Boeing, Obama, A Gold Watch, And 346 Dead

Authored by Russell Mokhiber via Counterpunch.org,

Democrats want to make Donald Trump the issue in 2020.

If they do, they will lose again, the way they lost in 2016.

Instead, the 2020 election should be about corporate power in all of its manifestations, its hold on the culture, our country and both major political parties.

Take the case of the two Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane crashes — the Lion Air crash off the coast of Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2018 that killed all 189 on board and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019 that killed all 157 on board.

During his time as President of the United States, Barack Obama promoted the sale of Boeing planes — including the 737 Max 8 planes — around the world.

In November 2011, in Bali, Indonesia, President Obama announced an agreement between Boeing and Lion Air.

“For the last several days I’ve been talking about how we have to make sure that we’ve got a presence in this region, that it can result directly in jobs at home,” Obama said.

“And what we see here — a multibillion-dollar deal between Lion Air — one of the fastest-growing airlines not just in the region, but in the world — and Boeing is going to result in over 100,000 jobs back in the United States of America, over a long period of time.”

“This represents the largest deal, if I’m not mistaken, that Boeing has ever done.  We are looking at over 200 planes that are going to be sold.”

In September 2014, Obama met with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia at the White House.

“We’re strong trading partners,” Obama said. “And most recently, Boeing has done a deal with Ethiopia, which will result in jobs here in the United States.”

“I’m expecting a gold watch from Boeing at the end of my presidency because I know I’m on the list of top salesmen at Boeing,” Obama said at an export forum at the White House in September 2013.

Of course, Obama got more than just a gold watch from Boeing when he left the White House.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Boeing donated $10 million to the Obama presidential library and museum in Chicago. And earlier this year, Obama dropped in to speak to a Boeing leadership retreat at a swank resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Obama gratefully waived his $400,000 speaking fee.

While pushing the sale of Boeing planes around the world, the Obama administration was at the same time fast tracking a dangerous deregulatory process at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that effectively put the corporations in charge of the safety certification process — and that in effect put Boeing in charge of certifying it’s faulty MCAS software that led to the tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The FAA certification system is known as the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. Under that program, companies like Boeing can appoint their own representatives to act in the place of FAA inspectors.

In 2004, one of the unions representing FAA inspectors – Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) – criticized the proposed ODA program as “premature and reckless.”

“Allowing the aviation industry to self-regulate in this manner is nothing more than the blatant outsourcing of inspector functions and handing over inherently governmental oversight activities to non-governmental, for-profit entities,” PASS wrote in its 2004 comments to the FAA.

Would a more independent FAA have prevented the two recent Boeing crashes?

Yes, says Paul Hudson of Flyer’s Rights.

“The ODA program has allowed Boeing to effectively self certify the MCAS software as safe,” Hudson told Corporate Crime Reporter.

“Boeing ‘s CEO, whistleblowers and FAA now admit they failed to properly test, fully connect, or even disclose MCAS, much less its deadly defects and overpowering features — not to the FAA higher ups, not to airline pilots or not even to its own test pilots.”

“Air travel has gotten much safer due to both safety regulation and technical advancements,” Hudson said. “But profit seeking over safety at all costs is destroying both safety and profits.”

“Some Boeing safety inspectors have summed up the current culture as ‘safety is king but schedule is God,” Hudson said. “I asked Boeing in December after the Lion Air crash to ground the Max. Boeing refused.”