- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I am a floor supervisor at Stone City Product, a metal-stamping facility in Bedford, Ind. Many of the products we manufacture are for Toyota plants in Georgetown, Ky.; Huntsville, Ala.; Princeton and Lafayette, Ind.; and San Antonio. All too often during this economic downturn, I have had to tell many hardworking people, people with families, that their jobs were being cut because of a lack of orders. While this kept me up at night and often made me ill, I understand the company does what it has to do to survive in a bad economy.

However, since the media circus surrounding the Toyota recalls, it has gone from bad to worse. Many doubt our company’s ability to remain open if things don’t improve in a couple of months. This is the case for scores of other companies that supply Toyota.

I was puzzled as to why Congress, which should have its hands full with other things, has taken such a sudden interest in crucifying Toyota. David Strickland, who was confirmed as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator in December, says the rate of complaints against Toyota was “unremarkable” when compared with complaints about other makers. Then a few things became clear about who was pushing the issue and why. Many Americans are seeing an obvious conflict of interest in this matter for a number of reasons:

c The government is Toyota’s business competition. It owns General Motors and Chrysler. Would we allow congressmen who happened to be on the board of Pfizer to hold hearings concerning Eli Lilly product safety, especially a kangaroo-court-style hearing obviously designed to smear the company’s reputation with its current and potential customers?

c The very Democrats who are orchestrating this witch hunt were responsible for the auto industry bailout and other gifts to the industry, such as “cash for clunkers.” They appeared a little miffed when the company that benefited most from all of this was Toyota. This added insult to injury after the United Auto Workers already had been forced to make concessions. I think Peter Foster of the Financial Post put it best in his March 2 article, “Runaway legislators bully Toyota”: “There is also spillover resentment from the huge bailouts of GM and Chrysler, for which Toyota is assumed to have been partly responsible by being too darned competitive. So let’s git ‘em, and maybe help Government Motors in the process.”

c Years ago, Toyota was hated for being a foreign car manufacturer. Today it is despised for building factories in America and employing thousands of Americans in well-paying jobs. The problem: They are nonunionjobs, the kind all automakers - including GM and Chrysler - are looking to as the model for cost-effectiveness and a more competitive future. GM employees don’t try to hide their pleasure with the crucifixion of Toyota and the fear-mongering Congress is perpetuating. It’s all good for the UAW, and what’s good for the UAW shows up as contributions to Democrats in Washington.

We see it. Everybody sees it. And when thousands more people lose their livelihoods because of a government-sponsored smear campaign, they will remember on Election Day those who caused it.

DAVID ALLEN

Bedford, Ind.

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