Friday, July 18, 2014

The Story Just Keeps Getting Better...

Let me get out my shocked face...

NY Times document analysis indicates GM lied about fatal crashes
The company's internal reports reveal answers; its responses to regulators play dumb.

Here's a brief refresher on the ignition scandal: Defective ignition switches in about 2.6 million older GM cars didn't have sufficient torque resistance. That means that when jostled, they could allow the key to turn in the switch, shutting the cars off. That's bad because the fault could impair the driver's ability to control the car and disable the airbags at the same time. GM says this issue was a factor in 13 deaths—the actual number is likely higher. Now it's becoming clear that GM knew about the issue much earlier than it's let on.
I know, I know. It is absolutely shocking that a company knew about a blatantly unsafe problem with their product and did nothing. Especially when doing something would have:

a) cost money; and
b) made them look really really incompetent.

But wait! It gets even betterer!

The government knew about GM ignition problems and did nothing
Driving is the most dangerous thing most people do on a regular basis. But what happens when the companies that build our cars skimp on the equipment we rely on to keep ourselves safe?

GM's recent wave of recalls reveals the ugly truth: The brutal competition for car sales can lead automakers to cut corners, including in crucial safety gear like airbags, steering, and brakes. The bottom line is that some automakers can't be relied on to always put customer safety first.
What's even better about this second story is the serious disconnect from reality between "libertarians want there to be no government oversight" and "oh, the harsh reality is that even when there is strict government oversight, things still get totally AFU." Even though the NHTSA was notified about GM's problems, they did, well, just what big government agencies do whenever there's a big crisis involving a large political block (unions): Nothing.

Oh, that eeeeeeevil big business! GM cutting all those corners to save money! You see, this is why we need huge, inefficient bureaucracies! Because without a giant group devoted to overseeing the safety of the cars and trucks on America's highways, who would ignore blatant faults and warnings? Those fact-finding missions aren't going to fund themselves!

Of course, the finger points back to big business, because many of the NHTSA regulators wound up leaving the agency to become lobbyists for the automakers. In their twisted way of thinking, it's the fault of business that government employees - the ones that spend years learning how government operates and how to get around it - go to the private sector once they've secured a cushy pension.

You know what the really funny thing is? The libertarian solution WOULD have worked had the government not stepped in and shoveled billions of taxpayer dollars at GM. GM was about to go under - which, from all indications we're seeing now would have been a mercy killing - and the government stepped in to stop the Darwinian winnowing of the unfit to survive. Had the government not bailed GM out, they might have gone out of business or been sold - potentially sparing many years of defective cars causing crashes.

But yeah, blame big business, because giving the government more power isn't going to totally blow up in our faces. Again.

That is all.


Angus McThag said...

You know, I love how people are reacting to this like it's something new.

Like it'd never happened before. Read up on Ford and their tendency to pay individual settlements rather than do recalls because it's cheaper.

And while everyone is blaming GM for the ignition thing we're overlooking that the root cause is people hanging a pound plus of crap from their key-rings. GM is only taking it in the shorts because someone notice the parts made don't match the drawings and that a revision from the smaller detent was made at one point. To a lawyer that means knowledge, ask an engineer what that might mean... But then the customer overloads the detent and the car shuts off and they have no idea how to operate it dead-stick... That's not a huge corporation problem that's a customer problem.

Geodkyt said...

No, Angus -- it's a design and production problem.

Because we know a large percentage of Americans will be doing just that, it is negligent not to attempt to design to account for it. If people were perfect, we wouldn't need back up lights, backup beepers in trucks, airbags, or seatbelts.

When you go forward, and it becomes clear the "as built" was weaker than the "as designed", that's a serious problem.

ASM826 said...

What will really be interesting is when the new GM says in court that they cannot be held liable for anything the old General Motors did.

It's inevitable. They are not the same company, that's pretty well established legally.

Bubblehead Les. said...

A). Which Old GM? The one that went Bankrupt? Or the one that OBAMA BOUGHT after the Bankruptcy to save all those United Auto Workers Jobs? Because if THAT GM is sued, could the Suits be dropped because it was a "Government Entity" and is immune due to "Sovereign Immunity'? Not a Lawyer, but don't be surprised if that Card gets played.

B) Update on my Malibu Maxx's Recalls. I finally received ONE Recall Notice (out of the Four!) Informing me that it'll be fixed when "The Parts are Available, and don't Call us, we'll Call you". Wish I could afford the Lawyers Fee's, since the Resale Value has dropped to Zip Point Squat.

Cargosquid said...

Don't the unions own GM, now?

I wonder how much union money will be involved?

Stretch said...

Like Bubblehead my wife's Malibu recvd. a "when we get parts" letter. Arrived just this week. Letter did NOT say what part(s) needed replacement.

Scott_S said...

I roll a german car for a reason. Those Krauts don't mess around as most of their cars see 120-180 regularly.