Japan from the inside out

Toyota against the ugliness

Posted by ampontan on Friday, February 26, 2010

STILL MORE on the ramifications of competing with government-owned companies:

Monday brought news that Toyota’s government and activist opponents are piling on to a degree the Big Three may never have experienced, as “federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the company’s safety problems and the Securities and Exchange Commission was probing what the automaker told investors.” I don’t recall any Big Three executive or employee being subjected to a criminal trial relating to a product liability problem, but that possibility now appears to loom at Toyota — just in time to rattle its executives ahead of their congressional testimony.

Finally, it’s more than a little interesting that Department of Transportation spokesperson Olivia Alair was available on Sunday night to tell the press that the Toyota presentation in question was a “very telling” indicator that the company might be placing its bottom line ahead of safety.

What’s really “telling” about the kind of people Toyota faces is that as Barack Obama’s Ohio campaign director in 2008, Alair registered to vote in the Buckeye State even though she doesn’t live there, and was apparently ready to cast an election ballot until a county prosecutor threatened to drop felony charges on her and 12 other Obama campaign workers.

I do hope that the folks at Toyota fully appreciate the ugliness they’re up against.

If they don’t, they’re going to find out.

Here’s another portrait in ugliness:

There is a combined total of 59 Democrats serving on these two (Congressional committees), which hold potentially life-and-death power over Toyota’s ability to continue offering its products to American consumers. So far this year, 31 of the 59 have received re-election campaign contributions ranging from as low as $500 to as high as $10,000 from the United Auto Workers union.

Why is that significant? Because the UAW is a major stockholder of Toyota’s top U.S. rival, General Motors. Also, Toyota has successfully resisted UAW attempts to organize the Japanese firm’s estimated 31,000 assembly line workers employed in five plants here in America.

One reason for GM’s collapse was that bloated pension and health care commitments to retired workers meant they lost money on every car sold.

Can Toyota avoid the clutches of the UAW vampires? Stay tuned.

One Response to “Toyota against the ugliness”

  1. TheTaste said

    While I certainly agree that Toyota is probably getting a raw deal here, but let’s not forget that just a few short years ago the Japanese government chased American beef out of the coutry in the name of “safety” in order to protect domestic industries. I, personally, despise both of these situations, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

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