Scene: Continuation of conversation between Jordan and JC, a long-time friend.  Conversation centers on themes for government policies following Revenge Revolution.  Jordan and JC have agreed to a deadline of this evening to complete the work.  When finished, Jordan will schedule a review with POTUS.  Conversation begins Entry #131.

Background: JC and Jordan concluded that the standard measure for future government policies should be ‘treat thy neighbor as thyself.’  They also agreed to assess whether the standard is appropriate for corporate policy.  Disney was the first case.  GM the second case.”

JC:  “Ok, Jordan, now that I have beaten up Disney, I have a question for you.”

Jordan:  “Shoot.”

010414_1635_16TeachingS1.jpgJC:  “What about the behavior of your old employer.  I mean, General Motors really screwed up with that ignition switch failure.  Did they treat thy neighbor as thyself?  What do you think happened?”

Jordan:  “Your right, the General made some major mistakes, starting with a poorly designed ignition switch.  How that design passed any kind of durability testing is beyond me.”

JC:  “But what about those indictments?  US Justice Department found criminal wrongdoing…and some charges about wire fraud, which I did not understand.”  (Articles 15 05 22 NYT Justice Dept Finds Criminal Wrongdoing at GM, 15 06 10 US Weighs Charges Against GM)

TurtleneckJordan:  “The wire fraud charges…charges, not convictions…in my view were a circuitous way to bring criminal charges.  And more problematic.”

JC:  “OK, what about the cover-up of bad engineering?”

Jordan:  “Look, I have no inside knowledge of any of what happened – call it Ignitiongate.  I agree GM is at fault for the ignition switch that failed, but…”

JC:  “…but what else is there to the story?  GM releases a poorly designed switch and there’s a bunch of accidents and some people die.  What else is there?  Doesn’t GM deserve the one-fingered salute for bad behavior?”

Jordan:  “Probably…but I think there is more to the story.  If you can sit still for a few minutes, I want to walk you through some other issues that seem to have gotten little attention.”

Used Car royalty-free-car-salesman-clipart-illustration-443283JC:  “I’ll sit here as long as you don’t sound like some PR blowhard.  By the way, what makes you an expert?”

Jordan:  “You know I’m not an expert.  But I did spend a lot of time in product development and spend a lot of time dealing with dealers and customer issues.  Aside from that background, there seems to be a lot of common sense that has been overlooked.”

JC:  “OK, big boy, start your spiel.”

Jordan:  “You might not like my comments but here goes.  Yes, GM is at fault.  There is little question that the ignition switch failed.  And the failure rendered inoperative the power assist for steering and braking and the airbags.  But, my question, ‘Was GM entirely at fault?’”

JC:  “Isn’t that a rather harsh statement?  The driver’s didn’t doing anything wrong?  So all the fault has to lie with GM.”

steering_wheel_aJordan:  “I said GM was at fault for the poor design.  But I also think part of the fault lies elsewhere.  And here’s why I say that.  First some facts about the vehicle.  #1, power steering is not necessary to steer the car effectively, especially at higher speeds.  If the power assist for steering fails, you can still drive the car safely.  Takes a bit more effort but not much.  Power steering is mostly for parking.”

JC:  “Haven’t thought about that for a long time.  But I remember my dad had cars without any power steering.  My mom drove the cars…and she was no weightlifter.  She didn’t like to parallel park those cars but how many people do.  Next item.”

brake-2Jordan:  “#2, same type issue.  Power-assisted brakes are not necessary to slow or stop the car.  Without power assist, the stopping distance likely will increase but you can still stop the car.  Granted it takes more pressure on the pedal but brakes still function.  Besides stopping distance is not just brakes alone.  Other key factors are (a) vehicle speed; (b) driver reaction time; (c) road conditions; (d) amount of tread on the tires.  Remember your physics class?  Braking is a physics problem with several variables…and driver behavior being one of the most important.”

physics classJC:  “Physics class?  Yes, braking really overcomes the kinetic energy of the car.  And the formula for kinetic energy is…ok brain, dig deep…the formula, kinetic energy equals mass, or one-half mass times velocity?”

Jordan:  “You’re close.  I’m impressed.  Kinetic energy equals ½ mass times velocity squared.”

JC:  “I forgot about the squared part.  When you double miles per hour of the car, kinetic energy increases four times.  So speed is a big factor.”

Jordan:  “Along with driver reaction time.  In one second, a car going 60 mph travels 88 feet.  Two seconds, 176 feet.  That’s more than one-half a football field in just two seconds.”

figure-thinking-hiJC:  “Yikes.  Any kind of hesitation deciding what to do makes a huge difference.”

Jordan:  “Which leads to my third point, safety standards.  Cars and light trucks are subject to a plethora of safety standards.”

JC:  “What’s that mean?”

Jordan:  “It means that the front occupants must be able to withstand a frontal crash up to about 30 mph without serious injury.”

JC:  “Is what airbags are for?”

Jordan:  “Airbags are considered supplemental restraints.   You still have to wear your seatbelt.”

seat_belt_required_signJC:  “What if you don’t wear a seatbelt?  The airbag should give you enough protection, right?”

Jordan:  “No, you need the seatbelt.  You can skip the airbag but you can’t skip wearing a seatbelt.”

JC:  “I always wear my seatbelt but I thought the airbag was the key.”

Jordan: “Despite laws about using seatbelts, too many people think that way.  A seatbelt is more important than an airbag. Is that clear?”

JC: “I got it, already.  A seatbelt provides lots of protection even if the airbag doesn’t work.”

Jordan:  “Yes.”

GM,_logoJC:  “Now, where does leave us?  We still need to talk about who’s to blame?”

Jordan:  “We already know GM is at fault.  But let’s list some other candidates of where the fault might lie.”

JC:  “OK…but after we take a break.  Too much coffee.”


More about the origination of the blog and the author, Entry #1.

Ebook format of recent series of entries on Federal Budget.  15 05 23 Do They Really Understand Entries #121-#130