Congressional conservatives have recently pointed out that among the many factors affecting the economy are the costs associated with making products safe. It goes unstated that we want to buy products that are safe. But what if the costs of making a product safe are so high that they inhibit the product from being competitive in the market place? Supporting the argument from the conservative side of the aisle is that government has created such a bureaucracy overlooking corporate America that the regulations are starting to have a negative effect on product production.
If one accepts the simplest of logic progression, that safety costs money and thus products cost more if safely made, one might find some ground in the conservative side of the argument. Something as simple as a government regulation requiring employees to be safely equipped to manufacture a product instead of being a safety issue becomes a cost factor. This is the same logic that said producing environmentally responsible products would cause production costs to be too high. Time and time again, that logic has been found to be wrong. In fact, in many cases just the opposite is true. The latest idea however that safety may just be unaffordable, I trust will suffer the same fate!
In lieu of the conservative congress achieving relaxation of many of the regulations covering manufacturing, many companies are developing risk assessment plans. Defined in laymen’s terms, the word risk assessment simply means this: how much money can we afford to pay out in lawsuits over product liability before we start loosing money on a product?
For years Detroit had what many called planned obsolesce as part of their production process. Basically a product would wear out in due time and when it did you bought a new car. If memory serves me right, that generally happened right after the car was paid for! Risk assessment; however is a beast of a different nature. From the get go the product had a factor about it that will affect its safe use in a certain percentage of its durable life. The manufacture knows the odds of the failure occurrences, but puts the product on the market anyway, purposely endangering the safety of the user. In most litigation cases, companies with deep pockets can make the court system play to their advantage and stretch lawsuits out for years making settlement or justice only on rare occurrences. In most cases out of court settlements and sealed verdicts compensate victims, but leave others wide open to exposure.
The added cost of expecting wheels to stay on a car when you drive or accelerators to accelerate according to the drivers command has hit the automobile industry where it counts the most. The ideas that the air bag should inflate or even be there and the desire to feel that no matter what you buy it should not cause more harm than good at one time were as basic as the American Dream.
Yet the latest defense of product unreliability blames not the product but the user. Apparently we find ourselves living among a generation of people so stupid that they cannot be trusted with even the simplest instructions regarding product safety.
( more to come…..)