"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Monday, 26 October 2015

Corporate Criminals: VW Case Shows Need for More and Bigger Government

Corporate Criminals
VW Case Shows Need for More and Bigger Government

Occupied Earth by R. Ayana

Again and again we hear about corporations doing bad things so they can make more money: polluting, selling contaminated food or otherwise harming people’s health, selling products that injure people or just don’t do what they advertise, tricking and scamming people out of their money, selling banned goods or providing financial services for terrorists or drug cartels, and so many other things that are not good for people or society.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some entity that was more powerful than these corporations, whose purpose is to protect us, reign these corporations in, make and enforce rules, prosecute offenders and put a stop to this stuff?

This Week: VW

This week we are hearing about Volkswagen (VW). For years the company claimed they were selling “clean diesel” engines, but they were tricking their customers, the public and governments around the world. Their cars are really a public health threat, putting out up to 40 times the legal limit of pollutants that cause asthma and other disease.

VW built a “defeat mechanism” into as many as 11 million cars. This mechanism let the cars pass government tests, even though they were polluting like crazy when driven in the real world. The mechanism made the engine run clean during government tests, then when it detected that the tests were finished it set the engine to start polluting again.

For years these cars have been harming people and until now VW was getting away with (and making big profits from) this. They were finally caught, and we will see whether executives are prosecuted, or if this will be one more case of weak (or corrupted) government issuing a fine that lets a company make its shareholders pay the cost instead of holding the executives that did it accountable.

The Fix For The VW Cars

This is huge. Up to 11 million cars have these “defeat” mechanisms in them. These cars have to be fixed because their emissions can cause people to develop asthma and other respiratory diseases. But fixing this is a big problem.

According to Wired, in “VW Owners Aren’t Going to Like the Fixes for Their Diesels,” there are two choices for fixing these cars – and either choice means the car owners end up losing a lot of what they thought they had paid for.

The first is to update the software so the cars always run in the “test mode” that defeated the emissions tests. But the changes the software made to the engines to get them to operate within the legal emissions limits while being tested will cause the car to either have poor acceleration or poor gas mileage.

The second is to actually fix the problem that causes the engines to pollute. According to Wired, VW would have to add a “urea” tank and the means to inject this into the catalytic converter:

The standard way of making a diesel run cleanly is to use selective catalytic reduction, a chemical process that breaks NOx [mono-nitrogen oxides] down into nitrogen and water. Part of that process includes adding urea to the mix. The super effective system can eliminate 70 to 90 percent of NOx emissions, and is used by other diesel manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW. The downside is that it adds complication to the system, and cost — $5,000 to $8,000 per car. And you need to periodically add the urea-based solution to your car to keep it working.

… So it seems the logical way to get those cars to perform like their diesel cousins is to add a urea. VW’s unlikely to embrace that option, because adding hardware to half a million cars would be far more expensive than a computer update. It wouldn’t be any fun for the TDI owner, either. Not only do you have to spend an afternoon with your local dealer, you have to make room for the tank. That could mean sacrificing cargo space or giving up the spare tire.

The cost to VW will be huge, and the customers lose either way. Never mind all the people suffering asthma and lung disease resulting from the pollution these cars were emitting.

VW Not An Isolated Case

Act Locally by R. Ayana The New York Times reports, in “Volkswagen Test Rigging Follows a Long Auto Industry Pattern,” that,

For decades, car companies found ways to rig mileage and emissions testing data. In Europe, some automakers have taped up test cars’ doors and grilles to bolster their aerodynamics. Others have used “superlubricants” to reduce friction in the car’s engine to a degree that would be impossible in real-world driving conditions.

Automakers have even been known to make test vehicles lighter by removing the back seats.
… [In 1973 the EPA] fined Volkswagen $120,000 after finding that the company had installed devices intended specifically to shut down a vehicle’s pollution control systems. In 1974, Chrysler had to recall more than 800,000 cars because similar devices were found in the radiators of its cars.

[. . .] Beyond emissions, the industry has long been contemptuous of regulation. Henry Ford II called airbags “a lot of baloney,” and executives have bristled at rules requiring higher mileage per gallon.

VW might not even be the only company that is scamming government testing labs with “defeat mechanisms’ right now. From the report,

“We call it the tip of the iceberg,” said Jos Dings, the director of Transport and Environment. “We don’t think this will be limited to Volkswagen. If you look at the testing numbers for the other manufacturers, they are just as bad.”

The Times report lists several examples of the auto industry engaging in profit-making by endangering their customers. There was the “unexploded Pinto” problem of gas tanks blowing up. There were 271 deaths from the Ford-Firestone tire scandal. There were the Takata airbags that either don’t work or injure people. There was Chrysler selling as new cars that had been driven for 60,000 miles with the odometers disconnected. Click through, there’s plenty… But no one has been put in jail.

So what VW was caught doing is “not an isolated incident” and, in fact, VW had already been caught doing the same thing in the 1970s.

Not Just Auto Industry

VW is hardly the only company in the auto industry engaged in these practices, and the auto industry is hardly the only industry engaging in this kind of activity.

● Of course, tobacco still kills over 480,000 Americans each year and no one even talks about doing anything about it. Everyone understands this is because of the great wealth and power of the tobacco companies as well as their influence over a certain political party. More than 480,000 terrible, painful deaths each year!

● The “Obamacare” health reform was written the way it was because it was understood from the start that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies had enough power to block anything they didn’t like. So we didn’t get Medicare for All or even a “public option.” These industries had already blocked the administration of President Bill Clinton from reforming the health care system, leading to more decades of deaths, untreated illness and bankruptcies.

● In 2000, The Nation reported, in “The Secret History of Lead,” that the lead industry knew and kept secret for decades that they were poisoning people with lead in gasoline, paint and other products, and instead of doing something about it they protected their profits by covering this up and attacking government efforts to do something.

The leaded gas adventurers have profitably polluted the world on a grand scale and, in the process, have provided a model for the asbestos, tobacco, pesticide and nuclear power industries, and other twentieth-century corporate bad actors, for evading clear evidence that their products are harmful by hiding behind the mantle of scientific uncertainty.

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum reported on just one of the societal consequences of this decades-long crime, in “America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead.” His investigative report concluded that lead may be “the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic.” That whole put-millions-in-prison thing that has ruined so many lives? Oops, it might have been the lead industry’s doing. Are any lead industry executives in jail for that?

● The fossil-fuel industry is notorious for polluting and for causing climate change. The industry has captured an entire political party and has them fight the development of alternative energy sources, taxes on carbon, fuel-saving public transportation initiatives, other energy-saving efforts, etc. The industry funds a climate denial cult that threatens the entire planet.

These are just a few of so many examples.

Earth First! by R. Ayana

Big Government Prosecutions Can Make A Difference

Corporations save money by cutting corners. Dumping carbon into the air. Putting lead in gasoline. You name it. They price the potential fines into the product as a cost of doing business. And company shareholders pay those fines. The executives who commit the actual wrongdoing are rarely if ever held accountable themselves.

Many companies can safely assume that the government isn’t even going to catch them or do anything if they do. Government cowed by intense anti-government propaganda. We hear that “government can’t do anything as well as business can,” that “big government threatens us,” and “government takes money out of the economy.” We hear about “burdensome government regulations” that “kill jobs” on a 24/7/365 basis. Government and democracy do not have an advertising budget to counter this relentless propaganda.

Government is underfunded because the propaganda elects corporate-backed anti-government politicians who convince people to allow tax cuts (on the corporations and their owners) paid for by cutting back on government. And especially cutting back on government regulation and enforcement. The result is government enforcement is backing down all the time.

Industry executives revolve through the door into government and then back into plush corporate offices where they collect rewards for protecting their industries. Our “captured” government notoriously refuses to bring corporate criminals to justice. Not one banker, for example, was prosecuted for obvious crimes leading to the 2008 financial crash.

However last week we saw one rare instance of a prosecution of individuals for corporate crime. The people running Peanut Corporation of America, a Georgia peanut company, were prosecuted after a salmonella outbreak that sickened and hospitalized hundreds of people and killed 9 of them. Company executives knew for years their product was made in unsafe ways that were causing contamination — but instead of spending what was needed to fix the problem they covered this up. So the owner was sentenced to 28 years in prison and other executives were sentenced to 20 years.

Thanks to an actual prosecution resulting in prison terms for company executives it is likely that the public will suffer fewer food-safety problems, at least for a while.

Our government supposedly exists to protect We the People from wealthy and powerful interests, including other countries. Our revolution against the wealthy British aristocracy and the King’s corporations testify to this. A government that is “of the people, by the people and for the people” should be big enough, strong enough and funded enough to reign in companies and billionaires, and protect We the People from the kind of corporate misbehavior we saw from Volkswagen — long, long, long before it involves 11 million cars all spewing out serious threats to public health.

For more information about space migration see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/corporations
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  1. Are you serious about government of "we the people" being big enough to take on corporations like VW? Are you aware that Government is indeed a private for profit corporation and is the biggest polluting, most wasteful, corporation around? Yes.... "we the people" simply means the share holders of the private pirate ship known as the private government inc. They pollute through their private military industrial complex, polluting with their depleted uranium bullets and bombs, poisoning the air, ground and water, killing millions around the world though the control of the media which they own, it's a mad world and VW is at the bottom of the iceberg. No need for a political-monetary government at all, though it would be wise to install a technocracy that cannot be corrupted because money will fail to have any kind of corrupting influence. Think beyond the terms of money and politics and watch as the world becomes balanced once more through existing technological know how. The corrupting factor in human and environmental relations has always been the abstract concept of money and it's make believe value. Take money and politics (corrupting factors) out of the production and distribution process and watch as the incentive to clean up the world becomes LOVING! Yes, take out all the fairy-tale shit out and watch how the world transforms itself to a balanced system acting in harmonious accord with natures laws. Instead of planned waste programs we'll have abundances of all that we require beyond the psychological need to hoard or be greedy or to wittingly damage the environment. Yes, think beyond the terms of fairy-tales and make believe value systems and we can probably solve roughly 95% of our most complex problems.

    1. Love the way you use the words 'LOVING' and 'fairy-tale shit' so closely together. Why have governments at all if they can't protect the people? That's the entire point of having them (until we can dispense with them and use a better system). This article helps demonstrate that governing agencies (or technologies) are required to make any technocracy work, unless you've found a way to end human corruption.
      The basic problem is that most governments are incompetent AND corrupt (not either/or). Meritocracy now!

    2. Governments? Well, there's the privately owned price system government (current form) based on scarcity values, which we're finding doesn't work for EVERYONE! And what about a viable technocracy based on abundances beyond measure working without the corruption factors of money and politics getting in the way of actual problem solving? What will corrupt the engineers and technical experts, Illuminator when abundances of all that we require are assured from the cradle to the grave? Tell me what will happen to these technical people, Illuminator. What will drive them nuts and corrupt the system when money is no longer socially accepted and energy systems that work beyond measurable factors are used for the benefit to ALL? Tell me your story!

  2. The huge corporations that have a stranglehold on nature, know full well that their practices harm people and natural systems. These corporations, such as the pharmaceuticals, actually budget resulting law suits into the price of their "products". It's just a game to them. One must wonder though, about the John and Mary Does who choose to work in these industries, such as the military-industrial war products line, etc.
    DuPont lost a law suit this past week;
    Lawsuits over the leaking of a chemical used to make Teflon have been sticking tightly to DuPont, and the company has now lost the first of around 3,500 cases. A federal jury in Ohio found that DuPont's contamination of the Ohio River contributed to plaintiff Carla Bartlett's kidney cancer and ordered the company to pay her $1.6 million in compensatory damages, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Her lawyers argued that DuPont knew C8 could cause cancer and showed "conscious disregard" for the public by downplaying its dangers after dumping the chemical into the river from a plant near Parkersburg, W. Va., the AP reports. "They made the Ohio River their personal toxic dumping ground so they could make more money on Teflon," an attorney said in closing arguments.DuPont plans to appeal the case, and experts believe the company will probably end up settling with the plaintiffs—but not until there have been a few more trials. The physical plane is a very lunatic local reality. Let us be grateful that in time, our spirits shall gravitate toward others behaving in a mode of prolonged consciousness..

  3. Again, these corporations like Dupont and the 3M's of the world feed us these poisons because we consume them. Big Pharma advertises up front what the common side effects are, which includes killing us, and still we consume them? They're simply making a mockery of US, and we deserve what we get, don't we??? The way the profit seekers look at it, it's natures way of weeding out the most stupid. I don't blame the Dupont's one iota, I don't blame the central bankers, big pharma or any of them... It's US, the problem is looking at us in the mirror, no? We deserve to die in our own spoiled nest because we're too damn stupid. Yes, we're suffering from collective stupidity, we are the ones buying into what they're feeding us. We're the ones going off to war for them.... And I say good for THEM, they learned through the ages how stupid we all are as we play their games. If we're not smart enough to play another game then so be it, let us destroy ourselves in this one! Great for them, and yes, we do indeed get what we deserve!

    1. That argument only washes if you have a free, intelligent and widely educated populace. This obviously doesn't apply in the US or in most countries. As such, your argument boils down to 'let the strong devour the weak', or a version of 'survival of the fittest'. Neither concept has anything to do with compassionate human societies or wise governance.
      Further, a handful of greedy spoilt nations are destroying everyone else's biosphere and poisoning everyone with toxic products. It's not as if the world's poverty stricken population has any choice in the matter - just thoughtless moneygrubbing businessmen as usual.
      Sure you're not a neocon?

    2. A neocon? I simply see every side of ALL coins, Illuminator, especially the ones that are right in front of our faces. The neocons didn't invent the price system. I blame all of us who accept the price system at everyones great expense. The big corps are just capitalizing on our ignorance, and do you blame them? The system is NUTS, so what are the big corps going to do about it? They learned to screw others before they themselves are screwed in this dog eat dog world. Money-grubbing is the nature of the beast unless you have a plot of land that you can squat on as one barters away a scarce existence. You obviously have some survival skills to live in a remote jungle, Illuminator, but what about the rest of humanity who live in cities around the world? They need to survive and the only way one can get by and survive is by money-grubbing out an existence under the rules of any price system meritocracy. So you learn to sell, sell, sell a fictionally related BS product that we don't need. Really, why blame the big corporations who support making a living for thousands of their employees? If we want reality based changes, then stop buying into the myth of all corporate fictions, stop buying their poisons, and no great education is necessary for people to make decisions that act in harmonious accord with our fragile environment.. Just common sense, which we seem to be lacking here.

    3. 'Making a living' is almost always 'making a dying' - extinction and megadeath - under this feudal paradigm that masquerades as capitalism. As the duPont case also demonstrates, justice must be fought for if governance isn't doing its job. And it isn't. While we're ruled by Govcorp and competitive thinking even a technocracy would just be more of the same. Money is (obviously) an illusion, and as anyone who'se dealt in anything knows the price system is, too; the price inevitably ends up being whatever the market wil bear. Greed breeds inequity, and historically unionism and good governance are all that's wrested any power to the populace from the robber barons who pretend to be engaged in trade.
      Survival is actually quite easy outside the struggle system - rather than supporting it by your compliance, it's better to undermine it. One can do that from within, but it's far more rewarding to distance oneself from it as far as possible ;)
      We prefer the leeches out here in the jungle to the two-legged kind, as an Aboriginal elder hereabouts is fond of saying.


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