G.M., bailout a mistake

On Nov. 24, Candice Anderson was finally cleared of a murder that she didn’t commit.

For ten years, Anderson accepted the blame for the death of her boyfriend, Gene Mikale Erickson, who died in a car crash that took place on Nov. 15, 2004. Anderson and Erickson’s Saturn Ion crashed into a tree, and the impact killed Erickson. The police officer on the scene couldn’t find any other explanation for the crash other than intoxication on Anderson’s part, and neither could the district attorney.

Her parents liquidated their 401k in order to retain a lawyer for her defense, which proved to be a loss. Later in 2007, Anderson would plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

The news of her innocence shouldn’t be news, however, at least not to General Motors Corporation. In May 2007, five months before Anderson pleaded guilty, G.M. examined her case. From that examination, G.M. determined that its car was at fault.

That report wasn’t made public until recently, and for ten years G.M. allowed for a woman to be blamed for a crime she did not commit. Even after Anderson’s story was reported by the New York Times, Mary Barra, the CEO of G.M. refused to write a letter of recommendation for a pardon on Anderson’s behalf.

The malfunction in Anderson and Erickson’s Saturn Ion is now known to be a common defect in the model, and Erickson’s death an addition to 35 others related to faulty cars produced by G.M. in the early 2000s. Because of that defect, and Erickson’s death, Anderson and Erickson’s family will be able to receive compensation from a special fund made by G.M.

Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney, has been hired to be the paymaster of the compensation fund. He has also acted as paymaster for compensation funds for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, BP oil spill, Boston Marathon bombings, and other infamous events.

The fund, which he and G.M., have set up has currently pooled $3.8 billion. That money has in part been financed by taxpayers, if only indirectly.

Back in 2009, G.M., Chrysler, LLC, and Ford Motor Company were in dire straits financially. Two of the auto manufacturers, G.M. and Chrysler, received subsidies from the U.S. government and subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code allows for financially distressed companies, that can still be profitable, to adjust their debt. The money that G.M. and Chrysler received from the White House and Congress was for them to continue to operate while in bankruptcy.

Chrysler received $10.1 billion in loans from the U.S. government and has paid back $9.2 billion. G.M. was loaned $49.5 billion in total, and has since paid back $39 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

Nationally, we have to reconcile our role in the revival of a company that maybe should have been left for dead, or at least left to fend for itself. The more information that comes out about G.M. and the defects of its cars, the more the wisdom of its bailout comes into question.

Our country hasn’t only supported G.M. with our tax dollars, but with our private dollars too.

Sales numbers for G.M. show a 6.5 percent increase in November from the previous year. In fact, it’s been the pest November post by the company is seven years. Data from the company’s third quarterly report of the year shows it has made a $1.4 billion profit. On Dec. 6, the company’s stock was recorded at $33.93.

Somehow that doesn’t seem right after what G.M. did to Candice Anderson and others like her.


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