It’s been reported that Joerg Kerner, Porsche’s chief of powertrain development, has been SWATTED by armed (German) government workers for suspected “cheating” on the government’s emissions tests.
Kerner is being held in a cage, sans bail – having been deemed a “flight risk,” according to reports. Three other “suspects” are also being investigated.
Earlier this week German prosecutors searched around 10 premises in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg as well.
You’d think someone had been harmed.
As every reader here already knows, this “cheating” business is a classic example of what lawyers call malum prohibitum – something which is prohibited by law. It differs in kind from malum in se – an act that is harmful regardless of the law.
“Cheating” a speed trap by using a radar detector is an example of malum prohibitum. It’s against the law. There is a statute. If you are caught, you will be punished. But there is no moral stigma – and if the statute didn’t exist, no one would feel guilty about using a radar detector (and most normal people don’t feel guilty even if there is a statute). The reason why is simple enough: The use of the radar detector doesn’t harm anyone else; it merely protects you from being harmed by an armed government worker looking to extract revenue on the basis of a statute.
VW’s “cheating” is the same thing, scaled up.
Actually, not quite – because the “cheating” involved regulations. A statute is at least a law, passed into law by lawmakers – who are at least vaguely accountable to the people who elected them. But a regulation is a mere bureaucratic fatwa. It is literally of a piece with the religious injunctions issued by Ayatollahs. No one elected them – and no one elected the regulators who wrote the emissions rigmarole, either.
Yet the rigmarole has the force of law. As is the case with the real thing, in countries where Sharia law is the law. And the Ayatollahs who issue those fatwas will not tolerate disobedience.
Kerner – and before him, VW’s Oliver Schmidt – have been given the Full Treatment even though their “crimes” have yet to produce any tangible evidence of harm to anyone except the affronted authority of the regulatory Ayatollahs.
Contrast what has happened to them with what has not happened to, for instance, George W. Bush – who pretty clearly “cheated” the country into an aggressive war (ongoing, years after the real evildoer retired to his Texas ranch) which resulted in very tangible harm to hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
Mass murder – vs. “cheating” on a government test.
And that test – as has been explained here at length on prior occasions – involves angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin differences in exhaust emissions; levels so negligible as to be meaningless.
VW/Audi (and Porsche) are portrayed by an unknowing or complicit media as purveying to the public the equivalent of a 1969 Dodge Polara with an out-of-adjustment four barrel carburetor, two bad spark plugs and no catalytic converter.
But the “cheating” diesels were so got-damned clean no one noticed – much less smelled anything – until a busybody decided to run the cars through a gantlet of tests and – behold! – discovered a fractional difference in the exhaust product when the cars were not in “test loop” mode. VW’s crime was to embed software in the computer which made the cars compliant with the government’s ridiculously strict (a hair’s breadth away from “zero emissions”) standards while being tested, but emit fractionally higher amounts when out on the road.
This is not well-understood – which is why the government (the one here and the one in Germany) has been able to portray Schmidt and Kerner and others as malignant. Talk of “up to 40 times higher than permitted” emissions.
“Up to” – but not necessarily actually. And “up to” “40 times” isn’t much when we’re not even talking whole numbers. The emissions at issue are fractions of a whole number, the difference between one regulatory “bin” and “tier” and the next up (or down) “bin” and “tier.”
VW/Audi/Porsche – the company and its people – are in the frying pan not for any harms they’ve caused; arguably, their “cheating” diesels did lots of tangible good – by saving their owners lots of money by using less fuel. The automaker and its people – talented, productive people such as Schmidt and Kerner, both of whom are brilliant engineers – are in the hot seat for having dared to affront Uncle and his useless eater regulatory minions.
The persecution of these men – and of the company they work for – over a trumped-up malum prohibitum is the very essence of malum in se.
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