Mary Barra, GM's first woman CEO offered apologies in a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, but no real explanation for the fact that the car company failed to fix a problem it knew about that endangered people's lives. A faulty ignition switch, which caused cars to abruptly shut off, shutting down all systems inlcuding power steering and air bag deployment, is known to have caused the deaths of 13 people. She did promise to investigate it, though. During the hearing, Congresswoman Diana DeGette held up one of the defective switches, and pointed out that it could have been fixed for 57 cents per car.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore vented his rage about GM's callousness immediately on his Facebook page. It is strong stuff, but many share his outrage over unnecessary deaths, and corporate malfeasance. Of course, it is hard to arrest the "profit motive" or "runaway capitalism," which he cites as the real culprits, so maybe just hunt down the executives who knew full well they were putting people's lives in jeopardy.
In Moore's words:
I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested and made to pay for their pre-meditated decision to take human lives for a lousy ten bucks. The executives at GM knew for 13 years that their cars had a defective ignition switch that would, well, kill people. But they did a "cost-benefit analysis" and concluded that paying off the deceased's relatives was going to be cheaper than having to install a $10 part per car. 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. There would only be parents and the decapitated body parts of their dead children. See the USA in your Chevrolet. 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.
Only now, under the newly-configured GM -- owned, essentially, by you and me from 2009 through last year -- has the truth come out. And my guess is that it has to do with the fact that a mother now runs General Motors. A few months ago, Mary Barra, a former resident of Flint, the daughter of GM union autoworker, was named its CEO. And it looks like she isn't one of the good ol' boys. She stepped forward, announced the truth of what GM did, ordered one massive recall after another, and now is showing up to face Congress in a few hours.
The Washington Post, in an otherwise good article, blames the whole sad affair on the "corporate culture" at GM. What a user-friendly term! To even have to read the words "culture" and "General Motors" in the same sentence is enough to make anyone gag. No, the cause of this tragedy is an economic system that places profit above everything else, including -- and especially -- human life. GM has a legal and fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to make the biggest profits that it can. And if their top people crunch the numbers and can show that they will save more money by NOT fixing or replacing the part, then that is what they are going to goddam well do. F*** you, f*** me, and f*** everybody they sent to their deaths. That pretty much sums up their "culture". They knew they wouldn't get caught, and if they did, no one would ever serve any time.
I hope someone in the Obama administration will get out the handcuffs, the SWAT teams, or the U.S. army if need be, march into GM headquarters in downtown Detroit and haul away anyone who is there who had anything to do with this. And if they already left town, hunt them down and bring them in to face justice.