Yesterday we asked whether the EPA (or some other regulatory agency) would have gone after GM like the EPA is going after VW, had GM done what VW is alleged to have done. We argued that it likely wouldn’t have. In the back of our minds was the recent GM ignition switch scandal which the US government didn’t seem very concerned about. Well, actually the government was concerned, but not for the public. The Obama administration didn’t want to make a big stink because GM, Government Motors, was a chosen “winner.” The administration had bailed out the Detroit based company for political reasons and it didn’t want to be embarrassed by a high profile example of incompetence. So what if over 150 people died?
When bailout-darling GM ‘fessed up to an intentional ignition-switch defect, tied to at least 174 deaths, The Justice Department fined them $900 million (and no employees faced criminal charges). So, in this consequence-less world in which we live, when Volkswagen admits to literally cheating emissions-standards tests, it faces up to $18 billion in fines from The EPA, one has to wonder whether “we” have our priorities right?