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 September 04, 2015 18:06 GMT

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The unemployment rate tumbled to a seven-year low in August as employers added a modest 173,000 jobs, complicating the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision whether to raise rates in two weeks.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, the lowest since April 2008.

Hiring in August was the weakest in five months, but the government revised up the June and July figures by a combined 44,000 jobs. The economy generated 221,000 jobs a month from June through August, up from an average 189,000 in March through May.

Steady hiring could encourage the Fed to raise rates for the first time in a decade. Still, stock market turbulence, a persistently low inflation rate and a sharp slowdown in China could weigh on officials.

LABOR DAY GASOLINE PRICES

CHICAGO (AP) -- For the first time in a decade, the average price for a gallon of gas is below $2.50 for the final summer getaway of the season.

Patrick DeHaan, who's a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, says the national average is $2.42 a gallon. That's 20 cents lower than a month ago and about a dollar less than a year ago.

DeHaan adds that gas prices could be under $2.00 a gallon by Christmas, with GasBuddy.com predicting a nationwide average of $1.98 a gallon.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN (AP) -- German factory orders dropped a larger than expected 1.4 percent in July compared to the previous month, dragged down by flagging foreign demand.

The Federal Statistical Office reported Friday that it revised June's 2 percent increase downward to a rise of 1.8 percent, adjusted for seasonal and calendar factors.

In July, domestic orders increased by 4.1 percent but foreign orders decreased 5.2 percent. New orders from the euro currency area were up 2.2 percent, but new orders from other countries dropped 9.5 percent.

UniCredit economist Andreas Rees says the July drop, greater than the 0.6 percent drop predicted by analysts, seems more of a "technical breather after a strong rally" than a matter for concern.

Rees says the strong rises in both eurozone and domestic demand are "outright positive details."

USDA PROMOTIONAL PROGRAMS-CONTROVERSY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department says it is looking into documents that show that an egg industry organization under government oversight tried to harm sales of an imitation mayonnaise.

According to email documents provided to The Associated Press, the American Egg Board tried to prevent Whole Foods retailers from selling Hampton Creek's eggless Just Mayo spread.

The egg board is one of many industry promotional boards overseen by USDA but paid for by the industries themselves. By law, the boards cannot disparage other commodities.

A USDA spokesman said the department is looking into the documents but declined to say if it would take action.

The egg industry board is only the latest to draw scrutiny. In 2012, USDA's inspector general issued a report saying department needed to improve oversight of the programs.

FLORIDA TIMBER BOOM

LIVE OAK, Fla. (AP) -- The demand for pine, pulp and other timber products is on the rise and that is good sign for much of north Florida and for other timber-producing regions of the southeastern United States.

Dozens of lumber mills and pine straw, bark and wood pellet processing plants have located in north Florida in recent years. Industry experts say the region's warm, moist climate and soil composition allow pine trees to thrive.

Lumber supply issues in the American northwest and in Canada have prompted companies to look to the Southeast. Issues with wood boring beetles and restrictions on cutting timber in federal land have contributing to the supply issues in the northwest and Canada.

Among those banking on Florida's timber is industry is the Austrian company Klausner, which recently opened a $100 million mill in Live Oak.

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EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) -- Toyota is investing $50 million with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in hopes of gaining an edge in an accelerating race to phase out human drivers.

The financial commitment announced Friday will be made over the next five years at joint research centers at the schools located in Silicon Valley and another technology hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Toyota has hired robotics expert Gill Pratt to oversee research aimed at developing artificial intelligence and other innovations that will enable future car models to navigate the roads without people doing all the steering and stopping.

Major tech companies such as Google and Uber are competing against a range of automakers to make robot cars that will be better drivers than people and save lives by causing fewer accidents.

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