Regulating Your Competitors – Never a Good Idea (2/25/10)
Just about all major businesses suffer significant setbacks at one time or another. But the great ones correct their problems and continue as leaders.
For decades, Toyota has been a truly great business, setting the standard for automotive quality. And once they get past their current rough patch, I'm confident they'll be back in a flash to producing and selling some of the world's best cars.
But the U.S. government isn't making it easy. Federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into Toyota's safety issues and the Securities and Exchange Commission is also probing the company.
A year ago, this wouldn't have bothered me much. But that was before the government got into the car business itself. Now that it has – as the de facto owner of Chrysler and GM – I'm concerned about it investigating and regulating a company that also happens to be the most powerful competitor.
I'm not saying it's wrong to investigate. But I do wonder if the same kind of scrutiny will be applied to Chrysler or GM if similar issues arise. Or if the power of Washington is simply being used to unjustly handicap the competition.
It's tricky for the government to fairly regulate businesses it competes with. So this investigation into Toyota needs to be as transparent as possible. Then the government needs to get Chrysler and GM off its books and back into private hands as quickly as possible.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.