General Motors' potential sale of Hummer to Tengzhong is probably good news for those interested in seeing the company return to independent and profitable status as quickly as possible. The move should see enable GM to shed the negative political and social association of the star-crossed SUV brand and get some money in return. There is actually a better option, says The New York Times' Ethicist.

The Ethicist frames the issue as figuring out which is more important: GM's employees and shareholders (i.e., the American public) or the environment. Hummer vehicles are too heavy and use too much gas and, the Ethicist says, hazardous products should be regulated by the government. Now that the government basically owns Hummer, there is "an opportunity to reconsider transportation policy, including from a moral perspective. Such an analysis urges not merely discontinuing the Hummer but also significantly reducing our reliance on the private car." Here's more:
Shutting down Hummer could even turn out to be cost-effective. The sale price, perhaps as much as $500 million, may well be dwarfed by the long-term costs - in environmental damage, in public health - to us taxpayers, G.M.'s majority owners, of keeping those three tons of steel on the road. [...] The restructuring of G.M. gives us a chance to avert the fate of being laid low by our own automobiles, the grand manifestation of America's industrial might. The first thing we do, let's kill all the Hummers.
So, what's the right thing to do here?

Is GM's decision to sell Hummer the morally correct path?
Yes - GM's biggest moral obligation is to taxpayers and their employees 1 (33.3%)
No - GM's biggest moral obligation is to be environmentally responsible 1 (33.3%)
I'm unsure 1 (33.3%)

[Source: The Ethicist]

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