Friday, April 4, 2014

Villainous GM

This is the story about villainous General Motors. The company knew for 13 years that their cars had a defective ignition switch that can kill people. In fact, thirteen deaths have been linked to it. 

But the company’s obsession with a "cost-benefit analysis" concluded that paying off the deceased's kin was going to be cheaper than having to install a replacement switch that cost just 57 cents. (The figure does not include labor costs). 

They then covered up their findings and continued to let millions drive around with the defective part in their cars. There would be no recalls. And even when people did die, as a result of this wilful negligence – it would seem that GM didn’t really give a damn. 

And the politics were just as disgusting. In 2007 a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official recommended a formal investigation but was overruled by others in Bush's "business-friendly" Transportation Department. 

Mark Wilson/Getty Images 

It took another six years before the story emerged. That happened when Marry Barra (above photo) was named its CEO in January this year and she correctly decided to tell the truth about what GM did. After that, it was one massive recall after another. 

Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars – mostly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions over the faulty switch, which can cause the engine to cut off in traffic, disabling the power steering, power brakes and air bags and making it difficult to control the vehicle. 

Anyway, this is corporate America where profit reigns supreme. Even when human lives are involved, they too can be sacrificed. 

I sometimes think Malaysia is not very much different either.

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