BOSTON (CBS) – I continue to be fascinated – and repelled – by the saga of General Motors and the 13 customers who died because a decade ago, GM executives chose not to inform them of or recall and repair a potentially deadly engineering defect.
A congressional subcommittee will be hearing testimony Tuesday from brand-new GM CEO Mary Barra, who is frantically trying to do damage control on this horrific problem she inherited.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
But it’s hard to put much spin on the facts Barra is apologizing for, that the leaders of this huge corporation hid their problem with faulty switches that could shut down the airbags on certain vehicles.
Ms. Barra’s testimony today was released in advance, and it appropriately begs for forgiveness and promises to do the right thing going forward. Massive recalls are under way, and those, plus the still-hemhorraging damage to GM’s reputation, will surely cost the company billions, far more than it would have cost to do the right thing in the first place.
And this raises a question – how could this happen?
It’s the same question we all ask when we learn of supposedly smart people in powerful positions making choices that are not only craven, destructive and amoral, but profoundly stupid as well.
It’s the same question we asked about Richard Nixon, who – for you younger readers – was a president back in the 1970s who decided it was OK to use his position to obstruct justice.
More recently, we wondered about John Edwards, throwing family and credibility away for nothing.
But as those GM executives prove, the public sector doesn’t have the market cornered on amorality.
In fact, Nixon and Edwards at least, never had blood on their hands.
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