably fictitious) jobs, our leaders are just digging a deeper hole for us.

We need 80,000 new jobs not just every month – but every day of every month. We were in this pickle once before, and only revitalized shipyards created the millions of jobs required. So it isn’t just theory. We saw it happen. WWII Emergency Shipbuilding Programs brought an end to the Great Depression when nothing else worked. And nothing else will work today, either.