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Boeing 737 Max crashes were not isolated events — they're the result of deregulation

December 5, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

The Federal Aviation Administration recently declared the Boeing 737 Max is safe to fly. Still, American consumers are nervous. And they should be. International regulators – from Canada, Europe, Brazil and China – have taken the unusual step of refusing to accept the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval, insisting instead on conducting their own reviews.

They don’t trust the FAA. And if they don’t, why should we? The two deadly 737 Max crashes – the first in 2018 from Indonesia’s Lion Air, and the second, several months later in 2019, from Ethiopian Airlines – reflected dangerous inadequacies with FAA oversight, and, more broadly, dysfunction across the American regulatory system.

In the aftermath of the crashes, the Joint Authorities, an FAA-commissioned investigatory body with experts from NASA and international aviation authorities, targeted faulty navigation systems and blamed them, in part, on the FAA’s abdication of regulation in favor of self-regulation. Nearly all aspects of certifying the 737 Max were in Boeing’s hands, not the FAA’s, the Joint Authorities found, and the company’s self-regulation program was shot through with “conflicting priorities and an environment that does not support FAA requirements.”

The 737 Max crashes were not isolated events, however. Corporate disasters connected to deregulation and undue reliance on self-regulation are depressingly frequent: Collapsed mines, pipeline spills, food and water contamination scares, consumer fraud, cancer clusters, fires, crashes, and explosions. The Deepwater Horizon disaster and Wall Street’s 2008 meltdown resulted in part from deregulation and failed self-regulation. Big tech monopolies and the climate crisis are both spiraling due in part to industries’ success in keeping regulators at bay.

Part of that success has been rooted in the surface appeal of self-regulation, which corporations leverage to fight for deregulation. Trotting out increasingly ambitious commitments to the environment and social responsibility, companies claim they should be trusted to respect social and environmental values rather than compelled by law to do so; that they should be left to self-regulate rather than be regulated. Which helps them push harder, and more successfully, to free themselves from regulatory oversight.

JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and his Business Roundtable recently called upon major companies to broaden their mandates by serving the interests of workers, communities and the environment, not only shareholders. Yet the Roundtable and the companies that constitute it vociferously fight, without any sense of contradiction, or even irony, …read more


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