Top brass base salaries on responsibility and then take none (responsibility that is) …

April 10, 2014

Why is it that CEOs justify their gargantuan salaries (millions,billions) in part by the heavy burden of responsibility and liability they shoulder but when the you-know-what hits the fan they feign ignorance as a defense and find scapegoats?

It seems like that might be what is happening at GM over the faulty ignition switch that has reportedly led to deaths and injury. GM has announced the suspension (with pay) of two engineers. The corporation has not disclosed anything specific other than that and has not even named them. It says an investigation is ongoing.

What we do know is that GM top brass (not just possibly two engineers) knew about the ignition switch problem for more than a decade but decided it would be too costly to do anything about it, that is until incriminating evidence was found by a lawyer suing them. Government safety agencies had failed to notice anything amiss. But now GM is involved in a massive recall.

As I read it, the failure of the ignition switch led to air bags not deploying in crashes. GM had not warned customers of the problem.

First of all it seems apparent that the leadership of GM knew about the problem and in fact impossible that it did not.

Second of all captains get blamed for things that happen on their ship whether they knew about them or not because it is their job to know.

The current CEO, Mary T. Barra, cannot hide behind the claim well she was not on the job when it all took place — she assumed command and now she must deal with the problem. She tried to talk around it and white wash the whole thing before a congressional hearing but then her interrogators failed to back down and she changed her tone a little.

And here is a little aside here: on one right-wing talk show I sometimes catch I found the host and some of his callers down on GM. Usually you would not hear them be against corporate America and an American car maker at that. But then I got the idea they were digging at GM because of the fact that it got such a bailout from the taxpayers. And I think I am correct in saying that the bailout was pushed by primarily Democrats trying to save union jobs. We know that the right wing detests unions (even if some or many right wing-nuts at the working man level are union members).

But politics aside, it seems to me GM has made an egregious and criminal (criminal at least in scale) safety error. I certainly would pause before buying a GM product.

On the other hand, Japanese auto maker Toyota has just announced a massive recall. Seems like that company is at least trying to get ahead of the game seeing what happened to GM.

I’m all for American made products. But our American companies have to act responsibly. And we need leaders both on the political level and corporate level with morals. Why does money always seem to get in the way of all that?



And of course we know that the governmental agencies that are supposed to be a watchdog on safety and consumer interests often have an incestuous relationship with those they regulate, due to the revolving door between government and corporate jobs. You really should not even be allowed to have a government oversight job if you have worked for those of whom you are to have oversight over.