There’s one more victim of the recession – although I doubt you will feel much sympathy. It’s the owners of a flotilla of abandoned boats who are giving them up because they can no longer afford them. The New York Times reports that the owners of these derelict vessels simply can’t bear the upkeep, even though the vessels are paid for in full.

The expense of berthing a boat, even a small to medium size one, can be hundreds of dollars a month. Add to that the yearly upkeep in terms of painting, engine maintenance, and miscellaneous repairs, and owning a boat becomes a high ticket item even in the best of times.

Few people are buying boats in today’s economy, so that eliminates a quick sale. So what to do with this money-gobbling monster? How about just abandoning it and letting the taxpayers pay to have it put somewhere else? Or punching a hole in the bottom and allowing it to sink somewhere, then collecting from the insurance companies? We also pay for this.

While various agencies pursue such scofflaws, they are understaffed and underfunded. Properly disposing of the boats, notes the Times, can cost thousands of dollars to do it properly. The paper tells to the story of Brian Lewis of Seattle, suffering from anxiety because he could not sell his boat. His solution: drill a large hole in the hull and allow the boat to sink in Puget Sound. His scheme was uncovered and Lewis now faces charges of insurance fraud and causing environmental damage.

There are scores of other criminal activities arising out of the recession woes. As more firms and individuals face bankruptcy court, we will be bombarded on the Internet with advertising, pop-up ads and welcome screens put there by frantic individuals trying to sell goods and services of questionable value. The web site Foreign Policy notes that more and more newspapers are looking to online advertising to keep their heads above water.

The unemployment crisis stands to get worse, not better. Foreign Policy further reports that older employees who planned to retire about now, are instead staying on. If their 401(k) retirement plans haven’t already gone up in smoke, an uncertain future will keep them chained to their desks for the indefinite future. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan speaks of “a pervasive sense of anxiety, as though everyone feels they’re on thin ice.”

Noonan’s article doesn’t end there. She cites FBI criminal background checks that show crime is up in double digits, 29% in February of this year. What President Obama’s true intentions are toward gun owners we aren’t sure, but there has been a gun-buying binge recent weeks. Many sporting goods stores report there are completely out of all popular calibers of handgun ammunition and most are not taking backorders.

A number of out-of-work Americans who still have a house and lawn are using that acreage to grow vegetables. Church attendance among most denominations is significantly up, as it was during the Great Depression. The Journal also reported more business for psychiatrists, while many of their existing patients are asking for increased doses of drugs to treat depression (the medical kind) and anxiety.

The walking wounded also include terminated employees who had to settle for a lesser job – one which will probably keep them permanently in the lower middle class for the rest of their lives. Dispossessed home owners not only have no place to set up housekeeping, they also had to leave furniture and other household possessions behind because they couldn’t afford to store them.

While we focus on the Bernie Madoffs and the AIG brass and their obscene, bloated bonuses, we neglect the bewildered man in the street because there are too many of them to focus on. Bring back the newsboy caps – we might as well look like those folks did in the 1930s.

CHASE HAMIL

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