But they're not making the right choice!
Posted by aogSunday, 09 March 2003 at 11:42 TrackBack Ping URL
I was listening to Car Talk this morning on the way to work and I heard them chattering on about the NHTSA Chief, Dr. Jeffrey Runge. Apparently Runge said that he wouldn't buy his kids a SUV because of safety concerns at a car show.

Car Talk has been on a crusade abougt SUVs for years (basically I stopped listening regularly soon after they became obsessed). This time Click & Clack's major claim was that the car industry was run by evil corporate executroids who had discovered that what moves product is power and speed, not efficiency and safety. What this means is that the crime these ECEs are guilty of is building cars people want to buy. Gosh, how un–American! Why would any corporate executroid want to build products that satisfy customer desires? Pure evil in their hearts is clearly the only explanation.

But do not fear, good citizen — Click & Clack have the solution - the government will force you to buy "good" cars, ones that are safe and efficient. Of course, Click & Clack talk about this as forcing the automakers to do the government's bidding. But since the problem is the automakers building cars people want, the only thing the government can really do is force the automakers to build cars that people do not want.

Which brings us back to Runge. I think it's fine for Runge to say that he wouldn't buy his kids an SUV because of safety concerns. In his most recent appearance before Congress he said that it was up to the automakers, not the government, to make SUVs safer. But that's not correct. It's up to the consumers to make the change. If the public starts buying SUVs for safety and not power I do not doubt that the automakers will modify the vehicles in accordance with this desire. I even agree with Senator Barbara Boxer (ugh!):

“Basically, you just told the truth…. You’re saying you wouldn’t buy one for your family,” she said. “I think that the truth–tellers save lives.”
I suspect, though, that Boxer and I part company on the appropriate government response to this.

In contrast, Senator McCain doesn't come off very well in my view. He organized the hearings because of Runge's original statement. McCain said that doesn't trust the automakers to make safe SUVs. Yet that is the type of car he and his family drive (which I'm sure they need on the hard mountain roads of Washington, D.C.). So, Senator, rather than you selecting cars that are safe for your family, you want to the government to force automakers to make cars to your personal satisfaction? That's certainly a stand for personal responsiblity.