Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by n1 on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:37PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the unique-series-of-mistakes dept.

James R. Healey reports that General Motors has fired 15 people who either were incompetent or irresponsible in their actions involving fatally flawed ignition switches that are linked to 13 deaths in crashes where airbags failed to inflate. "A disproportionate number of those were in senior roles or executives," said GM CEO Mary Barra. Two high-ranking engineers previously put on paid leave were among them, said Barra adding that five more employees "one level removed" were disciplined in unspecified ways because they "simply didn't take action."

A far back as 2002, General Motors engineers starting calling it the "switch from hell" but it would take a dozen years, more than 50 crashes and at least 13 deaths for the automaker to recall the ignition switch, used in millions of small cars. GM's own internal investigation never explains how a lone engineer in a global automaker could approve a less expensive part that failed to meet GM standards. Nor does it illuminate why the same engineer could substitute an improved design without changing the part number, a move critics cite as evidence of a cover-up. After the first cars with the switch went on sale, GM heard complaints from customers, employees and dealers. But "group after group and committee after committee within GM that reviewed the issue failed to take action or acted too slowly," the report said. A unique series of mistakes was made," said Barra. And the problem was misunderstood to be one of owner satisfaction and not safety. GM engineers didn't understand that when the switches failed, they cut power to the airbags.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:46PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:46PM (#53002)

    Usually corporate bloodlettings like this never tell the truth. Some exec is leaving to spend time with his family or whatever other BS. So the specific scapegoats almost certainly have little if anything to do with the switch or at least don't have any more blame than a zillion other people. Because most corporations are horribly corrupt political organizations.

    So given that postulate, I wonder what they did to get fired? Hopefully not boring stuff like race/sex/religion. I'm hoping for something more interesting. Scandalous. Probably nothing related to the switches, thats probably the only thing you can rule out.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:50PM (#53003)

      > So given that postulate, I wonder what they did to get fired?

      Probably nothing more than being in wrong place at the wrong time when looking for a scapegoat.

      The problem is almost certainly cultural, more incentive to shutup and go along to keep along than to make a fuss and risk a career. 99.9% of the time it pay not to rock the boat. This is the 0.1% when it didn't pay.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:08PM (#53016)

      The CEO and the VP of Manufacturing et al justify their multi-$million compensations by indicating that the whole operation would grind to a halt without them in place to make sure everything is going smoothly.
      When this sort of thing happens, however, there is a glass ceiling WRT responsibility.
      The American economic/industrial system is a complete mess.
      The same goes for the so-called justice system.

      -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:12PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:12PM (#53047) Homepage

        Here's a true corporate horror-story I have experienced, with some of the details changed to protect the guilty:

        ElectroCorp makes toys that cost tens of thousands of dollars each. One by one, though, they are returned defective and the company determines that a manufacturing defect in one faulty piece renders the entire gadget (even the housing!) unusable when that part fails. When the company should have fessed up and instituted a recall (expensive but still saving many of the gadgets with the easy replacement of that one piece), it instead denied the problem. What the company did was offer the customer the option to pay to replace the faulty piece as a "recommended upgrade", and when the customer declined, the part was still replaced on the sly for every RMA that came in. The company actually still does that for two separate parts on the system.

        As the saying goes, "Those who enjoy sausage are best left not knowing how it's made."

        • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Monday June 09 2014, @12:38PM

          by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @12:38PM (#53202) Journal

          The bitch is that "a car that lasts 10 years like it should" really don't exist as they ALL have serious problems thanks to asshole accountants putting a dollar sign on every screw and bolt. Ford? Their overdrives fail A LOT, in fact I wouldn't be surprised to find out the reason they got rid of the ranger was how many trannys they were replacing. GMC? Ignition, not just this one, the ones they had in the big SUVs and trucks likewise suck only they tend to stick and make it harder to turn as the vehicles age. Dodge? Cooling systems and overdrives, depending on model they can spend more time in the shop than they do on the road. Same goes for most of the imports, its all ruled by accountants instead of engineers so all that matters is how many sheckles they can squeeze off the BOM.

          --
          ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
          • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @03:44PM

            by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @03:44PM (#53272) Homepage Journal

            The bitch is that "a car that lasts 10 years like it should" really don't exist

            Oh, really? My 2002 Concorde just bit the dust, twelve years old. And the engine's failure was my own fault. I replaced it with a 2004 Grand Am, and it runs fine. I expect to still be driving it five years from now. And I see REALLY old classic cars all the time, cars even older than me and I don't work any more (retired).

            Forty years ago you would have been correct, back then a five year old car was rusted out, burning oil, leaking water, and the interior was shot. Today's cars are far better built.

            --
            Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 2) by Rune of Doom on Monday June 09 2014, @03:34AM

        by Rune of Doom (1392) on Monday June 09 2014, @03:34AM (#53118)

        "huge mess" is an understatement. What it is, is a corrupt and non-functional sytem. "Gilding and lies slapped over dry rot."

    • (Score: 2) by Rune of Doom on Monday June 09 2014, @03:37AM

      by Rune of Doom (1392) on Monday June 09 2014, @03:37AM (#53120)

      Based off personal experience, they probably rubbed some of their direct management the wrong way, or failed to kiss enough ass. Probably not in any way directly related to this debacle (for fear that they might have some record of their complaints) but given the disaster that is typical US corporate "organization" and "management" I wouldn't be surprised to find out that in the next week one (or more) of these sacrificial goats has solid proof that they tried to blow the whistle internally and were slapped down.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @03:28PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @03:28PM (#53267) Homepage Journal

      That makes no sense and contradicts what TFA says.

      "A disproportionate number of those were in senior roles or executives," she said. Two high-ranking engineers previously put on paid leave were among them, Barra said. That would be switch engineer Ray DeGiorgio and development engineer Gary Altman.

      Barra wouldn't identify others.

      Barra said five more -- "one level removed" -- were disciplined in unspecified ways because they "simply didn't take action." She wouldn't name them.

      The two she named sure sound like the real culprits to me. Why would you NOT fire an incompetent engineer?

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 1) by Justin Case on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:01PM

    by Justin Case (4239) on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:01PM (#53005) Journal
    Fired?! Where are the murder charges? Yes I know that's not the employer's place, but should I hold my breath waiting for law enforcement to step in? If your actions kill someone, I don't think "oh gee I guess we messed up that time" cuts it. If my life is in your hands, I want you to be well aware that your life is also in your hands. Consider it a form of motivation to do the right thing, which you should have done anyway, but it seems too many people are prepared to shrug and keep socializing at work instead of doing their jobs.
    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:44PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:44PM (#53013)

      That would be criminal negligence at best. It's really not murder.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:12PM (#53017)

        really not murder

        You are far too forgiving.
        Depraved indifference [google.com]

        -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:22PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:22PM (#53021)

        Most definitions of that term have a clause at the end along the lines of "foreseeable outcome". Really, a freaking ignition switch is stacking up bodies like cordwood? I wouldn't believe it if there wasn't so much evidence, assuming it really is true. Is it true? Cars are full of parts that can kill people, but an ignition switch? I can see coverup, I can see damage control, but something this weird might have reached a WTF level preventing or slowing down organizational reaction. I mean, these guys are used to exploding gas tanks, suspension that flips the car, exploding tires, failed brakes, airbags that (intentionally?) decapitate passengers, electrical fires, and then you give them a ... ignition switch? WTF?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:21PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:21PM (#53032)

          What is so hard to believe about a car spontaneously shutting down at speed being a major safety problem?

          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:53PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:53PM (#53042)

            "What is so hard to believe about a car spontaneously shutting down at speed being a major safety problem?"

            LOL that was funny, tag that "#FirstWorldProblems" or whatever. Even worse "#RichDudeProblems"

            Back when I was a starving student, I was really dirt poor, if I had $20 for every time my first POS stalled out or the choke got stuck or it just plain old quit, I wouldn't have been driving a POS... City streets, freeway, stuck in the snow, you name it, it croaked all the time.

            It got to the point that I could SMOOTHLY shift from D to N, crank crank crank until it finally restarts, then shift back to D while still moving.

            I recall if I turned very hard left, there was something wrong with the carb float (yes I'm that old) such that the engine would flood and die, and the choke would either jam open or jam shut, which led to all kinds of fun keeping it running. And ignition trouble, something about pre-1990-ish cars where any time the humidity was above 90% it ran rough/died. It was the last mechanical distributor ignition car I ever drove...

            Yes I'm thinking this problem might skew a bit toward the cadillac and corvette crowd and not so much the rusted out Ford Galaxy crowd or rusted out Plymouth Horizon crowd. They were actually decent cars when they were working...

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:09PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:09PM (#53045)

              > Back when I was a starving student, I was really dirt poor, if I had $20 for every time my first POS stalled out

              Don't be a dolt. Trying to apply your personal anecdote is way off base - your luck does not translate into the loss of power steering, power brakes, belt tensioners and airbags being a safety neutral event.

            • (Score: 1) by jelizondo on Monday June 09 2014, @12:33AM

              by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 09 2014, @12:33AM (#53078) Journal

              I had the belt break on a new car. No power steering, no power brakes and I did manage to simply move to the right of the road and park it... At another time, in a narrow road I went into the shoulder to let another car pass me, I did not notice there was big rock on the way; hit it, lost a tire doing about 50 MPH (80 km/h), pumped the brake a little, coasted until I could safely stop and tada!, nothing happened.

              It is unfortunate that some people died from the failure of the switch, but one really should be able to deal with emergency conditions such a losing a tire, the belt breaking or a dead motor; if you can't, then you should not be driving.

              • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @12:41AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @12:41AM (#53080)

                > It is unfortunate that some people died from the failure of the switch, but one really should be able to deal with emergency conditions such a losing a tire, the belt breaking or a dead motor; if you can't, then you should not be driving.

                Wow, geeks really are narcissists. Your personal experience is the only experience that could possibly be valid. Nevermind the fact that your experience is pure luck - a minor change in circumstances beyond your control and you would not be here to brag about how anybody who died from this failure deserved it because their driving skills weren't up to snuff.

                • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday June 09 2014, @11:17AM

                  by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 09 2014, @11:17AM (#53183)

                  LOL how much is GM paying you to astroturf, and can I get in on the action?

                  The funny part is the "highly skilled driver" I'm talking about was your stereotypical inexperienced over confident reckless alcohol and drug experimenting adventurous teen boy. Not every kid gets a new Ferrari on their 16th birthday. Most kids... most peoples... first car is a falling apart POS because their poor. Oddly enough its not a problem for actual poor people, although people born on 3rd base think an engine failure must be like being over an ocean in a jetliner with all the engines out, seeing as the new porsche never broke down they have no idea what its like, LOL.

                  The funny thing is the supposed guaranteed fatality of lack of power steering or power brakes doesn't make sense. Another poster related pretty much the only way to get hurt while power steering fails, which is to pull down with one hand with one pound of force and then not react quickly when the steering goes and one pound of force changes your turn radius a bit. Happened to me a couple times and it wasn't a big deal. Power brakes are great in stop and go traffic for sheer exhaustion reasons not because its impossible to stop a car without them. Ditto power steering, sure makes parking at 1 MPH easy.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @11:50AM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @11:50AM (#53192)

                    > LOL how much is GM paying you to astroturf, and can I get in on the action?

                    Yes, GM is paying me to make sure everyone knows that GM is culpable for these deaths.
                    And the trial lawyers suing GM must be paying you to defend GM.

                    With that demonstration of your mental acuity I don't think anything else needs to be said.

                  • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday June 10 2014, @02:09AM

                    by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday June 10 2014, @02:09AM (#53523) Journal

                    Seriously. What do they teach these people? I took driver's ed in highschool and dealing with this sort of stuff was just part of the course. For example:

                    "Go to the top of the hill down to the reservoir. Get going, downhill at 40MPH. Stop the car before the 'road ends in 500 feet' sign without touching the brakes."

                    "We're going to simulate the engine stalling (by reaching over and turning the key) -- now restart the car on the highway without stopping."

                    "We're going to simulate a tire blowout (by reaching over and yanking the wheel) -- keep the car under control."

                    "We're gonna cut the engine again for a bit at speed, drive for a while without power steering."

                    Although...in at least some of these cases it appears that the problem wasn't so much that the engine died, but that the bad switch shut off the airbags. But failure to properly install a safety feature is sure as hell not murder. Presumably -- since I'm pretty sure airbags are federally mandated -- there should be some kind of penalty in that law which could be applied. So if you want to be strict about it, just consider every car sold with a faulty switch to have been sold without airbags and punish accordingly. But it's impossible to die because the airbags didn't deploy. You'd die because you fuckin' crashed the car, and the airbag failure would just be an unfortunate accident.

                    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 10 2014, @11:28AM

                      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 10 2014, @11:28AM (#53703)

                      In retrospect I did stuff like that in the 80s/90s unintentionally because I had a POS car, (the tire blowout was somewhat anticlimactic but it was much louder than I expected) but to properly train in 2014 you'd have to do all that plus browse SN on your phone while applying makeup and drinking coffee and changing the music CD and giving the baby a bottle all at the same time. And then blame the other guy when you hit them, of course.

                    • (Score: 2) by dry on Wednesday June 11 2014, @03:35AM

                      by dry (223) on Wednesday June 11 2014, @03:35AM (#54008) Journal

                      Did they really make you destroy your car in high school?

                      "Go to the top of the hill down to the reservoir. Get going, downhill at 40MPH. Stop the car before the 'road ends in 500 feet' sign without touching the brakes."

                      Going down a good hill at 40 MPH and stopping without touching the brakes involves a runaway lane or rubbing against something to stop. Gearing down only helps so much, even with turning the engine off.

                      "We're going to simulate the engine stalling (by reaching over and turning the key) -- now restart the car on the highway without stopping."

                      I blew the exhaust of of my car when ignition cut off then came back on, made a fuck of a bang too when all that gas in the exhaust ignited. (engine keeps turning over, operating the fuel pump and creating a vacuum which sucks gas from the carb into th engine and out the exhaust) Still it is pretty easy to smack the instructor and turn the key back on.

                      I hope they didn't do the "yank the steering wheel" trick on the freeway.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by dry on Monday June 09 2014, @04:52AM

                by dry (223) on Monday June 09 2014, @04:52AM (#53135) Journal

                I had a belt break while making a right turn, the only reason there wasn't an accident was due to no one else in the intersection, especially pedestrians since unexpectedly losing my power steering in a middle of a turn changed my turning radius by quite a bit. Doesn't matter how good of a driver you are, losing steering or a blowout at the wrong time can be deadly.
                I'm like you with the rest of my mechanical failures, really lucky they happened on nice straight stretches of road.

            • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @03:56PM

              by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @03:56PM (#53275) Homepage Journal

              You're lucky to be alive! I knew a kid with a Firebird with a huge engine. He hit the 17th car of a freight train at 96 mph. This poor kid had the worst day I ever heard of anyone having. First, he got laid off at work, then his girlfriend broke up with him, and his dad threw him out of the house an hour before he died. Of course, everyone thought it was a suicide.

              The accident investigators found that no, he didn't suicide. They determined that a motor mount broke, the engine twisted from the torque, pulling the throttle wide open. The poor kid didn't have a chance.

              --
              Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:08PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:08PM (#53279)

                Surely the gradual application of one foot-pound of force would have completely prevented the accident, he should never have been driving in the first place! Incompetent 'tard got what was comin to him.

              • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday June 10 2014, @02:23AM

                by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday June 10 2014, @02:23AM (#53530) Journal

                The accident investigators found that no, he didn't suicide. They determined that a motor mount broke, the engine twisted from the torque, pulling the throttle wide open. The poor kid didn't have a chance.

                Couldn't that have been averted by shifting to neutral and using the emergency brake? That's what we were always taught to do if the gas pedal jammed; I don't know much about cars but it sounds like this would be similar. Perhaps he didn't have time though...

          • (Score: 2) by Techwolf on Sunday June 08 2014, @11:14PM

            by Techwolf (87) on Sunday June 08 2014, @11:14PM (#53063)

            ^this. When I first heard about the switch problem. I didn't think at first that it would lead to death. I've had engine shutoff while driving before, usually on purpis, and was able to coast to a safe place to park. What >I(insert missing left arrow that slashcode is stripping out) did not relise was a lot of GM cars are marketed to older folks that can't steer the car manually and also did not know the air bags was disabled. So yes, it IS hard to believe a car shutting down is a major safety problem due to the way older cars operate vs. newer cars.

            • (Score: 1) by anubi on Monday June 09 2014, @05:59AM

              by anubi (2828) on Monday June 09 2014, @05:59AM (#53144) Journal
              Kinda offtopic, but everyone has to learn. I'll spill the beans this time.

              From your post, "What >I(insert missing left arrow that slashcode is stripping out)" ... a little friendly hint from another who had the same problem and needed a little HTML advice.

              Techwolf, that left arrow you refer too is what slashcode thinks is the start of an HTML tag; it will eat it and start looking for the HTML code for something. If you want slashcode to not see it as a tag starter, try this character string ... ampersand lt semicolon and ampersand gt semicolon. I will ecode it below...

              &lt; and &gt;

              Try it out. Cut and paste what you see in the ecode text below and preview it in a post window. You should see your "less than" and "greater than" symbols appear as text instead of being snared by slashcode's HTML parser. It should display as

              < and >

              ( I put the code between the ecode tags so it would not be parsed, so you got to see the raw code ).

              HTML is a pretty powerful thing. Its really hard not to fall in love with it. Whoever dreamed it up sure had a lot of insight.

              --
              "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
              • (Score: 2) by Techwolf on Monday June 09 2014, @05:59PM

                by Techwolf (87) on Monday June 09 2014, @05:59PM (#53335)

                Tried the & trick, didn't work for me. But then I probably didn't have the right format.

                "Whoever dreamed it up sure had a lot of insight." into how to exploit computers remotely. Even without all the plugins stuff, pure html can mess up the formatting of pages on public forums to hide opinions one does not like. Or just "griefting" the site.

                • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday June 10 2014, @03:17AM

                  by anubi (2828) on Tuesday June 10 2014, @03:17AM (#53554) Journal
                  Strange... you cut this:

                  &lt; and &gt;

                  Then opened a reply window as if you were going to reply to me, then pasted your cut in the reply window, and your preview didn't show it as:

                  < and >

                  And yes, I love HTML, but unfortunately it does have a few holes which should have been patched by rev2. Instead, it got worse as special interests shangai'd the protocols and insisted that special drivers, plug-ins, etc. were required to see content, and us dumb sheeple complied instead of simply clicking away. Gotta see that nekkid girl!

                  I was hoping to see HTML turn into something a bulletproof as a standard programmer's text editor. With all images, audio, and video complying to very tightly specified protocols - any deviants causing no more harm than what we used to see if we opened up a binary file or an executable in a text editor by mistake. Lots of unintelligible crap but no harm done.

                  Much to my disappointment, this did not happen. Instead what I get is a myriad of special-interest crap with the authors of it having Congress pass law to protect their rights to code what they may while holding it illegal for others to dissamble the code to see if it is hostile. To me this is akin to special interests lobbying Congress to pass law holding 6 point type to be legally binding, but making it illegal to view the contract under a magnifying glass.

                  Although this mess appears to be a computer problem, I feel the underlying cause is a Congressional problem, with Law-Makers and Special Interests taking precedence over the public interest. Congress has simply run amuck with the power given them by the people, and the people are not standing up to take it back. Actually, I think we have already passed the point of no return, where Government no longer represents the people, but instead is a puppet for their corporate masters.

                  --
                  "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Monday June 09 2014, @02:10AM

        by Dunbal (3515) on Monday June 09 2014, @02:10AM (#53103)

        If someone died it's manslaughter - culpable homicide. There are really only three types of death - natural, suicide and homicide. Accidents and trauma can fall into either suicide or homicide, usually not intentional. If you did it to yourself it's suicide. If someone else did it to you, it's homicide. Whether your death was caused by someone pulling the trigger of a gun or by a committee designing a faulty switch, if you didn't kill yourself and you didn't die naturally then someone else killed you.

        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday June 09 2014, @06:56AM

          by sjames (2882) on Monday June 09 2014, @06:56AM (#53149) Journal

          You're sitting on your front porch enjoying the clear blue sky. You are struck dead by lightning from an anvil cloud (the literal bolt from the blue people talk about). What shall we call it?

          Generally, accidental is recognized as a manner of death.

          • (Score: 1) by ksarka on Monday June 09 2014, @09:06AM

            by ksarka (2789) on Monday June 09 2014, @09:06AM (#53168)

            This is an example of textbook natural cause of death! You know, caused by nature!

        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday June 10 2014, @02:29AM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday June 10 2014, @02:29AM (#53532) Journal

          How, exactly, does a bad ignition switch on its own kill someone?

          TFS indicates it's related to airbags failing to deploy. But that's not the ignition switch killing anybody, that's a *car crash* killing someone. Failure to properly install an emergency safety system is NOT murder or manslaughter. Not even close.

          Could probably get them for selling a car without properly installing the airbags though. That's federal law, right? And you can potentially get that for every car sold with the fault switch, not just the ones that someone crashed into something.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by edIII on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:33PM

      by edIII (791) on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:33PM (#53023)

      You don't want murder charges, which would be negligent homicide at most. It would be fought in court for years since the bar to proving guilt in those instances is quite high. Go for the lower hanging fruit, which is better anyways.

      To be fair, this was probably an instance of mismanagement and miscommunication. The engineers literally never put it together that the faulty inferior spec'd switch was interfering with the operation of safety equipment. When you're not actually making a decision to make a million more dollars (at most from the savings) knowing that people will die, you don't really think that you're guilty and will go to prison. Executives so rarely go to prison anyways.

      What you want is real change. The best way to do that is to hit them where it really hurts. The shareholder meetings. When the government comes in and assesses all of GM a 5% fine over the next 3 years, it will create a situation in which it's impossible to lay blame and escape it.

      That's what you want. Executives to not be thinking about who could absorb the blame, but realizing that irrespective of any political hierarchies and department responsibilities in the corporation, that they are going to eat it *big time*.

      You want them to all suffer together, every single time. Think of it like that drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket. Don't punish Pvt. Pile, punish the whole platoon. Do so, and you create a real working series of deterrents where the mismanagement and willful ignorance are feared, not rewarded.

      Punish them all strongly enough, and they will watch each other. That has to be with money, as money will travel all the way up to the 1st Class Citizen, the Shareholder. Hurt the Shareholders enough, and there will be change.

      Sounds cynical, but this country is not run on ethics or ideals anymore. Those were set aside for the almighty dollar a long time ago...

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:56PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:56PM (#53059)

        If all the engineers were doing their job properly, it would have illuminated the fact that this was a safety issue. I've seen, first hand, how an issue can grow an aura of "touch this and commit career suicide" within a company. If the persons charged with corrective action, quality, etc. are asking the questions they are supposed to, to the people they are supposed to be asking them, and those people are giving it the thought they are paid to give it, then the fact that a faulty switch can lead to airbag failure should have shown up in the first round of meetings on the issue - and after a decade, there should have been multiple rounds of meetings.

        --
        My karma ran over your dogma.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by edIII on Sunday June 08 2014, @11:39PM

          by edIII (791) on Sunday June 08 2014, @11:39PM (#53068)

          touch this and commit career suicide

          That's what I'm talking about. Human behavior.

          Only in rare instances, mostly related to Big Pharma, do I actually believe that somebody was reasonably certain people were going to die and decided to do nothing about it. More than likely, they justify the deaths of a few to save many. Those people deserve to rot in prison for the rest of their lives with the entirety of the corporation sold with the proceeds distributed amongst the families of the deceased.

          You can switch the career suicide around real simply be assessing such a steep percentage based fine against a corporation. Would you want to be the one that cost GM a couple hundred million dollars over a few years? I'm pretty sure carrying around that label would be considered career suicide a lot more than the guy who spoke up and saved GM hundreds of millions of dollars by recommending a manufacturer recall.

          In both cases the real issue is one of money. That's why it's career suicide to recommend any action where the consequences of doing nothing are cheaper than the costs of doing something.

          Make the costs of doing nothing, lying, cheating, and harming the consumer be percentages (always), and in some cases let that go up to 90% of all profits. You do that and the mechanism you've seen can work for the consumer instead of against them.

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
          • (Score: 1) by Twike on Monday June 09 2014, @03:15AM

            by Twike (483) <lure@comiclisting.info> on Monday June 09 2014, @03:15AM (#53116)

            You may wish to look into Hollywood accounting principles and practices before suggesting "of all profits" instead of other metrics like "income before deductions" or something similar.

            • (Score: 2) by edIII on Monday June 09 2014, @04:15AM

              by edIII (791) on Monday June 09 2014, @04:15AM (#53130)

              Good point. This is why those people need fines like this ;)

              --
              Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @04:35PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @04:35PM (#53290) Homepage Journal

        The engineers literally never put it together that the faulty inferior spec'd switch was interfering with the operation of safety equipment.

        That's exactly what TFA says the investigations revealed.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @03:48PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @03:48PM (#53273) Homepage Journal

      I don't know if they still do, but USAF airplane mechanics and techs were required to ride in planes they fixed. And how many GM employees do you think are driving Fords?

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:13PM (#53007)

    A murderer kills his victim, dismembers the body, burying it, burning the evidence

    and then the news will say "The investigation showed the person responsible for the death made a series of mistakes"

    Unless moral mistakes are meant, of course.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by caseih on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:04PM

    by caseih (2744) on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:04PM (#53015)

    Probably going to lose karma for this... but while every death attributable to mechanical failure is a tragedy, it seems like the amount of outrage over this issue, both here and elsewhere in the media is quite out of proportion to what actually happened, and ultimately could make things much worse. Let's be realistic here, and appeal to math. 50 accidents in which this problem may have been a factor (remember it's not been proven in every case, simply suspected), and 13 deaths out of millions of vehicles is very near zero, despite the existence of this flaw for many years. Are these cars "dangerous" as the media is saying? Not according to the math and statistics. Should it be fixed? Yes. Should it have been fixed years ago? Yes. Should we put all GM execs in prison as punishment? I'm not so sure that's appropriate. In fact it's harmful.

    People talk about a corporate culture of denial. Well this doesn't happen in a vacuum. In large measure, it's our attempts to hold others responsible at *all costs* that contributes to this problem. See in days of yore when problem was identified, sometimes contributing to fatalities, a company would issue its recall and proceed. But now this push to punish companies, and even try to hold officers personally liable has created a regulatory environment where any revelation of problem or weakness is very bad for the company and its shareholders. In recent years the government has proceeded with fraud cases against auto companies over flaws in their vehicles, which was unprecedented. This does not help a company want to fix problems quickly. I believe this action (first used against Toyota) directly contributed to GM continuing to hide the knowledge of the flaw until the very end. Any recall issued is possibly subject to fraud prosecution. Hence there's no incentive for a company to acknowledge flaws until absolutely forced to. There's a regulatory line that has to be found, but so far the Department of Justice has erred in this. Mistakes have been made in the past and will be made in the future. We have to foster an environment where self-correction of mistakes is encouraged and rewarded. This does not do that. Appropriate regulation will always be needed of course.

    Taken a bit farther, if the current regulatory philosophies continue, and the Justice Department (and the popular media) clamor for more personal responsibility on the part of carmakers, it's just going to hamper innovation by new companies like Tesla and entrench older companies.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:30PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 08 2014, @08:30PM (#53022)

      I'm waiting for the tee shirt "I bailed out Government Motors and all I got was 13 lousy dead bodies"

      So, capitalism failed us (or at least privatize the gains / socialize the losses failed us) so we nationalized a car company at great effort and expense and now we are supposed to have Stalin like great leap forward dictatorship of the proletariat revolution, yes comrade? Oh WTF comrade we end up with CYA and dead bodies stacked everywhere, what are you Trotskyite counter-revolutionary, comrade? This BS never happened in the good old USSR, comrade, how could this be happening to our mighty workers here in the United Socialist States of America, comrade?

      A bit of expectation trouble.

      Now if Ford killed people and stacked bodies like cordwood, they'd get a bit of a pass because 1) historically they haven't killed as many people as GM and 2) they didn't get a taxpayer paid bailout so you can comprehend a bit of being cheap.

      Or if a couple people make some stuff up about Toyota thats OK because they're furriners and not white christians like us.

      The problem is the godless commies, err, uh christs soldiers of socialism bailed out GM and even then they can't get something simple right like a F-ing ignition switch.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by tftp on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:31PM

        by tftp (806) on Sunday June 08 2014, @10:31PM (#53051) Homepage

        So, capitalism failed us (or at least privatize the gains / socialize the losses failed us)

        On that subject, Soviet cars killed far more people, and nobody was ever prosecuted for that - not a manager, not a car factory. For example, some models of Volga GAZ-21 had a small sculpture of a deer on the hood (like in this photo [wikimedia.org]; here is another view [retrodetal.ru].). In collision with pedestrians this little deer, seemingly made out of light plastic, gutted them like a fish. I have never heard of any recalls, but this was talked about at driver's education classes; the ornaments were eventually discontinued for other reasons, but they are still sold as an upgrade kit.

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @04:49PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @04:49PM (#53296) Homepage Journal

        You fail to acknowledge that the "bailout" was a loan, and GM repaid the loan and the government sold its shares of GM stock. It's no longer Government Motors.

        Now if Ford killed people and stacked bodies like cordwood, they'd get a bit of a pass because 1) historically they haven't killed as many people as GM

        You don't know your history well, do you? Ford Pintos were rolling bombs, Ford knew it and kept it hidden. It would have cost them ten bucks per car to fix, but figured that it would be cheaper just to pay the victims' families. Then the same thing happened with the Crown Vic. Chevy had a similar problem with pickup trucks but recalled the cars after the first couple of people were immolated. Ford has killed a LOT more people than Chevy. And I doubt there is a single auto manufacturer who hasn't killed a few of their customers.

        Also, Ford was offered the same deal as GM was but refused the help and got back on their feet without it.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:01PM (#53029)

      it's our attempts to hold others responsible at *all costs* that contributes to this problem

      Bullshit.
      The GM engineer knew there was a problem and he covered it up.
      GM's system didn't review his work and didn't find the giant pile of irregularities.
      This chain of events is the result of an MBA's cost/benefit calculation, based on distorted values.

      In contrast, there is an all-volunteer project that produces better work with a greater sense of responsibility than the multi-$billion for-profit operation engaged in criminal activity.
      The reason for the excellence is that the head guy is a fanatic about quality [google.com] and the meme percolates down through the ranks.

      13 deaths out of millions of vehicles is very near zero

      You assign a low value to the lives of other humans.
      Maybe someone here knows the proper term for that kind of personality.
      Just how close to you would a tragedy have to be for you to feel empathy?

      ...and if a jury decided that the value of a human life was $27B, you can bet there would be a change of tune in the cost analysis of corporations.
      In case it's not obvious, I'm in favor of a corporate death penalty.

      --gewg_

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @09:27PM (#53035)

      > Let's be realistic here, and appeal to math. 50 accidents in which this problem may have been a factor

      More like 300 deaths, not just accidents, deaths. [hotair.com]
      The number of non-fatal accidents is certainly well above that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @02:14AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @02:14AM (#53106)

      You know what else is very near zero? Fucking ZERO!!

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 09 2014, @04:39PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @04:39PM (#53293) Homepage Journal

      The crime was that they deliberately hid the problem. The outcry wouldn't have been there if they had done a voluntary recall when they first discovered the problem.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]