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Archive for March 2010

Health care finally getting the coverage it needs

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The House passed virtual universal health care by a narrow margin late Sunday. And for all the ballyhoo and detractors on both sides of the aisle and out in the mall, it is truly historic.

The good news is it will protect folks who are sick from getting their medical insurance cancelled, and help those with children who have particular chronic illnesses or diseases. Health care now becomes portable. If this were a more robust economy with a strong job market, it could have led to lots of job shifting. However, with unemployment in the double digits, this won’t happen.

Was health care reform needed? Absolutely. Is this a perfect plan? Not by a long shot. Big not tiny incremental steps may have been more sensible, but when have the folks in Washington exhibited much of a lick of sense.

Now it’s back to the Senate where more jostling will occur.

But love it or hate it, it is a remarkable achievement.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy had a valid point in his Howard Dean- like tirade on the floor. As the dust settles and the sound bites from various Representatives are now unnecessary, media have been digging in and providing the type of basic information that was in short supply in the shrill months preceding this.

This story is far more important and interesting and vital to the future of the country than the provocative photos of John Edward’s mistress in GQ (a videographer herself, she was schocked…shocked by the photos. Yeah, right.) or the return of a Tiger to the links (will she or won’t she come to the match…who cares).

Media should have been providing the in-depth information and explanations of the health care proposal a lot earlier. But I suspect Elizabeth Edwards on People’s cover or Rielle Hunter’s interview on E.T. or TMZ garners more of a following.

And that is the fault of we the people.

And also…Google’s made its latest chess move in China today–the Hong Kong strategy. China’s response bear watching, but come on Google guys, your success was built on an uncensored Internet. Take the high road on this one. Censorship is bad for business but worse for the web world.

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Written by jrnjbb

March 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Toyota has my owner loyalty. NHTSA data shows why.

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Toyota is navigating some very troubled waters. Sudden acceleration, braking problems–these are serious issues that have cost lives. But it seems its public relations folks have taken a page or two from Tylenol in responding to the millions of cars recalled.

Unlike Tylenol, a victim of a still unidentified criminal actor, the blame is squarely on its corporate shoulders. But it is responding by, heaven help us, actually admitting the problem (ok, so it did take awhile) and accepting responsibility for it and devising a fix–and doing it all on a very public stage where it seems Congress and safety regulators have their knives out ready for the kill.

The Little Three, supported by intense media coverage, have been given an unexpected gift with Toyota’s troubles. Ford seems to be the only one benefitting based on car sales last month–and Ford deserves to gain market share. Ford took hits and re-imagined its business, did layoffs, buyouts and other cost savings measures before the big crash. In a strategically smart move, only Ford did not go to the government for loans.

But it is unfair and disingenuous to hammer Toyota when Ford, Chrysler and GM, among others, have all had a significant number of recalls. And did any of the now Little Three actually shut down production and stop selling cars until it could fix the problem?? You’ve got to be kidding! Of course not.

I’ve owned 23 cars over the past 36 years. Three Chevys (including a Nova–virtually trouble free until the 37th month, one month after my last car payment. That’s when planned obsolescence what a common practice. A Vega, one of GM’s worst ever cars, though it was the Motor Trend car of the year at its launch. It literally rusted apart, oh, and we did have a little problem with sudden acceleration on a scary ride down I-75 in Detroit one day. We also owned a Buick Skylark–a solid, reliable car), three Fords (a gas guzzling Bronco, a potential death trap Pinto–remember the exploding gas tanks and a reliable Taurus), a Chrysler station wagon (its electrical failed stranding us the second week we owned it) and a Jeep (my fillings have never recovered, and there were dire warnings about rollovers), three Hondas (including a van), three Subarus (including my current Forester), three Lexus, a BMW, an Audi and four Toyotas (including our current Sienna).

Frankly, I had more recalls and service issues with the then Big Three than with Toyota or Honda or Subaru. My current Sienna van has had two recalls. The dealer was proactive, helpful and accommodating. For one protracted repair prior to a recall, Toyota paid for a loaner for two weeks until parts arrived and my van was fixed.

But with this latest problem, Toyota became a lightning rod for government scrutiny. Congress held hearings. Toyota’s president was summoned to Congress to testify. I don’t recall that happening for any U.S. car maker other than when they are trying to borrow money. Toyota is addressing the problem–likely as quickly, or maybe even more quickly than U.S. carmakers have ever done. That design-flawed rust bucket of a Vega actually had 11 recalls from 1971-1979, though the car had disintegrated long before then for us.

Did Toyota mess up? Absolutely, but they are working to correct the problems and actually apologized for their problems. Never heard that from a CEO of a U.S. car company.

My point, news outlets have pounced on Toyota–and not just in Michigan–for its problems, almost gleefully. That’s not fair. There have been literally tens of thousands of recalls, to be precise 82,411 records listing recalls since 1966 on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Check out the real info at the NHTSA site. I crunched the data. Of that number, Toyota has had just 869 recalls. In contrast GM has had 9,064; Ford 5,662; Chrysler 4,809; Honda 1,231; Nissan 1,036 and Volvo 2,182. BMW has had just 185 recalls, Mercedes 606 and Mazda 391.

Toyota, in my judgment, still builds a great car despite this current glitch. It has accepted responsibility and has worked to correct the problem. When it’s time to replace my Toyota Sienna, I will buy another Toyota. ┬áBecause they still make a quality product, and it will be even better than ever now. Company pride and Japanese face and honor is on the line.

Written by jrnjbb

March 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized