So why should I stand in front of self-righteous angry mobs who are screaming for the heads of Toyota Motors? Why should I give a damn at all?
A) This blog exists because I believe the Producers are essential for any possible economic recovery. I believe that while Producers should be held to the highest standards, I refuse to join in unjustified Producer-bashing. If Toyota were held to the standards of Washington Post pundits, academic economists, or Wall Street banksters, they would have to be 100s of thousands of times worse to even appear on the bad-guy charts. An academic economist might be lucky to get something right twice in his career, Toyota has to get millions of things right every single day.
B) The attack on Toyota offends my sense of automotive expertise. I have been a car aficionado for a long time.
- I was Ford guy in the 1960s when Hank II decided he wanted to win every competition worth winning. Cost was no object--the Ford GT-40 was the second use for aluminum honeycomb after the space program. My neighbor worked for the Ford dealership so I got to read the internal documents on Ford Racing sent to dealers.
- I started reading the car magazines like Car and Driver in 1965--a habit I would continue for 30 years.
- I have owned some pretty interesting cars starting with an Austin-Healy Sprite, a Triumph TR-4, a Mazda RX-7, a Saab 99 and a 900. The Sprite was the worst piece of shit imaginable, the Saab 900 lasted over 296,000 miles. I DO understand automotive build quality.
- I worked for an auto parts store during my university days and maintained my own cars until I was into my 30s. Also helped friends do some pretty serious fixing that occasionally meant pulling an engine.
- Took graduate-level courses in energy and transportation policy at the University of Minnesota.
- Did serious research into state-of-the-art quality control methods in the 1980s--a time when Toyota was rewriting the books on build quality.
- I currently drive a 14-year-old car that is almost flawless in part because I know how to maintain an automobile, and when I need professional help, I know how to hire a qualified mechanic. And my current car, a Lexus LS is by FAR the best-built vehicle I have ever been around. There are times when it astonishes me.
D) One of the reason I like the Toyota story of accomplishment is because it validates Isaiah 2:4 where it reads "They shall beat the swords into plowshares..." One of the many reasons for Japanese excellence in automaking is that their great engineers now perfect Toyotas--NOT build battleships and fighter planes as they did before 1945.
E) Toyota got where it did with hard work. Their reputation for excellence was earned. You don't reach the top of every meaningful quality chart by managing perceptions or running clever ads. You get there by making excellence a daily pursuit--for YEARS. That such a reputation could be ruined with lies and slander offends me.
F) Even if you think Toyota makes ugly rice burners and you can never forgive the Japs for Pearl Harbor, you still can appreciate their influence on the automotive industry. That 2010 Chevy Malibu that is 15 times better than it was 15 years ago is that way because Toyota set the quality bar so high and then told everyone who was interested how they did it.
But as you may have guessed, this is more than some affection for my incredible Lexus. This is personal. I was a preacher's kid. I HATED it. I hated having 250 church ladies who considered it their right to comment on my behavior to my face. But mostly, I hated the infinity of arguments I got into with my father because he wanted me to believe the unbelievable. In his head, if you didn't believe in virgin births, or Noah's Ark, or etc., how could you believe in the resurrection of the dead. And if you didn't believe THAT, you were on your you way to hell. So my otherwise pretty decent father put me in a position where I HAD to believe bullshit or I could not love him properly nor would I spend eternity with him and my mother in heaven.
So I coped with this madness by retreating into a complicated and demanding hobby--building model airplanes. Airplanes flew precisely BECAUSE you never believed anything BUT the believable. Of course, the downside is that flying is VERY unforgiving--get 10,000 things right and one thing wrong and the airplane WILL crash. It is the perfect justice of mother nature--get everything right and you fly--get one thing wrong and you die. Truthfully, I hoped I could spend my adult life in the world of folks who understood the world like airplane builders did. (The airplane below flew pretty well. I was SUCH a nerd)
WRONG. I live in USA where stupidity is deified. It isn't just religion that demands you believe bullshit. It's folks with their crystals and horoscopes and Laffer curves and supply-side economics and the lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is news services that wouldn't know a news story if it smacked them in the face. It is Harvard cranking out a presidential candidate who believed his uncle in the American Army could have liberated Auschwitz. It is folks who would rather read science fiction than learn science fact. It is the infinite worship of pig-headed ignorance.
And the so-called "left" caters to this by telling us that everyone has an equal right to their own opinion. The assumption here is that there is no difference between informed and uninformed opinion. In fact, we aren't even suppose to require that children actually learn something in school.
Unfortunately, in the USA court of public opinion, someone who believes in "unintended acceleration" has equal standing with a company that has produced reliable transportation for millions of fiercely loyal customers.
And THIS is what I object to--that I live in a country that gives equal weight to pure bullshit and excellence in manufacturing. In the back of my mind, I can hear my father telling me I will go to hell because I cannot believe someone turned water into wine.