Toyota’s Pinto Memo Moment, Pt 3 – The Government Meddling In The Market… For It’s Own Advantage!

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Instapundit has a link showing how the Government take-over of General Motors has affected the way Washington has gone after Toyota.

I have more evidence of that:

“I would like to know how it could take us 6 years, dozens of lives, numerous lawsuits, substantial consumer complaints, mat replacements and repeated expressions of concern by an insurance company before any real action was taken to initiate an investigation into the safety of a product being used by millions of American families,” Sen. John D Rockerfeller, chairman of the Senate Transportation subcommittee said. “Simply put – the American people deserve better.

The Guvment continues to pile on!

“We’ve seen claims in the last month that they didn’t know how severe these problems were until this year, and now you’re working around the clock to find out what’s wrong,” said Rep. Harry Teague, a New Mexico Democrat. “That’s rubbish. You knew you had a problem a long time ago. You lobbied to limit the recalls. This committee’s staff has uncovered memos going back to 2004 where you knew you had a problem and you didn’t do anything about it.”

And then there’s….

Oh.

Wait.

These are doctored quotes are from a CNN article about the Ford / Firestone hearings ten years ago, altered to make a point. Politicians, no matter which party, will jump all over a situation like this to show they are concerned for our safety. And these are actually Republicans, not Democrats, who are up in arms, doing the standard regulatory hand-waiving. Here are the actual quotes:

“I would like to know how it could take us 10 years, dozens of lives, numerous lawsuits, substantial consumer complaints, tire replacements overseas and repeated expressions of concern by an insurance company before any action was taken to initiate an investigation into the safety of a product being used by millions of American families,” Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Transportation subcommittee said. “Simply put – the American people deserve better.

“We’ve seen claims in the last month that they didn’t know until July of this year, and now you’re working around the clock to find out what’s wrong,” said Rep. Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican. “That’s rubbish. You knew you had a problem a long time ago. You had recalls in 18 countries. This committee’s staff has uncovered memos going back to 1997 where you knew you had a problem and you didn’t do anything about it.”

Being in power does funny things to people. Republicans were outraged that the NHTSA didn’t do its job:

“More than two years ago, one of our witnesses today from State Farm Insurance Company identified a suspicious and troubling trend in serious accidents involving the now-recalled tire, mostly when mounted on the Ford Explorer,” Rep. Tom Bliley, R-Va. said in opening statements. “Yet when State Farm on its own initiative took the virtually unprecedented step of bringing these claims to the attention of NHTSA, the federal government’s highway safety watch dog, that dog apparently was asleep.”

And now? For the Toyota situation? Republicans are apparently outraged that…. the NHTSA is doing their job!

Look, the Obama administration officials famously have opened their mouths when they should have stayed quiet. But aren’t they simply following in the stylistic footsteps of the guy sitting in the White House? This administration has been sliding downhill for months, and this recall, this show of concern for public safety, must look like a lifeline to finally generate some positive press. Is there a conflict of interest? Could the administration, in a backhanded way, be trying to help GM? Maybe. Can’t entirely rule it out. The problem is, that at this point, with the exception of a couple of Chevy products, GM doesn’t have much to offer this crowd. The disaffected Toyota customers, already conditioned to distrust domestic nameplates, are more likely to go to Honda or Nissan, or even Hyundai. If they do want to dip their toes in the domestic market, they are much more likely to gravitate to the waters over at Ford, which is sparkling like a lush Hawaiian canyon river pool just about now.  If we want to attach motives to these things, if we want to point out possible conflicts of interest. could we not say say that the Ford / Firestone recalls were the Republicans trying to destroy the unionized Ford in order to help non-union Toyota?

Oh, and one more thing. Glenn posted a comment by Chuck Allen, saying “NBC Nightly News last night led off with 11 straight minutes on the Toyota story. 11! Is this Toyota recall some great national emergency that I was not aware of? You would think they were trying to make a point rather than just report a story….”

The fact that MSNBC spent eleven minutes on this story is not news. Here is some video of Dateline NBC covering  the Ford / Firestone story. Not sure how long the actual newscast was.  Oh, and here is their “War Against Trucks“, with no recall involved.  And here is ABC news and their “War On Tires”. I’m being a bit sarcastic I know, but I wanted to drive home the fact that automobile defect stories generally get a lot of coverage in the national news, especially when the story is… well… national.

PS. Glenn has linked some of my blog posts to Instapundit, for which I’m eternally grateful. But I feel he’s wrong here to insinuate that the Obama administration is going after Toyota to gain a competitive advantage. They’re simply doing what government does…. regulate.

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