Toybota!


Much like Jeremy Clarkson’s attempt to make a Toyota Hilux (Tacoma) into an amphibious vehicle, Toyota is now finding themselves overturned in the water. Of course it’s understandable; we are incompletely new territory, as there has never been a safety-related recall in the history of automobiles.

But as always, it is important to be rational. John Stossel understands:

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said yesterday: “Toyota failed its customers.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Toyota problem “may be the most serious safety issue that we have faced here at DOT [during my tenure.]”

The scare-of-the-day is always used by politicians to grab power. But to put the Toyota problem in perspective, before all the media hype, 19 fatal accidents were linked to faulty gas pedals and floor mats over the last decade. That’s fewer than 2 each year. Compare that to America’s 40,000 annual fatal car crashes.

As David Champion, director of automobile testing for Consumer Reports, said to The Guardian:

“I find it a little odd that we’re going to have a Congressional hearing to look at those two deaths out of 40,000… you have to look at death rates in safety terms rationally.”

No one looks at safety “rationally” when the media and Big Government are stirred up.

As does Megan McArdle:

LaHood said he wasn’t worried about this, then proclaimed that safety had to be the number one priority of both his agency, and the automakers, and that he would ceaselessly hunt down malefactors until this was true. This sounds wonderful, of course, but it is not actually true; as Souder pointed out, lowering the speed limit to 30 mph would save a lot of lives, but we don’t do it. Aren’t there tradeoffs, he asked.

At which point Secretary LaHood achieved liftoff and rapidly departed reality. He responded that lowering the speed limit to 30 mph would not save any lives, which is why we have minimum speeds on highways. Representative Souder looked just as flummoxed as I was; did the Secretary of Transportation really not understand that the minimum speed limit exists to ensure that traffic is travelling at basically the same speed–which is indeed safer than allowing wide speed differentials? Could he possibly believe that it was actually safer to drive 40 mph than to drive 30 mph?

Yes, apparently he could. When Souder pointed out that the minimum existed in order to minimize speed differentials, LaHood proclaimed, “I don’t buy your argument, Mr. Souder”. Secretary LaHood seems to be arguing that the laws of the United States override the laws of physics. I spend a fair amount of time hanging around isolationists who take a pretty hardline stance on US sovereignty, but even for me, this was novel.

Leftist-liberals are always claiming that the debate isn’t about “big government” vs “small government”. Barack Obama said it was about “smart, efficient government”. You guys may take that to heart, but you sure don’t take it to wallet. The more important story is, big government can’t deliver on this efficiency. Just like big corporations, big government runs into the harsh realities of networks…however, unlike corporations governments are trying to do much more at any given moment…and they have no competition (what little competition that arises quickly gets squashed in the name of things like “eliminating tax havens”).

And don’t kid yourselves; this is the norm.

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