No one seems to be talking about why the EPA didn’t notice, or didn’t act on, VW’s shenanigans for years and years, despite numerous past instances of car manufacturers having cheated in similar ways.
I still see a lot of gray here. It’s a bit like Deflategate: why didn’t the people who are hired, trained and paid to observe and regulate football players’ behavior, the referees, ever notice problems on the field with under/overinflated balls? Maybe there were no problems. Or maybe the referees knew but winked and looked aside, for whatever reason; among possible reasons payoffs would rank high.
Animal nature including human nature is to camouflage, deceive, lie, kill, whatever it takes to gain an edge, stay alive, flourish. Civilization reins in the worst excesses of deceit and violence so all can prosper, not just the remorseless ones. Human nature is to cook the books for financial advantage. Laws and audits and punishments seek to hold those malefactions in check.
The EPA is supposed to prevent car makers from getting away with emissions-driven murder. The EPA failed to do so. It apparently took collegiate researchers almost no time and effort to reveal VW’s deception, definitively, so vividly and clearly that VW caved in within hours of the revelation, having reportedly battled in private with the government for a year. The proof was right there for the EPA to have. The EPA people in charge either never thought to look and were incompetent, or chose not to look and were criminally negligent, or did look and did see but winked and turned aside – maybe for money?
US and European governments that let VW cheat for years are culpable too in the deaths of thousands due to unnecessary pollution.
Those people who should have found and pursued the evidence years ago deserve firing if not prosecution.
The Guardian article in our previous post explains the series of regulatory actions taken in the US by the Highway Traffic Safety Administration and by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has greater powers in this matter than the HTSA although both inspect autos. The Europeans have similar agencies, and they had similar problems.
In the US, the Republicans assert that there are no good regulations, except for abortion rules and that poor people can’t buy Scotch, steak, or crab legs with SNAP benefit cards, and that all other regulations just kill jobs and are incompetently created and enforced. Of course, the Republicans work as hard as they can to disable the regulations and enforcement agencies.
Indeed, their idea of business friendly behavior is to allow the businesses in question to “self-enforce.” You can see this happening here, as the various auto firms hired supposedly independent testing firms to test and evaluate the auto firms’ conformance to the rules.
Now General Motors has just been fined almost a billion $ for their long running ignition system failure, covered up for many years. But this failure involved the death of dozens of motorists. You can see where they were happy to get off with none of the engineers or executives in jail for manslaughter (which I guess would be the crime). Why are none of them being prosecuted?
The same question arises from the global financial crash of six or seven years ago. A major part of this calamity involved greed and fraud perpetrated at the highest levels of the world’s largest and “most respected” financial firms. Their malfeasance destroyed trillions of $ of other peoples’ wealth, yet the American justice system has only punished with jail a few of them, and none of the top people involved. This disaster involved the active elimination of regulation from an industry known to be a danger to all of us and to themselves, for that matter.