Aug 30, 2004
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to let automakers keep safety defects hidden from the public. The change was actually made several months ago, buried deep in thousands of pages of federal rules and regulations called the Federal Register.
The automakers and their lobbyists argued that allowing their competitors to learn from their safety problems would be unfair. In other words, said the head of a group suing to change the rule, "They want their rivals to keep making defective products ...."
The automakers have repeatedly shown safety comes last. For example, despite decades of regulation which automakers have fought, they continue to make vehicles with defects that can kill. That was the Ford Explorer roll-over scandal of five years ago and the current Saturn Vue scandal.
But automakers are scarcely the only ones helped by the government, which has shown itself ready to let consumers die to cut costs and raise profits for many industries.
The power industry has supposedly been regulated to prevent pollution in the air for many years. In reality, they continue to pollute. And rules put into effect last December exempt them once again, letting them trade poisonous emissions with one another in such a way that the total pollution goes UP.
The trucking industry also benefitted from a new regulation last year, issued supposedly to "save hundreds of lives," according to the Department of Transportation. This new rule actually lets the companies demand truckers drive 11 hours without a break instead of 10 – even though tired truck drivers already help account for some 5,000 fatalities every year.
Whether it is the vehicles we drive, the food we eat or the air we breathe, we can count on government safety regulation – but only to ensure corporate profits at our expense.