Cheating the EPA is Like Cheating a Speed Trap
A VW engineer may be going to prison – and has already been professionally (and probably personally) ruined… for having “cheated” the EPA. Which is like expelling a picked-on kid who outsmarted the playground bully.
Which, of course, is what often happens now.
Whether it’s the schoolyard bully – or the EPA (or other “agencies” of Uncle) – we are supposed to take it, never resist it – and may the motor gods have mercy upon you if you ever “cheat” it.
The engineer’s name is James R. Liang. He’s worked for VW since 1983, but not anymore. Bye-bye career (and pension) and hello Federal prison. Which he’s facing on account of having been a member of the engineering team that developed “defeat” software for VW’s TDI diesel engines. The software made the engines “compliant” when emissions tested by Uncle but less-than-compliant when driven by customers.
As I’ve written about several times before, this sounds bad but really isn’t. The EPA’s tests are both arbitrary and Pecksniffian – meaning much ado about not much. The media continues to parrot the line that VW’s diesel engines produced “up to 40 times” more pollution (specifically, oxides of nitrogen) than the EPA’s standards permitted.
Maybe so. But – so what?
It continues to boggle sensible minds (if any still exist) that EPA hasn’t had to produce any evidence that harm has been caused by this. Not one crying baby, even. Probably because the “up to 40 times more” the media keeps squawking about amounts to less than 1 percent’s difference in the composition of the “cheating” car’s exhaust gasses.
The only thing that’s been established is that VW “cheated” – which is a legalism.
The German officers who conspired to get rid of the Fuhrer in July of 1944 were certainly guilty under the law. But did they do wrong? History has vindicated them (too late for them, of course).
Arguing anything else is a loser. VW, via painful-looking public hairshirted writhings,has already admitted to “cheating” EPA. Now it is just a question of begging for mercy – which will never be given. EPA is like Al Sharpton who has found a “racist.”
Never forgive. Never shut up.
Liang himself has already begged for mercy – and is cooperating with Uncle’s Inspector Javerts in exchange (he hopes) for “leniency” when he is eventually sentenced for “violating U.S. clean air laws” and “conspiring to commit wire fraud.” The indictment handed down against him states that Liang and other engineers at VW “…quickly realized the diesel engines they were designing for vehicles target at the U.S. market could not meet government clean air standards while appealing to customers.”
Yes, exactly. VW’s “crime” was building engines that appealed to its customers – rather than building them to placate EPA. For this “crime,” Liang will probably spend time in a prison cell. It may not be hard-core prison and he may “get away” with house arrest, an ankle bracelet and probation – along with a healthy does of financial ruin and (as a result of all the foregoing) a ruined marriage. But consider his fate as opposed to some of the Wall Street crony capitalists of the Late Implosion (back in ’08) who caused actual harm to millions of people and who for the most part walked away with not so much as a parking ticket and in many cases, a golden parachute strapped to their backs.
These actual harms triggered no consequence to speak of. Because their perpetrators did not commit the only crime that Uncle will not tolerate: Failing to obey.
That is Liang’s – and VW’s – fatal offense. They could have designed and sold shoddy cars that resulted in accidents and fatalities – actual harm caused to actual real people – and the worst that would have happened would have been recalls and lawsuits. They’d have lost some money, perhaps. But it is not likely anyone would have been criminally prosecuted.
Speaking of which: Ever wonder why that Joan Claybrook (and Elizabeth Dole, wife of Bob, who, as Secretary of Transportation back in the ’80s, was also directly responsible for the harm that ensued) were never indicted for getting people killed by forcing the first-generation air bags onto the market, even though they knew ahead of time – because the engineers told them – that these bags were not just potentially but assuredly dangerous to small children, older people and people generally?
These bags – which were not “de-powered” and lacked sensors in the seats to adjust the force of deployment based on the weight of the occupant, to reduce (but not eliminate) the potential harm caused by the force of the bag’s explosive deployment – did in fact kill and maim. Real people were really hurt.
But Claybrook and Dole were never held accountable – because in their death-dealing they were Uncle manifested. And Uncle never indicts – much less convicts – himself. Or his minions.
But woe unto him who “cheats” Uncle.
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He has been covering these topics for 25-plus years as a columnist and author, including several years as an editorial writer/columnist for The Washington Times and contributor to newspapers and magazines around the country, including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News and Free Press, American Spectator and many others.
His books include Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs. His latest book, Doomed, will be available next spring.
Eric lives in rural SW Virginia - as far as he could get from Northern Virginia without actually leaving the state.
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