Tag: General Motors

GM Settlement: Another DOJ Failure to Prosecute Executives

Once again the Department of Justice has failed to hold executives of a large corporation criminally accountable. This week General Motors agreed to pay $900 million and entered a deferred prosecution agreement to end a U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation into its handling of defective ignition switches in many of its vehicles. They have agreed to independent monitoring of their safety systems. If they adhere and their are no further violations, GM could have its record wiped clean. That’s hardly a satisfying agreement for the families of the 124 people who died in GM vehicles that the company knew were unsafe.

And even though General Motors will pay a $900 million penalty, it was 25 percent less than the record $1.2 billion Toyota agreed to pay last year.

“I don’t understand how they can basically buy their way out of it,” said Margie Beskau, whose daughter Amy Rademaker was killed in an October 2006 crash in Wisconsin. She added, “They knew what they were doing and they kept doing it.”

During the press conference US Attorney Preet Bharara defended the settlement and his satisfaction with the internal investigation that was conducted by a law firm with close ties to General Motors.

The two law firms hired for that inquiry, King & Spalding and Jenner & Block, had previously done legal work for G.M. And court papers show that Anton R. Valukas, the chairman of Jenner & Block, who headed the G.M. investigation, helped represent the automaker in its talks with the Justice Department.

Mr. Valukas declined to be interviewed, and several corporate lawyers said such arrangements are not unusual because an outside law firm that conducts an investigation knows the facts of a case. But Deborah L. Rhode, a professor at Stanford Law School, said the public’s interest may suffer when a law firm wears so many different hats.

“It would be nice to know that the law firm doing the internal investigation was truly disinterested and didn’t have an interest in subsequent representation” of the same company, Ms. Rhode said.

Needless to say the agreement has not satified the critics of the investigation. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) called it “extremely disappointing.” However, congress holds some responsibility in the inability to prosecute the auto makers:

As Danielle Ivory and Ben Protess reported at The Times in July, federal law sets a very high standard for pursuing a criminal case against people who knowingly withhold information about the risks products pose to human life. In auto cases, prosecutors have to prove corporate officers intended to defraud someone, something they do not have to do in food and pharmaceutical cases.

If it was not clear to Congress already that the law needs to change, this case should certainly make it clear. Serious safety problems in cars can be as deadly as contamination in food or drugs, and the law should treat them similarly.

G.M. used the defective switch in numerous cars and it has been linked to 124 deaths, according to compensation claims evaluated by a G.M. fund for victims administered by the lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The fund has determined that another 275 people deserve compensation for injuries.

This is just one more failure of the Obama Justice Department who are suppose to prosecute criminals.

US auto workers face historic struggle


For a good look at the upcoming auto worker contract cuts talks and how the UAW looks to continue the betrayal of the workers who provide its very reason for being, read this article.

(From the link.  ek)

US auto workers face historic struggle

Jerry White, wsws.org

8 September 2011

On September 14 the four-year labor agreements covering 114,000 US auto workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler expire. Although the companies have raked in more than $7 billion in profits this year, they have made it clear that workers-who have not had a raise since 2003-will see no improvements in wages or working conditions.

On the contrary, with the full backing of the Obama administration and the United Auto Workers (UAW), the auto executives are pressing ahead with plans to drive out the remaining better-paid workers and create a low-paid, casualized workforce.

Hummer Headed For A Marxist Doom?

I’m still absorbing the news that the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd, one of the giant industrial corporations that characterize present-day Chinese “socialism,” has purchased the Hummer brand from General Motors as the latter shuffles down the path blazed long ago by Studebaker and American Motors.

The Hummer is of course the vehicle sensible people love to hate: ugly, heavy, dangerous, gas-guzzling, polluting, military (in roughly the same sense as camouflage footsie pajamas) and a big fat macho fraud–the damn thing is built on a regular GM SUV chassis, just like a plain old Chevy Colorado.

The psychological makeup of Hummer purchasers has been looked into more deeply, most succinctly by Ruben Bolling, the crackerjack creator of the Tom the Dancing Bug comic. (Won’t embed for some reason–view his hysterical dis of Hummer owners here.]

I, however, have an even more theoretical speculation on the fate of the Hummer, based on the old Marxist precept that changes in people’s consciousness tend to trail changes in material conditions. Let me draw first a brief analogy-when I spent a little time in West Africa in the early ’80s, I met a couple of young guys, Komi and Kasimir, who were adherents of voudon (a/k/a voodoo). We talked about the belief system and they turned out to be followers of a particular fetiche or deity, which forbade them to eat anything cooked in a metal vessel or with metal utensils.

Kasimir and Komi told me of one the most dreaded of the voudon cults, whose fetiche was connected with smallpox, Its adherents would paint their faces white on sacred occasions and were feared for their ability to call disease down on enemies. Now this was only a decade since scientists and medical personnel had finally eradicated the disease in its last strongholds in Africa, so I asked if this group was still as feared as it had used to be. They both thought and said no, actually it was not as powerful and its fetiche not seen to be as deadly. Changes in consciousness trail changes in material conditions!

Back to the Hummer. The military’s HumVee was a star of the last substantial victory for the US military, Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 Gulf War. The Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the US felt uncontrollable lust and a civilian version was soon forthcoming, and became a GM product by 1998.

9/11-fueled war fever sent sales soaring even higher–for a while. But by early 2004 they were declining precipitously. I rather doubt that it was due to sudden environmental concerns among its target audience. I think what happened is that fairly early in the occupation of Iraq, it became clear that this mighty war wagon could be taken out by a couple of Baghdad teenagers with a big artillery round and a garage door opener. Whether people thought about it consciously or not, IEDs had taken the bloom off the rose.

I don’t know what Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company management is thinking. I can’t see a big Hummer comeback in the US and the contribution they’d make to China’s already horrific pollution boggles the mind. Indications are they plan to market these vehicular plug-uglies more heavily in developing nation markets. I can only say I hope they take a richly deserved bath on this venture.

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

Auto Industry: Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Be Privately Owned

Richard Wolff, American Economist well-known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology and class analysis, Yale University Ph.D. in Economics, and Professor at The New School University in New York City, talks with Real News CEO Paul Jay about the reform needed to pull the United States out of economic crisis.

“If we say something is too important to let it die, too big to fail, then we’re saying it’s so important to the society as a whole, but if it’s that important, it can’t be in the hands of a few people in the first place. If you’re too big to fail, your too big to be in private hands.” He goes on to suggest that if there is chaos in the US economy, the rest of the world will have chaos as well. “We have an unknown situation, the outcome of which could be very bad, we actually have a vision of that already, Mexico, it’s a society in free fall.”

Real News Network – May 2, 2009

Too big to fail, too big to be privately owned

Auto industry affects the whole society, it’s too significant for private ownership

Selling of America


“People who are my age have no idea what they are going to do,” Suter said, trying to angle a workbench into his trailer. “How they are going to live on $12 an hour without benefits when we’re used to $29 with benefits? You can’t make an economy on cleaning somebody else’s shirts or selling mutual funds. What are towns like Ypsilanti going to do?”

Ypsilanti is not the most besieged city in Michigan, but is an auto town, and its problems mirror those of the larger industrial Midwest. Just four square miles and 35 miles west of Detroit, it has lost more than 25 percent of its population since 1970. Schools have closed, as did its two other auto-related plants. Outside the Visteon plant, located on Factory Street in Ypsilanti alongside Interstate 94 and Ford Lake, the building that housed the UAW Local 849 is for sale. –snip–  

Obama forces Wagoner Out..Contracts only matter when they belong to WS

Apparently contracts and sacrifice from the people receiving taxpayer money are only off limits when it applies to Wall Street.

I have no clue if Wagoner was good or bad or should have or haven’t stayed.  What I am totally pissed at is the double standard.  I won’t detail it, we’ve all been living and paying for this administration’s double standards.  When it comes to Wall Street or bringing justice to war criminals and profiteers, they would rather “look forward”.  When it comes to bailing out Americans, whether it is their jobs or their homes, it is time to right the wrongs and make sacrifices for America.  

also posted

More/Detroit News.

In bid for loans, Detroit auto makers outline plans for drastic downsizing

Original article, by Jerry White, via World Socialist Web Site:

The CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three auto companies are appearing before the Senate Banking Committee today to present plans for the restructuring of the US auto industry as they seek federal loans to avert bankruptcy. The plans involve the destruction of the jobs and living standards of tens of thousands of auto workers and factory closures that will devastate communities across the country.

Obama’s jobs plan: A band-aid for an economic catastrophe

Original article, by Patrick Martin, via World Socialist Web Site:

The economic plan announced Saturday by President-Elect Barack Obama, with the goal of “saving or creating” 2.5 million jobs in 2009 and 2010, is a measure that has already been outstripped by events. The deepening crisis of American and world capitalism could destroy that many US jobs in the next six to nine months alone.

The elites’ pathetic props for the current system

This diary is about the G20 summit and the economy, but really it’s about the larger implications of a society which cannot let go of its status quo assumptions in time to save itself.  Here’s the false dilemma: either the current system must be saved, or the current system will fail.  The idea that we could switch over to another system, through a set of radical changes, cannot even insinuate itself into the conversation, outside of (perhaps) a marginal section of the blogosphere.  Yet this is what the world most needs.  In light of this, I recommend that we (bloggers) attempt to overcome resistance to some basic premises of thinking about the current situation.

(crossposted at Big Orange)