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One colleague called me a misanthrope the other day. Another often refers to me as Mr Angry. A Scottish pal in Rio calls me Begbie (after the notoriously angry character in Trainspotting).
They all mean it in jest (I hope!) and I usually take it with a pinch of salt and a laugh.
But there’s a lot to be angry about these days and I don’t just mean big banks destroying the livelihoods of millions just to make a few more pennies, or the spinelessness of politicians who have allowed them to get away with it.
Case in point today in Brazil, where Bradley Brooks from the Associated Press just published this sensational story about how big car makers in Brazil are routinely churning out vehicles that fail the same safety tests they wouldn’t dare fail in the developed world.
Unsafe cars, coupled with the South American nation’s often dangerous driving conditions, have resulted in a Brazilian death rate from passenger car accidents that is nearly four times that of the United States.
The culprits are the cars themselves, produced with weaker welds, scant safety features and inferior materials compared to similar models manufactured for U.S. and European consumers, say experts and engineers inside the industry. Four of Brazil’s five bestselling cars failed their independent crash tests.
Manufacturers earn a 10 percent profit on Brazilian-made cars, compared with 3 percent in the U.S. and a global average of 5 percent, according to IHS Automotive, an industry consulting firm.
Only next year will laws require frontal air bags and antilock braking systems on all cars, safety features that have been standard in industrial countries for years. The country will also have new impact regulations on paper, at least; Brazilian regulators don’t have their own crash-test facility to verify automakers’ claims about vehicle performance, nor are there independent labs in the country.
In short, Brazil’s car makers are cutting corners and costing countless lives because it is cheaper to make poor quality cars than it is to spend more and make the cars as safe as they would in the US or Europe. And the government is quite happy to let them.
This in a nation where cars cost three times what they cost elsewhere.
Seriously, the question isn’t why am I angry. The question is: Why isn’t everyone?