In 2017 Boeing opened a museum for its employees dedicated to aviation safety. The artifacts intend to show how tragic accidents in the company’s history advanced airplane safety. Instead, they illustrate a pattern of cover-up.
Boeing’s 737 Max was introduced in spring 2017. Repeated crashes and near accidents grounded the plane worldwide in 2019. The plane’s automated control system had lethal inclinations toward flying into the ground.
Facing turbulence for mishaps, Boeing has a historical archetype. Corporate accountability reporter Douglas MacMillan of The Washington Post:
“Boeing’s response to the public uproar over the 737 Max follows a historical pattern for the company, according to interviews with 11 former employees, government officials and aviation safety experts, all of whom worked on crash investigations involving Boeing. For decades, the aerospace giant has tried to carefully shape public perceptions around the causes of plane crashes – both to limit its legal liability and to maintain the confidence of customers, employees and investors in the integrity of its planes, those interviewed said.
“The company has a reputation in the aviation community for withholding information, favoring theories of pilot errors over product flaws and being slow to make engineering changes to planes that could prevent future crashes, said Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that oversees investigations into all crashes that occur in the United States.”
Boeing is by no means an outlier in the corporate world. Almost all of the major banks left standing in America and Europe in the wake of the 2008 financial panic were found to have defrauded their clients and committed other illegalities. Apple engineered slowing down old iPhones to prod customers to buy new ones. These are merely flagrant examples of a ubiquity.
There are many companies which produce quality goods and stand by their products. These are mostly small, privately owned companies, led by moral individuals. Alas, these stellar companies are outnumbered by little weasels on the take.
Contrastingly, it is a rare large corporation that can be applauded for decency in its dealings across the board. Amazon, for instance, may pride itself on good customer service, but is a slave driver when it comes to employee productivity and obscene profit raker from authors and vendors on its site.
When it comes to the business world, the scum rises to the top. Donald Trump is the poster sociopath for this; a point further illustrated by those former corporate leaders who have served in the Trump administration.
Morality and marketplace mentality are like oil and water in their mixing. Exploitation is profitable. Morality is not, unless you’re a huckster in the business of religion.
From the mind to the mine to silver birds in the sky, the history of capitalism has unfolded to the current state of the world. That state is not desirable nor sustainable.
The only hope for humanity is a rising demand for morality and transparency on all counts. Make no mistake: those who support the status quo are an enemy against decency. Cluelessness does not count as an excuse, and the clueless deserve no say in how societies should run.
The failure of democracy has been its sinking to the lowest common denominator: an abysmal level which is unsustainable if humankind is to have any chance of living to the 22nd century. With their foul flailing, the US, UK, Australia, and many other democracies flagrantly demonstrate this point. If there is no decent political leadership to be hoisted, our doom is apparent.
Ishi Nobu, Spokes 6: The Fruits of Civilization, BookBaby (2019).
Ishi Nobu, Spokes 7: The Pathos of Politics, BookBaby (2019).
Douglas MacMillan, “‘Our daughter died in vain’: What Boeing learns from plane crashes,” The Washington Post (28 October 2019).
Ainur Rohmah et al, “Lion Air crash investigators fault Boeing 737 Max’s flight-control system, regulatory lapses and pilot training,” The Washington Post (25 October 2019).
Samuel Gibbs, “Apple admits slowing older iPhones because of ageing batteries,” The Guardian (21 December 2017).
Sarah Butler, “Amazon accused of treating UK warehouse staff like robots,” The Guardian (31 May 2017).
Áine Cain, “Amazon will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour —here’s what it’s really like to work there, according to employees,” Business Insider (2 October 2018).
Jacob Weindling, “7 examples of how Amazon treats their 90,000+ warehouse employees like cattle,” Paste (4 December 2017).
Josh Dzieza, “Prime and Punishment,” The Verge (19 December 2018).
Jeffrey Pfeffer, “Here’s why Amazon is more ruthless than Walmart,” Time (11 June 2014).