In fact, this problem with electronic braking came about because of federal pressure through CAFE standards, forcing manufacturers to make lighter cars. As they often do, politicians point their fingers at Big Bad Business. Now a memo has come to light showing that Toyota cut a deal with its Washington regulators on the braking issue last year. As is often the case when politicians point fingers, at least three fingers are pointing right back at them.
A president who is the new owner/operator of GM yet who still aspires to rid the world of the combustion engine, Obama finds it easy to attack foreign-owned Toyota. The current administration must remember, however, that when U.S. Toyota sales decline, employees at Toyota plants all across the South lose their jobs.
The global economy has done more to tie the world together than any “Kumbaya” political rhetoric. However, politicians clearly do not understand economics, or they would not be making all the bad, long-term decisions for our country that they have of late.
I believe in the goodness of people and the free-markets to sort this mess out. Shared economic interest is a powerful motivator. What I do not believe in is the goodness of politicians to aid the process.
One of the commenters shows up to give the usual rejoinder to such arguments:
ya .although this is humor hart makes a point .For some reason we think that we have some right to buy a safe car.silly us.Profit is all that matters and saftey just gets in the way.And whats this cr@p about people thinking that the goverment is supposed to look after the countries wefare? It’s not like it’s in the constitution .
A “right to buy a safe car” is an airy formulation that sounds nice but isn’t very useful. It’s the government’s job to protect its citizens from threats, including unsafe products that are fraudulently sold as safe products, sure. Did Toyota falsify data, though? And does it represent an external threat to the Republic? Even companies with high quality standards can, in completely honest ways, run into problems. New technology always means the potential for glitches that don’t surface immediately. That’s not to let Toyota off the hook for its slow and haphazard response to its recent problems, but it is to say that perfect “safety” is never going to be achieved.
And it’s certainly not going to be achieved by the government that brought you such gems of undistorted candor as “jobs created or saved” and “you can keep your current plan.” Clear safety standards are a great goal, but the dense thicket of regulations that chokes enterprises in real life doesn’t necessarily meet it. In many industries, it’s hard to tell whether you’re even in compliance with the relevant regulations—sometimes different standards conflict, and you can’t meet one without violating another. (Lawyer friends tell me that’s especially true in environmental law.) And in any case, the more power Washington claims over business, the more incentive business has to lobby for special treatment that works to its own benefit while punishing competitors.
If politicians righteously refused to play that game, they might have the ethical high ground from which to sermonize. But they don’t, and they don’t. And they’re not helped toward greater self-awareness by big-government supporters, who naturally treat the “profit” motive as venal and exploitative without considering that the “power-trip on using state coercion” motive may not necessarily be any less so.