I like simple camping. Tent, compass, notebook, boots, and RPM (raisins, peanuts, M&Ms). On the trail, I hardly want to cook, let alone have a microwave and TV.
It thus gives me some grinchy pleasure to hear that RV sales are down nationwide about 25%. Duane Spader of Spader's RV Center near Sioux Falls tells AP he's taken an even harder hit, a 30% drop this year. I take that as a sign that more people are realizing they don't need 40 feet of fiberglass and AC to enjoy the great outdoors.
I note with some disdain that Spader appears to be getting some KELO time as part of what looks like a coordinated RV dealers campaign to publicize the impact of tight credit on RV sales. The National RV Dealers Association is trying to make the argument that banks receiving federal bailout money should "make consumer loans available for RVs on an equal basis with loans for automobiles, educational expenses, and purchases with credit cards."
Hold the phone, kids:
- Financing to buy an RV is not a "critical need."
- If you need a loan to finance your recreation, you're spending too much on recreation.
- If more banks are at least requiring buyers to make down payments on RVs, that's a good thing for consumer responsibility (see RVDA's Nov. 2008 dealer survey).
- If we have any federal money left to throw around, it should go not to finance extravagant consumer purchases for a minority who can afford loans beyond their home mortgage and auto loans, but to support building infrastructure that everyone—RVers, tenters, hikers and bikers alike—can use and enjoy. Fix the roads and bridges (WPA), build parks and trails (CCC).
Let's hope the recession helps refocus folks' priorities: When you go camping, a good tent beats a giant tin can on wheels. And when you fix your economy, jobs and public works are more valuable than consumer spending.