What happened to the outrage?

Updated: Friday, April 11, 2014
What happened to the outrage? story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The world is still waiting for the internal report to put the finger on just why it took General Motors up to ten years to issue a recall for 2.5 million cars that may have fatally faulty ignition switches.

It's a problem the world's largest automaker more or less now concedes is to blame for at least 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

But for 10 years, GM simply sat on the problem.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, our Tom Van Howe wonders what in the world has happened to outrage.

=====================

Maybe we're just numb. But the last century was replete with people standing up and shouting about what they thought was wrong, unjust, unfair, and demanding action.

But not so much anymore. The voices of outrage have turned into whispers.

Maybe its because the new century began with the war in Iraq--as completely misguided vengeance for the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

We were told by experts there were no weapons of mass destruction there, and there weren't. The 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian...not Iraqi.

If one objected, that person was unpatriotic.

Then Afghanistan. Death, destruction, and torture--something we believed we didn't do.

Now we know that we did. Enthusiastically.

Then came the drones, raining death on both terrorists and wedding parties. We worry they'll be used on us to watch, listen, and record.

And why not worry? Credit the fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden for tipping us off on the incredible reach of the national security agency.

We live in a world where almost nothing is private.

We endlessly debate immigration reform in a Congress that accomplishes almost nothing. Its no wonder Congress has an approval rating of about 10 percent.

Meantime we're breaking up families on a daily basis--deporting record numbers of people back to Mexico.

We continue extolling our right to bear arms while gun violence continues haunting the streets of our cities.

We don't vote much anymore. In off-year elections roughly 15 percent of us make decisions for all the rest.

Big money is completely taking over the battle for free and equal speech. Its no longer free nor equal.

Wall street continues unregulated.  And while the way we pay for healthcare has people on the right apoplectic, no one talks much about the high-and-still-soaring cost of healthcare.

So maybe its just domestic battle fatigue that has people shrugging their shoulders about the way General Motors shirked a life-and-death responsibility for a full decade.

Executives in Detroit knew back in 2004 there was an ignition switch problem in Chevy Cobalts and HHR's, and in Pontiac G7s, Pursuits, and Solstices, and Saturn Ions and Skys.

They knew before and after their bankruptcy and the ensuing bailout that if the switches were jarred or if the key had too heavy a ring on it, it could malfunction and turn off the engine--leaving the driver without air brakes, power steering, or operable airbags.

Result? A documented 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

Consumer Reports says there have been more than 300 deaths in GM cars with undeployed air bags.

And none of it should have happened. None of it.
 
This is a company kept alive by the American people who in return were given a hand gesture.

Has it made me angry? Absolutely. I feel as though I've been had. Trouble is, I don't know what to do with my anger.

Ever since the Supreme Court said corporations are people too, its taken the wind out of my sails.

I want to shout at somebody. I want to punch somebody.

But neither option seems very effective against one of the largest corporations. And how do you punch a corporation anyway?

Maybe if I ignore it...it'll all just go away.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on July 27, 2015 17:07 GMT

DURABLE GOODS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods posted a sizable gain in June, reflecting a surge in demand for commercial aircraft. Meanwhile, a key category that reflects business investment rebounded after two months of declines.

The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods jumped 3.4 percent in June from May, when orders had fallen 2.1 percent. The gain was the best result since March.

A category viewed as a proxy for business investment plans increased 0.9 percent, then best showing since a 1.6 percent rise in March. This category had declined in April and May and has been weak for a number of months.

U.S. manufacturers have struggled this year from the effects of a strong dollar and a big plunge in energy prices.

FAST-FOOD WAGES

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York's Wage Board has finalized its recommendation to endorse a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers in chain restaurants.

The formal step by the three-member board is necessary before Gov. Andrew Cuomo's labor commissioner can approve the increase. The commissioner, who also could make modifications, will have 45 days to act on the recommendation once he receives it.

Cuomo, a Democrat, supports the proposal, so it's unlikely that Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino will make many big changes.

The wage increase would apply to fast-food workers in restaurants with 30 or more locations. It would be phased in over three years in New York City and six years elsewhere. The first phase of the increase would take effect on Dec. 31, when the minimum wage for affected workers would go from $8.75 to $10.50 in New York City and to $9.75 in other areas.

Franchise owners say the increase unfairly singles out their industry and will force them to raise menu prices, cut employee hours or even replace workers with automation.

MCGRAW HILL FINANCIAL-ACQUISITION

NEW YORK (AP) -- McGraw Hill Financial, owner of ratings agency Standard & Poor's, is buying SNL Financial for about $2.23 billion.

Privately held SNL Financial, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a provider of financial news, data and analysis.

McGraw Hill Financial President and CEO Douglas Peterson says in a written statement that the transaction will enhance existing offerings, help in developing new services and allow the company to expand into adjacent markets.

McGraw Hill Financial Inc., based in New York, says it expects approximately $70 million in savings to be realized by 2019.

The deal is targeted to close in the third quarter.

RESTAURANT BRANDS-EARNINGS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Burger King has gotten a boost from the return of its "Chicken Fries."

Parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. says sales rose 7.9 percent at Burger King locations in the U.S. and Canada during the second quarter. After taking Chicken Fries off the menu in 2012, Burger King had said last year it was bringing back the long, deep-fried piece of chicken as a limited-time offer in response to customer demands.

The campaign was so successful the company brought them back this year.

Restaurant Brands CEO Daniel Schwartz says Chicken Fries are also profitable because they have a high gross margin and restaurants sell a lot of them. They are positioned as a snack or meal and cost around $3.

OFFSHORE WIND

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Construction has begun off Rhode Island's coast on the nation's first offshore wind farm.

Deepwater Wind is building a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island. It hopes to power 17,000 homes as early as next year.

It began attaching the first of the steel foundations to the ocean floor Sunday. The first one touching the seabed is known in the industry as the "first steel in the water."

The foundations will rise about 70 feet above the waterline, about three miles off southeastern Block Island.

REPUBLIC AIRWAYS-DISRUPTIONS

UNDATED (AP) -- Republic Airways is warning the biggest U.S. airlines that the regional service it provides for them may be disrupted because of a pilot shortage and labor dispute.

The company says it's talking with the airlines about reducing their reliance on Republic planes through the first half of next year.

Shares of Republic Airways lost half of their value today.

The Indianapolis company disclosed late Friday that it faces possible disruptions in the service it provides for American, United, Delta and US Airways. The company says it's facing a pilot shortage because of rules that raised training requirements for new pilots and a standoff in contract talks with the Teamsters, which represents Republic pilots.

Shares of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. are $4.40, or 51.8 percent, to $4.10 in midday trading.

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESULTS

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Norfolk Southern's 23 percent drop in second-quarter profit follows the same story line as other railroads seeing a sharp decline in coal shipments.

Norfolk Southern posted $433 million net income, which is down from $562 million a year ago.

Its revenue decreased 11 percent to $2.71 billion because coal volume fell 21 percent and total volume declined 2 percent. That revenue figure was also more meager than expected.

Union Pacific and CSX railroads both cited similar challenges when they released results earlier this month.

But Edward Jones analyst Logan Purk says, "Norfolk clearly stands out as the worst of the bunch."

Purk says Norfolk Southern fared worse than its peers because it has more exposure to export coal and its fuel surcharge program has a bigger lag than other railroads.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement