April 2, 2010 — This mid-week bonus of HFTF was actually the pilot episode of the show we recorded in January, but is only now hitting the website and iTunes (apologies!). It features an interview with Lee Vinsel, doctoral candidate in the history department at Carnegie Mellon University. We talk about his dissertation, “Breaking Detroit: State Management of the Automobile in the U.S., 1966-1988.” Lee’s dissertation focuses on the federal government’s efforts to regulate crash safety, fuel efficiency, and emissions. Though we recorded the interview before much of the fallout from the Toyota brake failures hit the media, Lee’s work explains the origins of the government involvement — and perhaps negligence — in the automobile industry. Also, just yesterday the EPA and DOT announced new, tighter restrictions on fuel efficiency for automobiles sold in the U.S. Check out the New York Times article on the new regulations, and enjoy this belated episode!
Note: This photo, showing an inspector testing auto emissions in 1973, was taken as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Documerica” photo project.