"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Road & Track: "The government knew about GM ignition problems and did nothing"

"But the UAW donate a helluva lot to Democrats, so you know..."

Because, you know, the UAW GM is too big too fail.

From the Road & Track article by  Ed Niedermeyer (h/t Instapundit):

GM's recent wave of recalls reveals the ugly truth: The brutal competition for car sales can lead automakers to cut corners, including in crucial safety gear like airbags, steering, and brakes. The bottom line is that some automakers can't be relied on to always put customer safety first. 
In these situations, even the staunchest libertarian has to admit an uncomfortable truth: When all else fails, we ultimately rely on government regulators to ensure our safety on the road. Unfortunately, the still-unfolding GM scandal reveals that motorists can hardly rely on this last line of defense. That's because, like so many aspects of the US regulatory system, auto safety officials have more incentive to serve the interests of the automakers they are charged with watchdogging than to fulfill their public duty. Though the GM scandal is grabbing attention, it's clear that the NHTSA's problems run deeper than its failure to catch an ignition scandal it knew about as early as 2004 and only considered formally investigating in 2007.  
A recent New York Times article reveals the depth of revolving-door problem among auto regulators, pointing out that the last administrator of the National Highway Transit Safety Administration, David Strickland, left the agency for a lobbying firm employed by Chrysler the day after approving a controversial "fix" for rear-impact fire risk in Jeep Grand Cherokees. The fact that Strickland was apparently negotiating a job with a Chrysler lobbyist while making the decision to drop a recall of Grand Cherokees adds to a drumbeat of concern about this issue that dates back to at least the Toyota recall firestorm of 2010.  
With the GM scandal providing a far more credible basis for a renewed push for regulation than the largely misunderstood Toyota problems, a number of lawmakers are reviving the push for tighter MVSA-style regulations. But although the GM situation may better illustrate the need for auto safety regulation, it's still unclear whether any proposed regulation could have prevented what appears to have been a shocking abdication of responsibility at GM.  
Perhaps, then, the answer to America's latest auto safety crisis does not lie in simply throwing more money at the NHTSA, which clearly needs a better monitoring mandate before it can even hope to efficiently spend more tax money protecting consumers. In fact, the answer may not lie in regulation at all, but in a strong criminal law enforcement regime that targets the individuals responsible for defects that lead to injury and death. By creating new criminal penalties for auto safety malfeasance, along with strong incentives for whistleblowing, lawmakers could force individual employees to hold their companies responsible for design defects—or face the consequences. After all, the problem at GM seems to have stemmed from a lack of individual responsibility within a broader deficit in corporate responsibility.

And, rather importantly, we need to leave economic fascism out of our government.

As enormous gasbag Michael Moore calls on death and commando style raids on whoever is responsible at GM (no doubt, he believes executives are to blame), let's not forget that Obama was busily touting the GM Cobalt back in 2009. (video here)

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