Toyota is recalling thousands of motor vehicles around the world to deal with certain problems, such as possible brake failures. The story was the lead item on the BBC TV news today, not surprisingly, given the large number of people who now drive Toyota cars. On one level, this issue is being billed as a terrible embarrassment for the Japanese company, but to an extent I find the comprehensive recall of the cars to be a pretty good example, in fact, of how private businesses with a huge brand-name investment have to act when their products have a problem. Can you imagine, say, a government department doing such a massive "recall" of a failed policy? With private business, the penalties for failure are bankruptcy. For government, the consequence of a mess is often more of the same, only with more lumps of taxpayers' money. To put it more technically, there is little in the way of a negative feedback loop when governments are involved.
As an aside, and yes, I know this may seem a bit mean-spirited, but I cannot help reflect that the problems of the Prius cars add to what has been a terrible time for the Green/AGW alarmists. The Prius is very much the car that guilt-ridden, Greenie types like to drive. As the snows continue to fall, who wants to drive one of those machines right now? And in any event, they are just pig-ugly. Time to fire up the Aston Martin, Carruthers.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
An Excellent Point About Government Versus Private Sector Accountability
Over at Samizdata, Johnathan Pearce makes the following distinction between government and the private sector regarding the consequences of failure: