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THE YACHT AND RECREATIONAL BOATING INDUSTRY; A PATRON / ARTISAN RELATIONSHIP WORKING IN THE 21ST Century
We recently came across an interesting photo montage at a site called "WONDER WALL" depicting the mega yacht habits of the rich and famous. The mega yachts either owned or frequently chartered by such celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio (owner of TOPAZ), frequent charterers Jennifer Lopez, and Daniel Day Louis, yacht owners Johnny Deb and Tiger Woods were depicted through links to mega yachts sites. The yacht habits of the rich and famous may not be of much interest to the usual Joe Sixpack, and scio-economically the staff here is far closer to Joe Six Pack status than celebrity ( hell, we have to keep our real identities secret to avoid troubles with our pensions). However, as professional mariners we have a maritime perspective on anything that involves anything that floats. By definition a maritime perspective is much broader and deeper than the practical and direct considerations of Joe Sixpack, or the detached assumptions of the liberals and conservatives. We tend to look at things as pragmatically as Joe Six pack but looking more in depth; like all mariners we tend to be a bit conservative, not wanting to change things unless an alleged "improvement" is shown to actually work. That is after all how we stay alive in our line of work. But as a profession, historically we have suffered much from labor abuse at the hands of capitalists ship owners so we share with the left certain reservations about totally unregulated capitalism. In short our economic / political philosophy is simply that of the clear eyed sailor which has something in common with left, right, and center but belongs in none of those camps. Namazu, our star maritime analyst who just happens to be a 3,000 year old giant catfish and retired demigod has exactly our outlook but he refers to it as "the catfish perspective", So whether you call it the clear eyed sailor perspective, or the catfish perspective we suppose is dependent on how attached you are to your bipedal-ism . Professional mariners, low budget world travelers that we are, tend to be rather culturally open. When we travel we generally don't stay at high priced hotels and resorts and rub elbows much more closely with the locals. Frankly of late we have been dropping the "clear eyed sailor perspective label" and have begun to refer to our collective philosophy as the catfish perspective, which is actually more ancient, and "catchier".
So here from the Catfish Perspective is our analysis of celebrity involvement in mega yacht activities.
In a nut shell we're for it, we see it as a positive economic good, and a continuing contribution to national security through "sea power". To left we say, hold the envy just a second and think. The Father of Sea Power Alfred Thayer Mahan taught that the "sea power of a nation" wasn't just its standing navy, but its merchant marine, ports, shipyards, skilled maritime labor force, its total collective ability to make, man, and service ships. Now when you visit WONDER WALL to gawk at all the celebrities in their swim wear aboard their owned or chartered mega yachts try to apply the catfish perspective as informed by Alfred Thayer Mahan . Really look at those mega yachts often the size of large naval patrol boats or even destroyer escorts. They employ professional crews some of whom are actually licensed merchant marine deck and engineering officers, the owners have to buy engines and generators, radars, radios and other navigational electronics from the same vendors who supply our Navy and Coast Guard. These ships need maintenance and repair like any other providing employment in the "second tier ship yards" of many nations. In short the yachting and recreational boating industries help keep such vital national defense skills as navigation, ship handling, ship building and repair, vessel design etc. economically viable during times when the needs of national defense aren't sufficient to assure adequate employment levels.
To the envy of the left we concede that when you look at the linked pictorial we do not claim that the rich and famous are motivated or even aware of the contribution to national and collective maritime security that their discretionary entertainment dollars are making. We're quite ready to concede that mega yacht ownership and chartering is probably motivated out of self indulgence. To that we say, so what? We'd rather be at our drawing boards, wielding stations, bent over a diesel engine, or manning the helm connected to mega yachts and earning a real living wage than be on welfare. If the left were to confiscate the wealth of the vastly rich that is how they would redistribute it, the government dole with all of the hopelessness that implies. To the tight assed conservative right we warn, however, that this isn't an endorsement of "trickle down economics". The mega yacht industry and its contribution to Western sea power is not a trickle of wealth coming down from the super wealthy but a torrent; who cares if begins as a self indulgent expenditure. We're not endorsing the "greed is good school"but not every self indulgent act is bad. The collective self indulgent acts of the super rich relative to the ownership or chartering of super yachts has a much more powerful effect on both gainful employment and national security than that same amount of money dropped into the bottom;less pit of our mismanaged government's tax coffers would ever have.
We would hope that the super rich depicted in the linked presentation would begin to take some pride not just of ownership in these yachts as owners or charterers but take some interest and pride in their support of an industry made up of highly skilled decently paid professionals, technicians, craftsmen, and artisans. Some of the Hollywood elite who are among the biggest patrons of this industry also hold political views far to the left of the typical workers this industry. Some of the Hollywood elite might be shocked or dismayed at the thought that their yacht money actually supports something of defense utility. To them we point out that while the skills of yacht building may have direct utility to expanded warship building capacity, your money is not going to support capabilities in making land mines, guns, or ammunition. The day that yacht builders must be folded into a war shipping administration, as happened in WWII, it will be national survival that will be at stake, not some form of partisan politics driven military adventurism. So enjoy your yachting but take a little pride and interest in the industry. Be a patron of the nautical arts and crafts sciences and be proud of it. To the professionals, technicians, craftsmen, and artisans who make and maintain the yachts take a measureless pride in your work. Just because a capital stream started in your direction out of a self indulgent motive doesn't make the capital any less valued or effective. The art works of the great masters were mostly created in response to capital from the self indulgent rich of another era, that doesn't make these art works any less important. Be respectful and kind towards your customers, try and foster a patron/ artisan type relationship where ever and when ever possible. To the left, put a check on that envy. To the right don't try to compare an active and functional 21st century patron / artisan industrial relationship to"trickle down economics", the exchange of funds here is no trickle. To our irresponsible and and inept government in Washington, on both sides of the Aisle and in the White House; please leave this working economic arrangement alone.
THE BOATING SAFETY BOOKSHELF