1970s >> 1978 >> no-889-september-1978

Cheap lives again

In May this year, the Socialist Standard commented on the case which revealed that the Ford Motor Company of America deliberately allowed cars on the road which they knew had a lethal design fault, which resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries. This happened because Ford, knowing of the danger, decided that it was actually cheaper to continue the slaughter and pay damages than to redesign the cars. This time though, their calculations went wrong; one victim of their diabolical attitude was able to claim such a high award of damages as to upset their entire calculations.

What is good for Ford, is good enough for British Leyland. The Guardian (13/7/78) reports that BL have been building Allegro cars with a fault which is actually liable to cause wheels to drop off! What is so astonishing (or is it?) is that BL, a nationalised industry be it noted (so much for the claim that nationalisation would somehow mean a different form of capitalism), like Ford, knowing of the danger, decided to sit tight and do nothing about it.

Indeed BL tried to shift the blame onto one of its distributors. They did not get away with it; two hapless victims of this cold-blooded decision sued the company after they had suffered horrible injuries when their car lost a rear wheel. In giving judgment against BL for the damages suffered as a result of the accident the judge said:

They (i.e. BL) were faced with mounting and horrifying evidence of wheels coming adrift. Any of the cases could have had fatal results. In my view, the duty of care owed by Leyland to the public was to make a clean breast of the problem and recall all cars for safety washers to be fitted. They knew the full facts. They saw to it that no one else did.

 

One more example of the inhumanity of capitalism; the society that makes profitable production the chief aim, and treats human beings as expendable. Who’s ready for a change?

Ronnie Warrington