Saturday, March 23, 2019

Our lives are expendable

No matter the consequences, Boeing, were trying to cut costs and maximize profits. The Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air  plane crashes had one thing in common - both doomed planes lacked safety features linked to why the pilots were unable to recover from erratic dips after takeoff. In another related incident with another aircraft, an off-duty pilot jumped in to help the flying crew to disable a malfunctioning flight-control system as it experienced difficulties and avoided yet another disaster.

Those safety features, rather than being built in as standard, were charged as extras by Boeing. When accessories are sold as discretionary add-on features, buyers seldom believe that they are vital components for their safety. How wrong that assumption is proving to be.

Last year Boeing spent more than $15 million on its lobbying efforts and has 31 in-house lobbyists and 16 lobbying firms on retainer. It has spent millions on political campaigns for lawmakers from both parties, ensuring bipartisan allegiance.

The recent airline crashes have finally made apparent how the company’s drive for profits places the worth of human life below the size of its corporate dividends. This business imperative is built into capitalism that it requires government legislation to enforce compliance.

Boeing’s business model applies to nearly any other major industry. The health care system is one where pharmaceutical corporations place profit over human lives and insurance companies refuse to cover services that can save lives because it is not profitable. Car manufacturers install sensors to ensure that emission readings are falsified. Gun manufacturers continue lobby to sell automatic rifles of the kind used in deadly mass shootings because they are more profitable than non-automatic weapons. The fossil fuel companies have placed lucrative oil and gas drilling over the future of the human species. The hunger for ever-higher profits is a deadly zero-sum game we are all destined to lose.

From a business perspective, it makes sense why a company’s top executives do all they can to maximize profits, even at the expense of lives. The expenses of any fines or compensation are merely factored into the price. But how does it make sense for us to tolerate such a system?

Rather than naming and supervising its own ‘designated airworthiness representatives’ the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  allow Boeing and other manufacturers to select their own employees to certify the safety of their aircraft. Very much like the fox guarding the hen house.

Capitalism demonstrates its true colours to us every single day. And once in a while, the blood-soaked profits are right before our eyes. "Caveat emptor" (buyer beware) remains everywhere the warning of the mortal threat which hangs over our social system based on capitalism. And we're its collateral damage. 

Boeing were legally able to play Russian Roulette with the lives of passengers and airline crew.

Adapted from here


Trevor Goodger-Hill said...

About a week before suspicions started to come out in the reptile press "they" already knew what the problem was. Apparently there is an international organization which collects (unofficial) reports by pilots about difficulties they encounter. The item stated clearly that these entries were not considered "official". Concerning Boeing, there were two reports by pilots from different aerolines who struggled to counteract the aeroplane's dive downwards and when they could not stop it they turned off that co0ntrol and the plane righted itself and they were able to continue on their flight. In one of the cases the pilot stated clearly that it should be reported to the authorities. There was also a third pilot's report which wasn't quite as clear and I have the impression that may be the one of the standby pilot's assistance. I am sorry I can't give the citation as I didhnj't note it, but it was certainly well before they "pretended" "they" thought they had discovered the problem.

ajohnstone said...

There was indeed deliberate procrastination in grounding the planes.