Monday

Judge Orders Wrecked Records Made Public

Last week, in a little publicized decision, car owners won against the federal government when a federal judge ordered the federal government to get to work and set up a system by March 2009 so consumers can find out if cars and trucks have been badly damaged by floods, fires or car crashes.

It's something the government was supposed to have done years ago when the US Congress passed a law saying that the public needed an open database of damaged vehicles that the public could access for free, so they could make good buying decisions of used cars and trucks and avoid being victimized by crooked car dealers and shady repair shops who rebuild wrecked cars, or worse, and sell them back into the marketplace.

Under the court order, insurance companies and salvage yards and junkyards will be required to provide information on damaged vehicles. We say it's about time.

It is shameful that Washington bureaucrats have stalled and delayed while private database systems have made millions of dollars by selling to consumers the very information that the government is supposed to have been making available for free years ago. It's no wonder consumers are fed up with lifer politicians and fat cat pencil pushers who do you and me no good at all while feeding at the taxpayer's trough.

In court, government officials actually told the judge that they didn't need a court order to comply with the law and that the court could trust them to get it done without imposing a deadline. Yeah, right, guys.

Now facing a final deadline, it only took the feds a week to begin the final process of getting the system in place. It's sort of like it took a federal judge to get the process started and then all of a sudden the feds were ready. Makes you wonder ...

This is a good example of why we need a change in Washington. For too long consumers have not been protected by congressional representatives who would rather take donations from industry sources to protect big business while consumers get ripped off. For too long lobbyists have had the inside edge while consumers have gotten the cold shoulder.

Maybe now the system can start to change. About time.