POV: Have Gun, Will Nudge
by Ayn Rand | March 1962
It's Not the Unions — It's the Labor Laws
by Doug Altner | March 19, 2014
Regulatory Strangulation
by Steve Simpson | March 13, 2014
Obamacare creates a new class of free riders
by Rituparna Basu | January 23, 2014
Obamacare Is Suffocating An Already Sick Health Insurance Patient
by Rituparna Basu | January 22, 2014
The Broken State of American Health Insurance Prior to the Affordable Care Act: A Market Rife with Government Distortion
by Rituparna Basu | January 21, 2014
Obamacare is Really, Really Bad for You, Especially If You're Young
by Rituparna Basu | August 21, 2013
Justice Department should let US Airways & American Airlines merger proceed
by Tom Bowden | August 16, 2013
Why Is Apple Inc. On Trial? For Good Behavior, It Turns Out
by Tom Bowden | June 20, 2013
The Forgotten Man of the Minimum-Wage Debate
by Doug Altner | June 19, 2013
Why Delivering Beer Isn’t Easy
by Doug Altner | June 11, 2013
What Explains GM’s Problems With The UAW?
by Doug Altner | May 20, 2013
What Are The Search Results When You Google ‘Antitrust’?
by Tom Bowden | April 18, 2013
To Protect the Defenseless, We Must Abolish the Minimum Wage
by Don Watkins | March 27, 2013
I’ll Buy My Own Contraception, Thanks
by Rituparna Basu | November 13, 2012
Why The Glass-Steagall Myth Persists
by Yaron Brook | November 12, 2012
Why Ayn Rand’s Absence From Last Thursday’s Debate Benefits Big Government
by Yaron Brook | October 15, 2012
Changing the Debate: How to Move from an Entitlement State to a Free Market
by Don Watkins | July 02, 2012
3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Apple Antitrust Case
by Don Watkins | April 10, 2012
What's Really Wrong with Entitlements
by Don Watkins | February 21, 2012
The Entitlement State Is Morally Bankrupt
by Don Watkins | September 13, 2011
How Important Is the Obamacare Litigation?
by Tom Bowden | August 12, 2011
Atlas Shrugged: With America on the Brink, Should You “Go Galt” and Strike?
by Onkar Ghate | April 29, 2011
The Road to Socialized Medicine Is Paved With Pre-existing Conditions (Part 3)
by Yaron Brook | April 06, 2011
The Road to Socialized Medicine Is Paved with Pre-existing Conditions (Part 2)
by Yaron Brook | March 10, 2011
In Defense of Finance
by Yaron Brook | February 15, 2011
The Road to Socialized Medicine Is Paved with Pre-existing Conditions
by Yaron Brook | February 10, 2011
The Avastin Travesty
by Tom Bowden | December 12, 2010
Apple Now Targeted for Success Like Microsoft Was in the 1990s
by Tom Bowden | October 04, 2010
The Un-American Dream
by Don Watkins | August 27, 2010
What About Private Health Emergencies?
by Tom Bowden | April 08, 2010
What’s Really Driving the Toyota Controversy?
by Don Watkins | March 26, 2010
Anti-Smoking Paternalism: A Cancer on American Liberty
by Don Watkins | March 06, 2010
Apple vs. GM: Ayn Rand Knew the Difference. Do You?
by Don Watkins | March 02, 2010
Smash the Labor Monopolies!
by Tom Bowden | September 15, 2009
America’s Unfree Market
by Yaron Brook | May 2009
Atlas Shrugged and the Housing Crisis that Government Built
by Yaron Brook | March 2009
The Green Energy Fantasy
by Keith Lockitch | February 25, 2009
Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures
by Yaron Brook | November 13, 2008
The Resurgence of Big Government
by Yaron Brook | Fall 2008
The Government Did It
by Yaron Brook | July 18, 2008
From Flat World To Free World
by Yaron Brook | June 26, 2008
How Government Makes Disasters More Disastrous
by Tom Bowden | April 29, 2008
Life And Taxes
by Yaron Brook | April 17, 2008
War On Free Political Speech
by Yaron Brook | March 21, 2008
To Stimulate The Economy, Liberate It
by Yaron Brook | February 14, 2008
Exploiters vs. Victims in the Grocery Strike
by Elan Journo | January 30, 2004
Prescription Drug Benefits Violate the Rights of Drug Companies
by Onkar Ghate | July 24, 2002
Drop the Antitrust Case Against Microsoft
by Onkar Ghate | March 17, 2002


Government And Business in Voice for Reason
Government & BusinessRegulations

What’s Really Driving the Toyota Controversy?

by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook | March 26, 2010

How many Congressmen does it take to identify the cause of a runaway Toyota Prius? No, it’s not a trick question. Yesterday a Congressional panel issued a draft report on a case of supposed runaway acceleration reported last week in San Diego.

Why wasn’t that left to the objective assessment of the police and courts? The answer to that question was made clear during last month’s Congressional hearings on the Toyota recalls.

In February Toyota execs were hauled in front of Congress, purportedly so that renowned auto experts like Henry Waxman could determine the cause of reported cases of unintended acceleration and evaluate Toyota’s alleged failure to respond.

The hearings had the fingerprints of politics all over them. Indeed, it was uncanny how easily a careful observer could predict whether a given Congressman would defend or deride Toyota. Just take stock of which pressure groups dominate his district.

Would you believe that Rep. John Dingell of Detroit was highly critical of Toyota? Or that Henry Cuellar, whose district is home to thousands of Toyota employees, came to the car company’s defense?

The whole spectacle is a rogues’ gallery of pressure groups descending upon Washington.

The United Auto Workers union showed up hoping to use Toyota’s problems as leverage to force the company to keep open its sole UAW factory. Rumor has it that some in the UAW camp even hope to unionize all of Toyota’s U.S. factories.

The trial lawyers are drooling at the prospect of parlaying Toyoda’s apology into hundred-million-dollar awards. No need to wait for the evidence to come in, either — they have their own “experts” who already “know” Toyota is covering up pedals of doom.

And then there’s the Detroit lobby, which is hard to distinguish from the government itself now that the government holds a 60 percent stake in General Motors. Even if concerns about an electronic problem in Toyota’s pedals turn out to be baseless, domestic manufacturers stand to benefit by prolonging the parade of bad publicity.

Anyone who thinks Toyota’s executives were summoned to Congress to discuss the evidence concerning Toyota’s pedals has missed the point. Regardless of what we ultimately discover about Toyota, this was about a horde of pressure groups seeking to impose their economic agendas via political power. But pressure groups are only a symptom. The cause is the government’s power to intervene in the market to pick winners and losers.

In the auto industry alone, the government controls everything from whom car companies can hire (unionized employees) to what kind of vehicles they must build (hybrids). And elsewhere it decides which businesses are “too big to fail,” which industries “deserve” massive subsidies, and which unproven technologies warrant billions of taxpayer “investment.” That’s a recipe for pressure group warfare.

This is not what Madison and Jefferson had in mind. Their vision was of a strictly limited government, which would perform one basic function — guard individual rights. Its role was to protect the individual’s rights to life, liberty, and property from infringement by thugs and frauds, while otherwise leaving people free to produce and trade in a free market. In the original American system, it’s the job of the market to pick winners and losers, and the job of the courts — not Congress — to arbitrate disputes, such as that between Toyota and drivers harmed in accidents.

The truth is Toyota’s troubles should not be a political issue. On a free market, Toyota would have to address the real or alleged problems with its cars and work to restore its reputation with consumers, or suffer the consequences. And if the company were proved in a court of law to be guilty of negligence, it would be held accountable. In any case, there would be no need for the circus now taking place, with all its sordid political posturing and favor-trading.

So here’s a proposal. Make Washington come up with a plan to disentangle government from the economy. It might even start with a Congressional investigation.

About The Authors

Don Watkins

Former Fellow (2006-2017), Ayn Rand Institute

Yaron Brook

Chairman of the Board, Ayn Rand Institute