Repo men reaping the benefits of consumer excess


While the sagging finances of cash-strapped Americans have left a lot of people unhappy, you'll be happy to know that repo men are doing quite well.

According to the New York Times, the yuppification -- I mean upward mobility -- of the early 2000s led a lot of people to buy boats they couldn't really afford. Now that the fantasy world of ever-rising real estate prices is over and homes no longer serve as ATMs, many boat loans are in default. And that's where retired Army detective Jeff Henderson comes in. He'll track down the boat and repossess it in the middle of the night if necessary. He says business has never been better.

Perhaps this would be a great line of work for recently unemployed subprime mortgage brokers. They earned huge commissions lending people money they couldn't afford to repay and it seems only fitting that they should profit on the way down as well.

But bad lending standards and practices aside, stories about the rise in boat repossessions provide a very unflattering image of the economic troubles facing many Americans: people were incredibly stupid and greedy, overextending themselves to keep up with their neighbors' conspicuous consumption. Let's face it: if you take a loan to buy a boat, there's a really good chance you're an idiot.

I wonder how many of these boat owners would benefit at the expense of more responsible taxpayers from the housing bill that the Senate recently proposed.