I try to avoid politics as much as possible, but I have to admit to being very squeamish about the government taking a controlling interest in GM, now known in some circles as Government Motors. So many reasons for concern–like choosing factories to close on political grounds rather than business rationale, but now here is a big one. The government is now going to “investigate” Toyota for its safety problems. And there is talk about civil penalties and maybe all kinds of other punishments. Maybe the government should eliminate Toyota from the US marketplace–they have the right to do that. Already the concern about Toyota (overhyped or not, I’m not sure, but I lean toward the over-hyped view) has resulted in a double-digit dip in their sales. Who has to gain from this? Why the government, of course! Or, maybe I should say taxpayers. So US taxpayers have to gain from Toyota’s problems. What impact does this have on media coverage? Aren’t reporters taxpayers too? Conversely, what would the reporters interest be if the same safety issue faced Government Motors (maybe should be changed to Taxpayer’s Motors)? Would reporters and editors be as tough?
The more I think about this morass, the more disgusted I get. But, if I was on Toyota’s side of this issue, I would see government involvement in GM as a potential huge benefit in dealing with the reputation issues involved. They need to find a way to ask the question of whether or not they can expect fair treatment from Congressional hearings when the members they are looking at are not just representing the public’s interest, but GM’s interest as well. Oh, wait, representing GM’s interest is representing the public’s interest. What a stinking mess.
The biggest loser in this may not be Toyota–it may very well be the credibility of our government. As if they have any more room for loss in public trust. But will we trust them to treat Toyota fairly when they have much at stake in making it look like they made a brilliant decision in supporting GM? They now face the same problem that corporations have in defending their reputation against government attack–the profit motive. Young people in particular have the view that if there is a profit motive, it trumps everything and anyone with any money at stake cannot be trusted to do anything other than protect their investment or ability to profit. Now our government is in that position. What a stinking mess.