Last week’s entertainment:

General Motors. Oh General Motors.

general motors recall

On Tuesday, General Motors announced the recall of (yet) another 2.6 million vehicles globally. Some figures:

  • That’s the 29th time that GM has recalled vehicles this year.
  • The total number of cars recalled by GM in 2014 is now sitting at about 15.6 million.
  • In 2013, GM sold 9.7 million vehicles.
  • In numerical terms, they’ve recalled every single Chevrolet, Buick, Opel, Cadillac and Vauxhall sold in the last 18 months. And then some.

This follows on from a week where GM agreed to pay a $35 million fine to the government for knowing about some of the defects since 2004 and, instead of doing anything about it, just letting people die*. To put that number into perspective: General Motors made $3.8 billion last year in profits for its stockholders. Or $10.4 million a day, including weekends.
*as a sidenote, not entirely sure why the government is getting the money? Especially as it owned GM between 2009 and December 2013…

Allow me to transcribe that $35 million fine into text:

“Oh you naughty safety managers and now-retired executives for letting people die. We’re going to punish you by making the pension-funds-that-bought-shares-from-us-five-months-ago sacrifice their earnings between 8am today and lunchtime on Thursday. And let that be a lesson to you. Knaves.”

In what other environment would you punish the current owner for what the previous owner’s minion did?

If they’re intent on making an example, then they should find those GM executives that let it slide, and find the safety controllers that allowed the cars to exit the production line, and charge them with manslaughter. Because that’s an appropriate matching of punishment and crime.

What the current “punishment” does is heavily incentivise new management to cover up old management’s mistakes in order to avoid being held accountable for something that they weren’t part of.

In other news, here’s a highly entertaining list of words that the 2008 GM management asked their employees to avoid using in company memos. Phrases like “rolling sarcophagus*”, “disembowelling” and “Hindenburg”. Also: “words or phrases with a biblical connotation”.
*or tomb or coffin.

It seems that GM was concerned with being incriminated by internal memos that made them sound bad. So they addressed the issue by documenting an internal presentation of words that make internal memos incriminating.

How’s that for a logical leap?