Capitalism has a glaring flaw that in this day and age is nearly impossible to overcome: individual and collective greed. The United States is dominated by mega businesses that affect nearly every aspect of people’s everyday lives. Most of these companies are for-profit entities whose main goal is turning a profit. Sometimes the need to turn a profit or a higher profit creates situations where people have to choose between doing the right thing and the most cost effective thing. Unfortunately, many of the people who work for GM chose profits over people, which resulted in many being hurt.
The giant auto-maker GM is still wading through murky waters of its own creation as the number of people who died or were injured by a faulty ignition switch continues to grow. The problem originated when people at GM learned of a defect in the ignition switch that caused the car to not only stall but also prevent the air bag from deploying. Rather than issue a recall on the affected vehicles, GM hid the problem for nearly a decade. During the time that GM hid the problem, hundreds, if not thousands, of people were killed or injured in car accidents attributable to the faulty switch.
As part of the process of addressing the injuries caused by the defect, a fund has been created to compensate victims. The fund, which will accept claims from August 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014, has already received nearly 700 claims of death or injury possibly related to the recalled part. The awards range from at least $1 million for cases of fatalities, to thousand or hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-fatal incidents.
When the only standard of success is profits, there will always be a toll on humans. A civil judgment is one of the more effective methods of reminding companies that humans matter and money can be taken as easily as it was made.
Source: Fox News, “21 deaths now tied to GM defect,” CNN wire, Sept. 22, 2014