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Someone Please Expain This To Me

why is the government involved in the Prius brake problems .... what do they have to do with any of this -
(do they own Toyota) I must confess complete ignorance on this subject as it is something I am not well versed - Is this just more corporatism / nationalism ...
has the governement always been involved in car safety
and recalls etc.... if not, when did this start.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100205/ap_on_bi_ge/toyota_recall

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I think...

it started in 1965 when Ralph Nader wrote this book:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsafe_at_Any_Speed
And like the government always does in response to any problem; they created another federal agency.