Capitalism and Its Regulation Delusion: Lessons From the Volkswagen Debacle

Volkswagen (VW), we now know, systematically evaded pollution control regulations. Over the last decade it defrauded 11 million buyers of its diesel-engine vehicles, fouled the planet’s environment and thereby damaged the health and lives of countless living organisms. Regulation-defeating deception gave VW diesel autos competitive advantages over other companies’ diesel products and thereby enhanced its profits, the driving purpose of capitalist corporations.

VW’s massive evasion was hardly the only socially destructive mockery of regulation. Ford and other auto companies had earlier done the same as Volkswagen, gotten caught and paid fines. Other auto companies have not yet been caught, but similar evidence has surfaced about diesel vehicles produced by Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi. Exposures and punishments, if and when they occur, clearly fall far short of dissuading major capitalists from evading regulations. Thus, we now know that General Motors and Toyota did not follow regulations recently requiring notification of government agencies after crashes, injuries and deaths associated with ignitions and airbags, respectively.

As products using computer devices increase, they spread opportunities for similar evasions of regulations. New mechanisms have enabled electrical appliance makers to falsify regulated energy-use tests. Capitalist competition and profit were motivators in these and many other regulation evasions too. The problem is endemic, for example, in the food and drink industry. Since 2008’s global capitalist crash, the world has learned of parallel failures…

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