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Who Should Really Go To Jail Over the GM Recall Crisis

Michael Moore is understandably outraged over why GM execs are not facing criminal prosecution for their failure to recall cars with faulty parts that ultimately led to many fatalities and injuries.  But I’m not so sure criminal prosecution is justified here (or in any other similar cases), as this is just a symptom of the real problem, not the cause — which is quite nicely summed up by Moore himself:

The cause of this tragedy is an economic system that places profit above everything else, including — and especially — human life. GM has a legal and fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to make the biggest profits that it can. And if their top people crunch the numbers and can show that they will save more money by NOT fixing or replacing the part, then that is what they are going to goddam well do. F*** you, f*** me, and f*** everybody they sent to their deaths. That pretty much sums up their “culture”.

That’s exactly what I’ve said in almost those exact same words over and over.  And I just don’t see how criminal punishment of people who are doing exactly what they are supposed to do in our corporate, capitalistic society solves anything.  Rather the answer is a government that is big enough and strong enough to oversee corporations and make sure things like this don’t happen.  In this case, it was the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which should have prevented this from happening.  But alas, the Bush administration overruled them, and that’s where the real blame lies.  If you want to send people to jail, it’s the Bush corporate lackeys you should be after.  They are the ones that failed to do their job here, not the GM execs.

And this is the way it is in pretty much every case of corporate malfeasance.  One of the main purposes of government is to make sure that corporate greed (which is the foundation of capitalism) doesn’t harm people.  Don’t blame corporations for doing exactly what they are supposed to do — blame the government officials that are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.  And in turn, blame all the citizens who continue to elect politicians who do not support strong government oversight of business.  If you vote for officials that “want to shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub”, then YOU are the one that should be going to jail.