Senator: Free Trade Is All Well And Good, But Who Will Protect Americans From The Yellow Peril?

Former Agriculture Secretary and current Senator Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska) wants you to know that he supports free trade as much as anyone in the Senate, but he's worried that them Japanese are taking advantage of it:

I'm as free-trade as anybody here, but I can tell you the American consumer is getting tired of this thing if we are getting substandard products.

So he'd like to ban future imports of Japanse cars.

Asserting that the Japanese government has a role in insuring products shipped from its nation are safe, Johanns asked rhetorically, what if: "Until the Japanese government can assure us that all of the defects are out of these vehicles, we're just not going to accept any vehicles from Japan." Referring to restrictions on U.S. beef, he said, "That's what they did with one of our industries."

Yellow Peril Japanese Octopus!

The Senator was referring to a ban, lifted in 2006, on US beef imports to Japan. Considering that beef is a relatively tiny part of the US economy, while cars are a relatively massive part of the economy, I'm not at all sure that the Senator from Nebraska, where beef is a top industry, was posing his question rhetorically.

And so in that spirit, I'd like to ask the Senator a few questions:

  1. Why should the government of Japan be responsible for defects in Toyota vehicles when the United States government isn't responsible for the shoddy output of General Motors and Chrysler?
  2. Does your proposed ban cover vehicles manufactured in Toyota's massive United States plant and operations?
  3. If it does, what do you say to the company's American employees?
  4. If not, why not, considering that many if not most of the allegedly defective accelerators were made in the USA?
  5. What did Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Isuzu, Kawasaki, and Yamaha ever do to the Nebraska beef industry?
  6. Speaking of Mazda, what do you have against the Ford Motor Company?
  7. Speaking of the Ford Motor Company, considering that you opposed the government's rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, if your proposal goes forward, can I buy anything other than a Ford in the future?  Or will I have to settle for a Model-T in any color, so long as it's black?
  8. And speaking of wasteful government bailouts, what is it with you and the ethanol subsidy? Why is it that corn farmers deserve to receive involuntary transfers from taxpayers when auto workers don't?
  9. You've denounced the Obama administration's proposal for a Consumer Finance Protection Agency as a "power grab over the nation's economy".  I happen to own a Toyota and like it.  Isn't telling me that I can't buy a new one a similar power grab?
  10. Off topic, but what the hell was that whole Power Panther thing about anyway?

usda power pantherI don't actually expect the Senator to answer my questions, but I assure you that they are not rhetorical.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. Robert says

    US auto makers have desperately tried to bring elements of Toyota's TQM into their own operations for at least 25 years. Sen. Johanns implication that Toyota's quality pales in comparison – shortly after Toyota takes the #1 position in the auto industry and US manufacturers nearly collapse (did collapse?) – smacks of blind patriotism.

    Your list of questions is nearly complete. You left out "do you take your Freedom Fries with ketchup or mayo?".

  2. Joe says

    My American branded Pontiac Vibe was built by a Japanese company in an American factory. Senator Mike Johanns' head explodes.