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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/14/14

Murder is Murder

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It was in Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. when I saw the first sign which read, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one." Corporations are legal people and board members can be held responsible for the criminal acts of the corporation, so why not execute them?

General Motors as early as 2005 began receiving reports of drivers losing control of vehicles and of air bags failing to deploy in crashes. GM engineers immediately identified a litany of possible causes, all of them not GM's responsibility. As early as 2004, GM engineers had found a problem with the ignition switch location on the Chevy Cobalt, citing it could be switched off with the bump of a careless knee. GM engineers had decided against relocating the switch due to "cost and long lead times."

The defects assessment division of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration e-mailed the office of defects in 2007, citing owner complaints beginning in 2005, plus a pattern of warranty repairs and injuries as grounds for an official investigation.

GM responded, Problem? What Problem? What are you talking about? GM claimed to have no evidence of a defect, while company engineers had been working on the issue for over two years. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration declined to open an investigation, but revisited the issue in 2010. In May of 2009, a Chevrolet Cobalt was involved in a fatal crash, where the air bags had failed to deploy. Once again, the government and the company agreed to review their data and nothing was done. But here is some data worth reviewing; GM had approved this ignition switch for production in 2002, despite the switch failing to meet company specifications.

Meanwhile, beside the individual claims, GM also began receiving requests for an investigation from rental car companies. An Alamo claims adjuster wrote to GM in 2006, after a fatal accident involving a Chevy Cobalt. From the police report: "the sedan drifted across lanes, got caught in a gravel median and rolled over. The seat belt was buckled. The air bag didn't deploy. The driver was killed." GM reported the accident to the NHTSA with the assessment that there may not be sufficient information to assign cause to the crash.

The Chevy Cobalt is "drive-by-wire" vehicle, meaning there is no mechanical connection between steering wheel and the front wheels. When the ignition switch fails or is bumped, you effectively have no control over the car and no air bag protection to boot.

There have been 31 fatalities directly related to a defective ignition switch which did not meet specs, before the first one was ever installed. At the very least, it's voluntary manslaughter. Given GM's paper trail of dodges and subterfuges, suggesting the problem was driver's heavy key rings or rental customers unfamiliar with the vehicle, it's nothing less than first degree murder. A corporation making decisions in its chain of command, which if followed, would result in the unnecessary death and injury of countless consumers.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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