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You know the rest. Frankly, I’d rather stick a dull butter knife in my ear than hear that one again! 

It seem like everyone wants to help small business these days, doesn’t it? The President says he wants to help small business, then generally bashes business and leads an administration that is reigning down new regulations faster than you can say “bureaucrats.” E15, health care, styrene, fishing bans, access restrictions and on and on!

Two different committees on the House side want to help small businesses, too. They recently passed out bills to “ease the regulatory burden on small business.” Sounds great -- only problem is the bills are very different and it’s unlikely they will ever be reconciled into one, passed, and sent on to the Senate, where only God knows what would happen!

The Small Business Administration completed a study that shows small businesses, on average, pay 36 percent more than larger businesses to comply with federal regulations, or a cost estimated at $10,585 per employee. While it’s likely that figure is generally lower for marine dealers, it doesn’t include state and local regulatory costs that increase the cash sucked out of small marine dealers, marina operators and marine service firms. 

But, you know me -- I hate to be negative so I’m always looking for the good side of things. Or, if I can’t find good, at least humor. I love this one . . . a new regulation ends the Depression-era ban on banks paying interest on business checking accounts. Truth is, big companies, perhaps even some large marine dealers, have long gotten around this inane rule by using so-called “sweep” accounts. But now, some banks – Capital One, Wells Fargo, TD, Citigroup, Fifth-Third and Regions – will offer interest on business accounts. So, where’s the humor, you wondering? Well, at today’s rates, an account of $10,000 will rack up $3 to $8 a year! Gotta claim the good when you can these days!

I can’t find any good or humor in this regulatory calamity. The Federal Communications Commission has made an idiotic decision to allow high speed phone and internet service to use frequencies that could cause widespread interference with GPS receivers, including those used for safe navigation by our boating customers. The FCC has given conditional approval to a private firm (LightSquared, LLC) to build 40,000 ground stations transmitting high powered signals in the middle of the existing band of GPS satellite frequencies.

A report completed on June 30 identifies serious concerns for not only millions of boaters, but for others users of critical GPS functions that are now essential to aviation, public safety and activities of national security. In addition, last year the Coast Guard shut down the LORAN system leaving the nation’s boaters to rely solely on GPS for accurate positioning and safe navigation. Plus, the Coast Guard’s new Rescue 21 system with encoded position information from DSC-equipped marine radios, 406 EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons is totally dependant on accurate, uncompromised GPS signals. How does any regulator make a decision to risk all that?

Kudos to Margaret Podlich, vice president of government affairs at BoatUS, who hand delivered to the FCC a petition with more than 15,000 signatures calling for rescinding of the agency’s mindless approval for LightSquared. And, since we in boating are generally logical, reasonable thinkers, it seems safe for us to assume that with all the identified risks, and all the vocal opposition, the FCC would withdraw the approval. But, then, I remember our government, notably EPA in this case, thumbed its nose at logic and reason in the E15 debacle and moved forward anyway. Enough said?



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