Volkswagen AG executive Oliver Schmidt is due to be sentenced this week for cheating Uncle. He faces seven years in federal prison and up to $400,000 in fines. His professional life is, of course, kaput. He will never work again.
And his personal life is probably ruined, too. Not many wives stand by their convicted felon.
Schmidt is only 48 years old and his life is over. All because he along with other VW executives and engineers cheated on federal emissions tests, which amounts to the same thing as making a right turn on red when theres clearly no traffic around. A violation of statute; no actual harm caused to anyone.
But the affront to the authority of the state, that is another matter. Its why cops lurk in wait at intersections in the middle of the night, waiting to waylay a right-on-redder. The cop can see its safe to make the turn. He knows no one is threatened with any harm as a result of the perfectly safe right turn, the red light notwithstanding.
But the law must be obeyed which is another way of saying the states authority must never be questioned.
Same thing here.
Schmidt harmed no one. VWs diesels harmed no on. The only evidence adduced to convict Schmidt and nail him and VW to the cross is the hearsay speculation of EPA bureaucrats, who claim that microcosmic, fractional differences in the output of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a byproduct of combustion, are harmful.
In the same way that making a right on red with no one around is.
The EPA and federal courts were not required to prove that anyone (literally, any one even a single actual human being) was harmed by the cheating. Just as it is not necessary to establish that a right-on-red harmed anyone.
The only thing that matters is that the government be obeyed regardless of the fatuity of the offense.
Schmidt and VW regarded this as absurd just as any normal person regards it as idiotic to sit stupidly at a red light in the middle of the night and not make that turn when its obvious theres no one else around for miles.
But after a few months in Room 101, poor Schmidt has come around.
Like Winston Smith after his conversion, Schmidt loves Uncle now. He has written the judge who will preside over his sentencing a mewling apologia in which he states that he feels misused by his former employer.
I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or Dieselgate, Schmidt wrote to U.S. Federal Judge Sean Cox, according to a letter filed in court and which was published by Germanys Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
In hindsight, I should never have agreed to meet with Dr. Ayala on that day, he wrote describing a meeting with Alberto Ayala, a California Air Resources Board bureaucrat.
Or better yet, I should have gone to that meeting and ignored the instructions given to me and told Dr Ayala that there is a defeat device in the VW diesel engine vehicles and that VW had been cheating for almost a decade. I did not do that and that is why I find myself here today.
Californias emissions rigmarole is even more fatuous than federal fatuity.
VW was under immense pressure to get its cars certified for sale in what is still for the moment the countrys largest market for new cars. So a little harmless shuck and jive occurred. Bureaucrats were bamboozled. This kind of thing used to be applauded as Yankee Ingenuity but today is regarded as almost a kind of mental aberration, like not loving Big Brother or really seeing those fingers . . .
. . . OBrien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended. How many fingers am I holding up, Winston? And if the party says that it is not four but five then how many? The word ended in a gasp of pain.
One wonders whether a couple of years hence we will find a watery-eyed Schmidt drowning himself in Victory Gin at the Chestnut Tree Cafe . . . .. . .