9/29/15

The scandal of Volkswagen (VW) cheating on the nitrogen-oxide (NO) emissions generated by their diesel-powered cars has erupted in the last week.

In full disclosure:

  • I do not like Germany—Germans generally and VW specifically. There is absolutely no logical reason for that. It is all emotional and probably relates to my Jewish heritage.
  • I hold the vast majority of government regulations in great disdain and the EPA ranks high on that list. Specifically, their NO regulations are stupid as they actually are counter to their effort to increase mileage usage in cars (and thus reduce carbon emissions – go figure).
  • I am fervently against the Obama administration’s war on capitalism and companies, and extortionist attitude toward large business starting from BP and big banks and so on.
    I guess I am like a judge who is taking a bribe by one side on the condition that he gets the same bribe from the other side so that he can maintain his objectivity.

According to what we know now, it seems that VW at its top level of corporate management designed and approved the installation of a software program whose sole purpose was to reduce emissions when the car was in testing mode by the regulator, emissions testing. And yet, allowed the car to roam freely when in normal driving mode, thus allowing much better mileage performance and driving performance – acceleration, speed, etc.

It seems that VW accepts that it was done on purpose with full intent to cheat and with the knowledge and support of top management up to and including CEO AND some board members. Additional “scalps” at the very highest levels of management and board are being exposed every few days.

If this is the case, this is a shocking example and, indeed, in my memory the first ever of malfeasance by the actual corporate body as opposed to by people on behalf of the company.

In most cases of corporate malfeasance it turns out that someone at the corporate level decided to be “smart” and work around rules in order to improve results for the company but mostly for his own glorification within the company. For his own advancement and remuneration. I have never encountered a scheme blatantly and purposefully designed to cheat and seemingly knowingly approved by the top corporate governance structure with the full intent to cheat.

I am totally against these regulations but NEEDLESS to say, the way to fight them is NOT by cheating. I’ve written many times about the cowardliness of big business and their supplicant attitude toward government and regulators; and I condemn that. More truth-telling and courage from our leading capitalists would have done a lot to improve this world.

But cheating? NEVER.

If the above turns out to be the case, and if there are no mitigating circumstances—which at the moment is hard to imagine—it is the first time in my life experience that I believe a company should be put out of business by regulators.

Fine it into extinction as far as I am concerned.

There should be zero tolerance for cheating, whether by politicians seeking office or by companies in their core corporate structure.