How GM silenced its whistleblowers


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Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.
Woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
Narrator: You wouldn’t believe.
Woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?
Narrator: A major one.


We spent a few weeks on whistleblowing in an ethics class I took in college (required for my CS degree). The professor teaching that unit – who had some experience as a whistleblower himself, having reported his previous employer for attempting to sell unsafe medical equipment – advised us to always use E-Mail or some other medium that leaves a record, but also that doing so will immediately enrage management.

Or they’ll respond to your email verbally.

So does anyone want to make fun of me for thinking major corporations are basically sociopaths? This would be the perfect thread to make your point that large corporations are good citizens.

While I agree that this is yet another example of major corporations displaying sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies, what I find more interesting is the sheer scale of apathy displayed throughout the entire corporation, with the vast majority of vigor being displayed by those trying to prevent recalls and etc. Lots of questions were asked, but little follow through.

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It’d make you a member of the zeitgeist


Can I make fun of you and still agree? :wink:

But seriously, I’ll buy into the good corporate citizen argument when the the bad corporate citizens start going to jail.


If they were consciously hearkening back to the Esquire cover, why didn’t they use Bodoni?

I wonder how we could construct a corporate prison for this.

I mean, real people go to prisons, how could we send a company to prison?

Since we can’t necessarily confine them (since they’re pieces of paper formed in such a way to look human)

Would we, say:

  • reduce their monitors to only 14" VGA size
  • replace their business cell phones with clunky 90’s phones
  • replace the office furniture with stools
  • remove (or put up) cubicle deviders and lock private offices
  • change work attire to require orange ties and orange shoes (patent leather still)
  • limit office hours to Saturday from 9am - 3pm

That would certainly be fun!

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