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Civics lesson. (Editorial).

It's unfortunate that Bridgestone's response to its foray into the judicial and legislative branches of the U.S. system is to beef up its political clout. The company's establishment of a political action committee is understandable after witnessing the way it's been handled by governmental agencies and the courts. The reality is that PACs are seen as a necessary evil, and Bridgestone feels it has learned a lesson during this recall.

There's no doubt Bridgestone has been educated during this, and I'm going to add to its civics lesson. While the company is correct in seeing the connection between money and influencing people whose jobs are dependent on winning costly elections, they seem to be forgetting about two real important factors in the problems it's experiencing - the 400 lb. gorilla and the home field advantage.

PAC or no PAC, the chances of Bridgestone getting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin a defect investigation on the Ford Explorer were nil from the beginning because of the 400 lb. gorilla that came in the form of Ford and the other manufacturers of sports utility vehicles. Even though Bridgestone's arguments were legitimate and its evidence of a need of an inquiry credible, the NHTSA declined to act.

The home field advantage applies to both the legislative and judicial arenas. The track record for foreign companies trying to get Congress to act against major American corporations is dismal. And it's not any better in courtrooms where local citizens sit on juries in front of a locally-elected judge and role on verdicts involving one of their neighbors against a deep-pocketed company located halfway around the world.

I really can't see how a PAC could have helped Bridgestone through this recall, other than sending a signal to the politicians that they know how the game is expected to be played. But the playing field is never level when your interests differ with those of the auto assemblers.

Group efforts may carry more clout, but the results don't differ much as the Rubber Manufacturers Association is finding out in their attempts to comply with the TREAD act. Their efforts to produce a safe, reliable tire pressure monitoring system are being fought by the auto people. You really don't need a civics lesson to know who is winning this decision.
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Title Annotation:activities of Bridgestone
Comment:Civics lesson. (Editorial).(activities of Bridgestone)(Brief Article)(Editorial)
Author:Smith, Don R.
Publication:Rubber World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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