Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apology Not Accepted

I was struck yesterday by the appearance of Akio Toyoda at a meeting the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It was not that he offered the expected apology over the recent safety issues that his company's products have experienced, which genuine or not was simply good corporate theater. Instead, I was struck by the fact that this hearing was being held in a Congressional committee purportedly dedicated to government oversight and reform, and the sheer gall of members of Congress for thinking that they had the stature to hold such hearings. 

Was it not the failure of Congressional oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that contributed greatly to the bursting housing bubble? Was it not the failure of Congressional oversight in the banking industry that allowed this bubble to expand into a banking crisis requiring a massive bailout? Was it not a failure of Congressional reform and oversight that allowed the Federal Reserve to live in an unnatural relationship with major banks and brokerage houses of this country, largely causing the escalation of the current financial crisis? Was it not a failure of Congressional oversight that has allowed the Social Security and Medicare to become bankrupt in all but name? Was it not a failure of Congressional oversight and reform that allows the deficit to spiral out of control, forcing Congress to recently raise the debt ceiling yet again? (An effort that they admit will be but a stop gap measure ...) 

Where do these politicians get the brass ones to call anyone in front of the cameras to perform in a rather poorly acted version of the Spanish Inquisition? How can they who have failed in their own tasks so grandly and consistently ask anyone to submit to questioning that is little more than a public pillory? How can members of this group that has so greatly placed the safety of every man, woman, and child in this country at risk attempt to show righteous indignation over the apparent lapse of one company to serve the needs of its customers? 

There is a difference between Toyota and Congress in such lapses however. With Toyota, they are not only willing to admit past their mistakes, but their record of pride and dedication can lead to no other conclusion than that they will resolve the issues recently come to light to everyone's satisfaction. 

With Congress however, there is no admission of guilt for failure forthcoming, nor any real possibility that they will do anything substantive to address the issues (mostly of their own creation) that lie before them. I am therefore more than willing to accept the apology that Mr. Toyoda has generously offered. As for Congress, even if they ever do finally offer an apology (Olympic hockey finals being played in Hell has a better chance), it will not be accepted.

No comments: