Thursday, August 11, 2016

"Have you no sense of decency?"

Here is the Malcolm Gladwell podcast re Toyota's "sudden acceleration" problem. Listen to all of Episode 8. Here is Gladwell's abstract:
In the summer and fall of 2009, hundreds of Toyota owners came forward with an alarming allegation: Their cars were suddenly and uncontrollably accelerating. Toyota was forced to recall 10 million vehicles, pay a fine of more than $1 billion, and settle countless lawsuits. The consensus was that there was something badly wrong with the world’s most popular cars. Except that there wasn’t.
Politician-lawyer-media frenzy are almost inevitable when a "big corporation" can be blamed. Most of the rest of us are happy that Toyota manufactures and sells great product -- and we prove it with our purchases of the company's product year after year.

Some years ago, I had occasion to work with then-East-bloc colleagues. It was best to tippy-toe around all sorts of issues and episodes that might embarrass them. When there was embarrassment, they would shrug and smile and simply say "that's politics." Move on. Nothing can be done.

I am happy to live in a better place. But "that's politics" also comes across in Gladwell's piece. Two cabinet secretaries are shown to be part of the extortion mob. And we now have an "historic" nominee for president who lies until the paint peals. But the toadies still cheer. "Have you no sense of decency?" was once a powerful statement. Directed at either major party candidate, it would be (sadly) laughable today.