Many of you who have followed me on Twitter or Facebook know that I believe in capitalism. What made this country great, and will again, is the competition that comes from capitalism. For some reason, in the minds of some, making a profit is viewed as a dirty endeavor. But it’s the striving to excel (and knowing that if you’re willing to put in hard work and effort it will pay off in the end) that made America a world leader in every field, especially innovation.
I credit capitalism for giving me the opportunity to come from Cuba with nothing and reap success from hard work. Having to compete for my place as a cop, then a lawyer, and then a judge allowed me to learn and to grow. Competition, In short, breeds innovation.
But with every good thing, there are always those who go to extremes. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be wealthy and working hard to reach that goal, there is something VERY wrong with the level of corporate greed that is willing to either injure people or steal from them in order to make more money.
When companies put profits over people, we lose our humanity. In recent years, we have seen injuries, and even deaths, as a result of drugs rushed to market by pharmaceutical companies and defective ignition switches in General Motors vehicles which were allowed to remain on the road for 10 years despite knowledge of the serious consequence to the public. There’s a difference between fair play and the kind of corporate greed perpetrated by Big Pharma and companies like GM. Their desire to maximize profits has made them callous, and as a result, thousands have been injured.
And on that note, let me introduce you to the German company, Volkswagen.
Starting in 2009, Volkswagen launched a line of “clean diesel” environmentally friendly cars, promising you and me that they were “painstakingly engineered without compromise to be more powerful and miraculously unleash 46 mpg highway.” Cars that gave you high performance, tremendous mileage AND were good for the environment seemed too good to be true! But when they were checked for emissions, their claims proved to be accurate! The cars WERE good for the environment … and powerful … while they “miraculously unleash 46 mpg highway” as Volkswagen claimed!
Although “miraculously” may not have been the right word. “Magically” might have been a better choice because everyone knows that magic is based on illusion; tricking people into believing that something is happening, when it actually isn’t. And in this case, the magicians were the people at Volkswagen.
Their cars were neither clean NOR economical; not by a long shot. How is that possible, you ask?
The engineers at Volkswagen inserted a specific computer code into their cars to fool U.S. regulators into believing the cars met our anti-pollution requirements. When the vehicle’s computer detected that the car was being tested for emissions, the car went into its “dyno calibration” mode, which made it run clean. Of course that means the engine actually COULD run clean, but not without sacrificing considerable power and fuel efficiency. When the car was NOT in the “dyno calibration” mode reserved for testing and was actually being driven, it blasted our environment with nitrogen oxides (which worsen respiratory problems like asthma) at 40 TIMES the acceptable EPA level.
To add insult to injury, from 2009 until today, Americans who were concerned about our environment and bought the “clean diesel” versions of the VW Jetta, VW Passat, VW Beetle, VW Golf and Audi A3, paid between $2,000 and $7,000 MORE than the non “clean diesel” version, for the privilege of unknowingly polluting our air at 40 times the normal rate. And the probe is only expanding. Recent reports reveal an investigation into larger Audi engines used in other cars, including the Porsche Cayenne SUV as well as other vehicles.
While I am helping owners of these vehicles to recover compensation for damages over what was clearly an intentional and complete fraud motivated by pure, unadulterated greed, the reality is that those lawsuits will make our clients whole but will not stop this type of corruption. If criminal charges are not brought against corporate executives and managers who knowingly steal from or injure their customers, the money they pay to the government in fines, and to their customers in damages, will simply be added to their cost of doing business. And the next fraud or tragedy won’t be far away.
« THEY MAY NOT BE TRYING TO KILL YOU, BUT THEY CERTAINLY DON’T CARE IF YOU DIE