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GREED NEVER SLEEPS: TOYOTA GOES ALL DETROIT ON US!

Now this: In addition to the (!) 9 million or so vehicles that Toyota Motors is recalling to correct the self-accelerating gas pedals that have resulted in many fatalities, their expensive Green model, the hybrid Prius, has been experiencing the opposite problem, brakes that fail when they go over a pothole or other “irregular surface,” sort of undermining the whole idea of having brakes on one’s vehicle, you know, stopping the damned thing to see what the hell you just ran over. The results are potentially the same as the gas pedal fiasco, death behind the wheel. Since Prius also features that trick Toyota gas pedal, that car has the potential to kill its driver twice. Who says the Japanese aren’t innovators but copiers? Hell, the best American car companies could do was to have only one fatal flaw per vehicle at a time!

Which just goes to show what success breeds in corporate circles. Contempt. Contempt born of greed, of course, since that is the only acceptable motivation for corporations in recent years. The passion for building a better and safer product, just like in Detroit, was for the founders of automobile companies, not the bottom line money grubbers who run these multi-billion dollar corporations these days. Once the founders of the automotive industry in both America and Japan were safely dead, their successors began earnestly cutting corners on safety and engineering and firing the skilled and dedicated workers who made these same executives so very wealthy by “outsourcing” their jobs to nations that pay their workers in shiny objects, seed corn and sunglasses.

And now Japanese automobile manufacturers will enter the inevitable period of decline experienced by America’s Big Three auto makers. Today’s corporate weenies don’t care what business they are in, they only want to become instant multimillionaires by any means necessary. And if that means saving money on safety and pocketing the difference, or bundling billions of dollars worth of worthless mortgages and selling them as the greatest thing since dark chocolate, so be it. These so-called “automobile people” could just as well be selling oven mitts, washing machines or cookies, it makes no difference to them. Commitment to quality and innovation is a thing of the past, replaced in almost every large corporation by a serious commitment to greed.

It’s not so much making the boneheaded mistake with the gas pedals (and now the brakes), the truly horrible thing was waiting for people to die before admitting there was a problem. In a move that would make all the unindicted coconspirators in the financial industry proud, Toyota executives attempted to pass off the unwanted acceleration problem on careless drivers failing to secure the floor mats. Nine million careless motorists. Who knows what they’ll say about the Prius brakes? Maybe they’ll go the Wall Street route and blame other car companies or, also like Wall Street, claim they had no idea there was a problem.

So far, the president of the company, Akio Toyoda, a master of understatement, has admitted that Toyota is “in a crisis” and has promised to appoint a committee of top Toyota guys to address the problem, just like the committee the last president of Toyota appointed to address the previous set of defects in their cars. The results? 9 million recalls and counting. No word yet on whether or not this new committee will concentrate on public relations or automobile design. Of course that would require Toyota executives to actually talk to the people who design and build their cars, said people generally unacquainted with the fine points of greed for greed’s sake. Corporate executives are uncomfortable around such people, and vice-versa.

So far, the president of the company, Akio Toyoda, a master of understatement, has admitted that Toyota is “in a crisis” and has promised to appoint a committee of top Toyota guys to address the problem, just like the committee the last president of Toyota appointed to address the previous set of defects in their cars. The results? 9 million recalls and counting. No word yet on whether this new committee will concentrate on public relations or automobile safety. Of course if they opt to address engineering issues, that would require Toyota executives to actually talk to the people who design and build their cars, salaried people generally unacquainted with the fine points of greed for greed’s sake. Corporate executives are uncomfortable around such people, and vice-versa.

When the head guys have no idea what goes on with their products, that doesn’t exactly reassure either their customers or their stockholders. That’s a crisis, alright. So look for Toyota City, home of the Toyota corporation, to start resembling its sister city (true fact) Detroit any year now; high unemployment, empty houses and people deserting the place in droves. So much for Toyota’s dominance of the car market, and good riddance to the ugly pieces of crap with all the fun and flair of a Volvo, minus the reliability, longevity and safety. Looks like Toyota executives will have to get into a different business, maybe the Japanese Stock Market and investment houses. Keep an eye peeled for a huge scandal in a couple of years when Japanese financial institutions start selling multibillion dollar bundles of bad mortgages on tiny houses with paper walls.

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