The Pinto leaves you with that warm feeling

Tom Ridge is in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this morning talking about economic policy:

The shale gas industry is like the auto business — it might hurt some people, but the jobs it brings to a struggling economy make it worthwhile, gas industry pitchman and former Gov. Tom Ridge said Thursday.

'You don't quit building automobiles because some people are going to crash and kill themselves,' said Ridge, who spoke at Carnegie Mellon University. 'You have to manage the risk. Capitalism and entrepreneurialism is risk management.'

Anybody remember the Ford Pinto? Mark Dowie back in 1977 explains:

Ford engineers discovered in pre-production crash tests that rear-end collisions would rupture the Pinto's fuel system extremely easily.

Because assembly-line machinery was already tooled when engineers found this defect, top Ford officials decided to manufacture the car anyway — exploding gas tank and all — even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank.

For more than eight years afterwards, Ford successfully lobbied, with extraordinary vigor and some blatant lies, against a key government safety standard that would have forced the company to change the Pinto's fire-prone gas tank.

Ford waited eight years because its internal 'cost-benefit analysis,' which places a dollar value on human life, said it wasn't profitable to make the changes sooner.

By conservative estimates, Pinto crashes have caused 500 burn deaths to people who would not have been seriously injured if the car had not burst into flames. The figure could be as high as 900. Burning Pintos have become such an embarrassment to Ford that its advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson, dropped a line from the end of a radio spot that read 'Pinto leaves you with that warm feeling.'

Of course, that was the 1970s. Hasn't risk management improved since then? Hmm. Let's see.

First, a photo of the top executives from the financial institutions who received government bailouts.

Executives from the financial institutions who received TARP funds

And now, a photo of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig. 

British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon

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