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.

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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 October 21, 2014 07:27 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's only one major economic report due today, but half a dozen U.S. companies are reporting quarterly financial results.

The National Association of Realtors releases its September report on existing home sales this morning.

Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Reynolds American and Verizon release their earnings before the market opens.

Discover Financial Services and Yahoo release their numbers after the market closes.

APPLE-IPHONE SALES

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Apple says it sold 39.3 million iPhones in the last quarter, or 16 percent more than a year ago, which is a record for the quarter. That's partly due to excitement over new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models that Apple began selling last month.

The surge in iPhone sales helped the company beat Wall Street's expectations for the three months that ended Sept. 27. Overall, the company's profit rose more than 12 percent from a year ago, to $8.5 billion. Total sales also rose more than 12 percent, to $42.1 billion.

While iPhone sales were up, Apple also sold 13 percent fewer iPad tablets than it did a year ago. That follows an industry-wide decline in tablet sales. But the company reported lower iPad sales than analysts had expected.

AIRLINES-FARE INCREASE

DALLAS (AP) -- U.S. airlines are raising base fares on many domestic flights even though they are getting a windfall from lower fuel prices.

Delta Air Lines raised fares on many U.S. routes by $4 per round last Thursday. FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seaney and J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker say other big airlines have matched them. Seaney says he's seen a few $6 and $10 increases, but mostly $4.

Delta has not responded for comment. United Airlines has confirmed matching the $4 increase. Seaney says American and Southwest also have raised prices.

UPS-RATES

ATLANTA (AP) -- UPS says it is raising rates for a number of its shipping services by an average of 4.9 percent for 2015.

The Atlanta-based company says it is increasing rates for its ground, air, international, UPS Freight, and UPS air freight rates within and between the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The increase goes into effect on Dec. 29.

UPS had previously announced some size-related pricing changes that will also take effect at the end of December.

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING (AP) -- China's economic growth waned to a five-year low of 7.3 percent last quarter, raising concerns of a spillover effect on the global economy but falling roughly in line with Chinese leaders' plans for a controlled slowdown.

The third quarter figures, released Tuesday, put China on course for annual growth somewhat lower than the 7.5 percent targeted by leaders, though they have indicated there is wiggle-room in their plan. The world's No. 2 economy grew 7.5 percent from a year earlier in the previous quarter and 7.4 percent in the first quarter.

Communist leaders are trying to steer China toward growth based on domestic consumption instead of over-reliance on trade and investment. But the slowdown comes with the risk of politically dangerous job losses and policymakers bolstered growth in the second quarter with mini-stimulus measures.

Employment, however, remained strong through the third quarter.

JAPAN-US-TRADE

TOKYO (AP) -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has urged Japan to be bolder in opening its markets to help reach a deal on a pan-Pacific trade agreement.

Pritzker, who is leading the Commerce Department's first trade mission to Japan in two decades, said U.S. and Japanese negotiators were closing the gap on trade in farm goods and vehicles but that there were still "tough issues" to work on.

She said the 12-nation trade pact, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could yield tens of billions of dollars a year in economic gains and increased exports for each side.

Executives from 20 U.S. companies, many of them leaders in medical and energy technologies, have joined the trade mission to Japan and South Korea. It is Pritzker's first visit to Asia as commerce secretary.

FANNIE-FREDDIE-MORTGAGE AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal regulator says government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have reached an agreement with major banks that could expand lending.

The head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, announced the deal Monday at a conference of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Las Vegas. FHFA Director Mel Watt says the deal clarifies conditions in which banks could be required to buy back mortgages they sell to Fannie and Freddie for misrepresenting the loans' risks.

Watt says the agreement in principle will help make more mortgage credit available without harming Fannie and Freddie's finances.

He adds that it's currently hard for banks to know whether they'll have to buy back loans. That can make banks skittish about lending to borrowers with less pristine credit.

DETROIT WATER SHUTOFFS

DETROIT (AP) -- United Nations human rights experts have called on Detroit officials to restore water to those unable to pay, including those with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Two experts visiting Detroit to observe the effect of water service shutoffs say they affect the poorest and most vulnerable. They say it discriminates against Detroit's majority black population.

Leilani Farha and Catarina de Albuquerque say water should be affordable, not free.

The city says about 27,000 shutoffs were made between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30.

Most shutoffs were halted for several weeks during the summer to give customers a chance to enter payment plans.

Groups opposing the shutoffs appealed to the U.N. for support.

LAY'S-NEW FLAVOR

NEW YORK (AP) -- America is saying no to cappuccino flavored potato chips, but yes to "Wasabi Ginger." "Wasabi Ginger" has won this year's Frito-Lay contest that gives people a chance to create a new flavor.

Bags of the four finalist flavors hit store shelves in late July, and people have been going on Facebook and Twitter to vote for their favorites.

Some taste-testers described cappuccino flavored chips as "NASTY" and "gross." The other two finalists were "Mango Salsa" and "Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese."

Registered nurse Meneko Spigner McBeth of Deptford, New Jersey, came up with the wasabi ginger flavor, and she'll be awarded $1 million or a portion of a year in sales, whichever figure is greater.

The "Do Us A Flavor" promotion was held in other countries too, including Saudi Arabia, which voted for "Pizza" flavor and Serbia, which made "Pickled Cucumber" Number 1.

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