So apparently GM is recalling 1.3 Million vehicles due to a problem with power steering. When the vehicles decelerate to a certain speed, power steering stops working. Given the difficulty to control a car without power steering, I would argue this is on par from a safety perspective with Toyota’s gas pedal/floor mat issue. I can’t help but notice a stark difference between the Beltway reaction to the two automakers’ travails. Perhaps it is just the cynic in me, but it seems like there was a concerted effort to play up Toyota’s problems and quickly throw together hearings to investigate. Democrats in Congress and the White House continued the drumbeat until it reached fever-pitch, ultimately resulting in the CEO of Toyota’s trip to America to testify before Congress. Where are the calls for all dangerous GM cars to be taken off the road? Where is Ray LaHood to tell GM drivers their cars are unsafe, stop driving? Perhaps the government is trying to tear Toyota down to help GM and Chrysler, once-venerable car companies reduced to wards of the state.
I’ll take it one step further – perhaps this is a direct result of Toyota’s dominance during the ill-conceived cash-for-clunkers program. We, like countless others across the country, used cash-for-clunkers to purchase our Toyota Yaris (thankfully we chose a model that has thus far escaped recall). It only made sense – why would we buy a GM or Chrysler when the fate of their company is questionable at best? So long as GM and Chrysler are dependent on the government, there will be no consumer confidence in their endeavors. Would you want to buy a car from the people that brought you Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs or any of the other horribly mismanaged government programs we’ve suffered? I certainly wouldn’t. We have seen how fickle this administration and this Congress are. Loyalty and vested interest might be there today, but that can quickly evaporate depending on the latest polls or the opinion of the most vocal leftist group. Not exactly instilling confidence in the product or the brand – especially since everything Obama touches turns to dust (Chicago Olympics, Copenhagen, Creigh Deeds, Jon Corzine, Martha Coakley, health care, etc.).
The problem with GM vehicles covers those manufactured between 2005 and 2010 (uh-oh, I already hear ‘Bush’s fault!’). Toyota’s recall dated back as far for one model, while most recalled were manufactured between 2008 and 2010. Legislators couldn’t get in front of the cameras fast enough to issue full-throated denunciations of the delays at Toyota in addressing the issue. One would expect to hear the denunciations of delayed action from the Washington elites regarding the GM matter as well. So far, I have heard nothing. I know that asking for parity in the treatment of these two issues is asking a lot, but it isn’t unreasonable. This is why government should not involve itself in the daily affairs of business, and the perfect example of the effect a public option would have on healthcare. Democrats disingenuously clamor for fake competition to bring costs down (while I welcome their acknowledgement of the efficacy of free market principles, I think they still have a lot to learn about business) by embracing the public option, but they fail to realize you cannot compete with the government. It is hard to compete on a level playing field with someone who owns the bully pulpit, has the infinite resources of the American taxpayer at their disposal (at least to the point Americans have enough and revolt) and writes the rules of the game. The disparate handling of these recalls is a perfect illustration of why we must fight the public option with every fiber of our being.