I had a couple responses to my claim that the Volkswagen emissions test cheating “amounts to an act of civil disobedience.” A liberal friend from Mason City said she laughed out loud at the claim. A conservative from Garner said no one risked their lives as in the 60’s protests and besides it was an act of fraud toward their customers and a felony.
First of all, I’m glad I could inspire laughter. That’s healthy; healthier than breathing from a tailpipe. Let’s address the health issue. Europe focused on CO2 emissions in their regulations because they believed that the substance that plants breathe traps warmth in the atmosphere. The nitrogen particulates from diesel engines and their impact on health took a back seat to fixing global warming. Now European cities are banning older and dirtier diesels.
In the U.S., regulations emphasized the more immediate concern of the air we breathe.
Present day statists often seem to forget that the civil disobedience of the 60’s were actually protests against government laws. The reaction to the protests resulted in not only fairer laws for minorities, but some laws that took away civil rights, such as the “right to refuse service to anyone.” Taking a right to grant a right goes against the idea that our rights are not gifts from politicians, but something we naturally possess.
Liberals and conservatives have both made it a habit to misconstrue the Constitution. Shouldn’t the basis of federal law be that document, the original “law of the land?”
Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Given that the Constitution was written in a form designating what the federal government was tasked to do and Amendment Ten excluded it from doing anything else, the EPA itself, is clearly an illegal abuse of federal power.
That might seem like it opens the door to environmental catastrophe like we never imagined, eh? Not too fast. The 14,000 employees at the EPA could never cover this country and regulate it to perfection. All you have to do is a simple survey of totalitarian countries compared to countries where there is some semblance of a guarantee of private property to see where a clean environment predominates the landscape.
Oftentimes government power is used by people of influence for profit, rather than for an actual common good. With the widely accepted notion that diesel is 30% more efficient than gasoline, it would be easy to speculate that there is profit to be made by making emissions standards more stringent for nitrogen oxides (a product of diesels) than other pollutants in order to generate $20 billion per year more revenue for oil companies.
So far, this abuse of federal power has cost VW $30 billion. Nitrogen oxides are only a concern in urban areas where they produce smog. The amount of nitrogen oxides produced by diesel engines is dwarfed by those produced through natural processes. The same goes for CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels in general. These facts should alert us to why the Constitution limited federal power as a way to stifle opportunists from using the law for profit instead of letting profit come from the actions of willing buyers and sellers.
When I lived in Oakland, I firmly believed that private vehicles should be banned from San Francisco (across the bay). The cable cars, buses and trolleys were an amazing system. Cabs could fill in the gaps. Private vehicles could be stored outside of town for trips in the country. It would be within the authority of a county or city to do this. And if you didn’t like it you could move. Your diesel car could then save you enough money to rent a nice garage.
The reason the U.S. is so desirable is the lack of a one-size-fits-all regulatory state that strangles innovation and the ability to locate where our desires fit the community. There are plenty of cookie cutter societies around the world that offer free everything with hidden costs. We should quit trying to emulate them, we should be the alternative.
Finally, for the U.S. government to fine VW for destruction of the environment is the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard of. On average, we drop a bomb every 12 minutes. Who cares about that?