BARB'S STATE OF THE UNION
By Barb Hansen
[Barb Hansen is on vacation. This is her column for February 2007]
Thank you very much, Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow boaters.
Despite what you read in the media, the state of our favorite form of recreation -- boating -- has never been stronger.
For many Americans, for generations, boating has brought fulfillment that no other form of recreation can match.
For the newly married couple the search for and purchase of their first boat has symbolized a lifelong commitment to each other and to the institution of marriage.
Parents and children cruise, water-ski, fish, paddle and set sail together. Boating builds stronger families and stronger persons and makes our country stronger, too.
Young men and women grow into more responsible adults because of the responsibility that boating teaches.
For newly retired couples, boating is the vessel that helps them chart and sail to new horizons.
From Seattle to Sanibel and from Cape Hatteras to Half Moon Bay recreational boating reinforces the inherent dignity and the birth right of freedom of every person.
Madame Speaker, my administration will be proposing to the Congress of the United States a set of initiatives to address certain boating issues that have long been ignored and, until remedied, will be like a chalky substance on the fiberglass hull, corrosion on the hardware, and sun- and mold-streaked sections on the teak decks of the American way of life.
Our cause is just, and it continues.
We ask the Congress to join the administration in passing “Barb’s Better Boating Bill,” a set of three critical initiatives.
First, we ask lawmakers to support the heavenly cause of peace and quiet by pointing the nation’s finger of shame and blame on every boater who violates marina environmental etiquette.
We recommend penalties for those whose stereos and noisy generators continue to disrupt the fabric of our nation’s sleep patterns. Permit me to add, on a personal note, that if those inconsiderate people insist on playing their stereos after hours would they please, for goodness’ sake, at least play some Sergio Mendez & Brasil ‘66.
Secondly, we propose an urgent national program to help waterfront restaurants expand their menus so that they serve more than just hamburgers and fries. I don’t mean that they have to add crepe suzettes with fresh strawberries to the menu but would it kill them to offer a big, fresh salad?
Finally, I want the Congress to address the urgent issue of boater education. Next week my administration will ask the Congress to allocate the appropriate resources to each state, based on number of boat registrations, to initiate programs that once and for all time eradicate the disease of boat docking disasters. How long, oh how long must all those in the marina listen to the gut-wrenching sound of a moveable object -- a boat -- forcibly crunching into an immovable object -- a dock.
This program would provide a sizeable tax deduction for seeking a degree from an academic institution, including the highly-regarded liveaboard yacht school in North Fort Myers called the Florida Sailing & Cruising School. No, this is not an earmark.
From sea to shining sea boating has demonstrated its power to make our people better citizens and our country stronger. Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on.
My fellow Americans, this is the time to answer the plaintive call of our boat-loving countrymen to be able to get a good nights sleep in a popular marina, have better things to eat while boating, and to have the confidence and ability to back a big boat into a little slip anywhere, anytime.
Let no boater be left behind. God bless you and God bless America's boaters.