A group of people from all walks of life were asked a simple question, “All things being equal, what do you want?” I couldn’t help but think of this as I watched the events in Texas unfold this week. How about if the rain stopped? Perhaps a roof over one’s head? A hot meal and a dry set of clothes? Nothing crazy, just some basic things. When describing our wants we seem to overlook just what we have.
When you drive around these parts in south Florida there is a nautical presence everywhere. The self described Sailfish Capital of the US, has marinas and boatyards galore. In the St. Lucie River one could count hundreds of vessels from sailing prams to gigundo yachts. One particular emporium of the sea has no less than two dozen brand spanking new boats just waiting for their future skippers. The smallest coming in at $50,000 and ramping up to well over a million.
But this has nothing to do with cost but what I will call utilization of assets or lack thereof. We went down to the water one night and had a drink at a restaurant. Looking out over row after row of slips I wondered just how often these things got underway? A fella sat next to us at the bar and of of course you will be surprised to hear we struck up a conversation.
He had a 65’ power fishing boat nearby in Hobe Sound. He was a trauma surgeon from Miami so I surmised that money was not an issue. Sometimes he liked to fish and other days he just putzed around the Inland Waterway. I asked how many times he actually went out and he volunteered it was once or twice a month. After checking with others this might actually be high usage. So many of them just sat tied up, gathering dust and barnacles.
I did a little research and it turns out there are around 16 million pleasure craft in these United States with around 1 million in Florida alone. Quickly doing the math in my poor little brain, I came up with huge numbers for purchase and so many more for dock space and upkeep.It’s their money and they can do what they want but wow, does that seem like a lot of dough for a seldom used asset?
Recently I learned that we use our cars just 5% of the time. There are 265 million of them for our population of 320 million. There are 17 million new ones that roll off the assembly lines per annum. Say the average car is $20-30.0000 and multiply that and well I hope you catch my drift. New gizmos and soon to be self driving will only accelerate the cost and desire to have the latest and greatest.
We could look to stuff in our closets and garages that haven’t seen the light of day in a long time. We have 340 million TV’s for our populace. How many are on at once? Vacation homes are notoriously used just a few weeks or months out of the year. I am not by any means anti capitalist or anti consumption but does this seem to be a bit of a waste?
I ask this for a simple reason. Getting back to that focus group of individuals who were queried as to what they want? The answer by a resounding majority was,“MORE!” That is rich man and poor man alike. That is a startling but not exactly unexpected answer. We are consumers par excellence. Our economy is 75% based on this premise.
If we want more it means we always have a lack of something in our lives. Overall that unease is not a terribly comfortable feeling to go through the day. It is with you most of the time. We want to shop. We want to buy. We re constantly unfulfilled. The contrary is the Buddhist principle of living in the moment. Take what you have and just enjoy it. I think they have a point.
It’s Labor Day weekend. The end of summer and fall is on its way. It’s a beautiful time of the year and college and professional football teams will light up those many boob tubes. I will be right there with the rest of the world. Yet I do have one thought. If you asked people from all walks of life in Houston, Port Arthur, Beaumont, Lake Charles and Baton Rouge, what they would want most, do you think it would be more? Interesting how tragedy makes us stop and think. It shouldn’t take that. Have a nice holiday.
Ted The Great
The 50 inches of rain that has fallen in spots is equal to 65 feet of snow. (The blizzard of 2015 in the northeast had totals of 3-4 feet.) That is 25 trillion gallons of water came down. As an example New York City and its 9 million inhabitants use 365 billion gallons a year.
People have questioned whether Houston should have been evacuated prior or the storm. There is a population of over 4.5 million people. Imagine if they all hit the road and then got caught on the flooded highways when the rains came?
There are over 800,000 homes that were either destroyed or severely damaged. That would mean every home in the Denver metropolitan area would be uninhabitable for months if not years. Think cars, furniture, clothing, food et alia.
Word is that Hurricane Harvey will end up being the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. According to AccuWeather, the estimate for the full cost of the storm will approach $160 billion. To put this number in perspective, Harvey is expected to cost about the same as the combined costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.