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Still Unsafe At Any Speed

« April 2014 »

Memo to the anti-regulation crowd: YOU LIKE MURDER FOR PROFIT.

While the specifics and details of the latest GM recall are still waiting to be discovered, the whole sorry tale does illuminate three basic truths of life in modern-day corporatist America:

First, given the choice between spending a million dollars or letting you die, corporations will almost always keep the million dollars. Second, the only thing stopping them from letting you die is the government, who establishes rules saying they can't. And third, the government is doing a very bad job at making and enforcing those rules, because most of the people in it get a cut of that million dollars for letting you die.

What we know about the GM thing so far is that a bunch of people at GM have known for almost a decade that a 57-cent piece they put in a bunch of their cars in the mid-2000s was too small, and would cause the ignition to cut out, killing the power steering, killing the airbags, and killing at least 13 people.

They fixed the part secretly in 2006, but didn't change the part number as is industry standards. Opponents of GM say it was done to cover up the defect. GM says they don't know why it was done that way. So I think we all know why it was done that way.

And they got away with it. For going on eight years now. Through a bankruptcy proceeding and a change in management and a change in presidential administrations that, from a pro-business standpoint, wasn't much of a change at all.

They got away with it because nobody was stopping them from getting away with it. That's how self-regulation works. Self-regulation means they'll kill as many people as they want to save as much money as they can until they get in trouble somehow, at which point they take the small PR hint and fine that together will cost them much less than they saved.

It's not just GM. Remember "pink slime"? The processed meat product everyone swore they'd stopped using once the media showed us all how gross it was? It's been two years. How do you know you're not eating it again? The company that makes it is still trying to sue ABC News for defamation, by the way. It's not illegal. The only way you know is if companies say they're not using it, and not only do you have to believe them, they'll only say it when someone notices them using it.

And they're making it illegal to notice they're using it. Well, not it exactly. But half a dozen states have passes so-called "ag gag" laws that make it illegal to take pictures or video of a farm, which means it's illegal to document practices at factory farms that, if exposed, would themselves be illegal. For another example, see all the news coming from the release of Michael Lewis' book on high-frequency trading.

They will fuck you over, feed you shit, or steal your money to make a buck unless someone stops them, and not only is nobody stopping them, many of the people who should be stopping them are actively working to make it more difficult to stop them.

Unless you run an abortion clinic, in which case, they will stop you from doing anything on the grounds of stopping you from doing some unspecified wrong that only incredibly onerous rules could possibly fix. Everyone else can just self-regulate.

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