THE CAR COACH REPORTS:
September 30, 2016
So How Much Will This Cost Us? Edition
“Takata in talks to resolve allegations of criminal wrongdoing…” I can read English, so I know what it says, but how exactly does one resolve allegations of criminal wrongdoing?
Let’s call it what it is. Oh, it might be worth noting that a Honda in Malaysia reportedly had a fatal Takata airbag deployment. But I digress. What the talks to resolve these allegations of criminal misconduct really means is “how much is this going to cost us to make this go away or at least prevent corporate executives from going to jail.”
This is kind of a problem, customary to be sure, but a problem nonetheless and here is why: If I, an ordinary citizen, were to commit wire fraud (one of the charges that may be brought against Takata) I wouldn’t be in talks with prosecutors and regulators to resolve things. I might be incarcerated and the only resolution I would get is a trial by judge or by jury. And if I concealed facts or lied on the stand? Go ahead and add perjury and contempt to my charge list and add days or months to my sentence.
So why is there a separate justice system for corporate execs? According to the article, a monetary payment—I mean penalty—of undiscussed or unarranged size is definitely going to be a part of the resolution, though prosecutors are mindful of the financial woes Takata’s faulty airbags have caused the company. Oh, I’m sorry is your company going broke because you made faulty inflators and then lied covered it up and delayed reporting? Did I miss the part where I am supposed to care? If Takata execs are found criminally negligent they should pay the penalty for criminal negligence, not just a fee fine and a scout’s honor promise to abide by safety regulations and settlement requirements. Side note: this sounds a lot like the deals GM and Toyota execs got for their recall scandals.
My other question is for the government. Why does money make everything okay? This isn’t like ancient times where if someone kills my ox, they have to give me a new ox or give me the dollar value of the ox. In Takata’s case they made faulty products, knew the product was faulty, lied intentionally mislead for years and will get to pay the government and everything is square.And where does this “penalty” money go? Does the money paid to our government go in a fund for U.S. victims? Or does it go to pay for infrastructure?
But what do you think?
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Have you ever seen HBO’s Boardwalk Empire? In Season 1 Episode 1 Jimmy Darmody, returned from WWI, tells Nucky Thompson that he can’t be half a gangster when talking about the illicit booze trade that Prohibition will allow to blossom (the show opens on the eve of Prohibition).
This story: http://www.autoblog.com/2016/09/28/vw-patent-autonomous-technology-driver-control/ reminds me a lot of that moment. Volkswagen has a patent application for autonomous tech where the car asks for driver input when making decisions. The goal is to not cut the driver totally out of the driving equation.
Look, VW you can’t be half an autonomous vehicle maker.
But what do you think? Good idea or bad?
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Love Your Car! See you next week!