First-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020).  Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution.  More about Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1.  List and general description of entries to date. 

Note: most characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  Profile of characters.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments. 

Scene: coffee shop near office. Jordan meets Matt, a reporter for a major newspaper. Matt interviewed Jordan for an earlier series of articles.

Jordan: “Matt, been a long time. Nice to see you.”

092615_2031_Characters11.pngMatt: “Nice to see you Jordan.”

Jordan: “Tell me about the book you’re working on.”

Matt: “That’s one of the reasons I called you. Before we talk about the book, I want to ask you about an issue that still troubles me…and that you can provide some insight.”

Jordan: “What’s that?”

Matt: “The VW emissions debacle – programming the software to rig the emissions tests. And I have it on good authority that someone in POTUS’ office called you for advice when it happened.”

021214_1242_24Resultsof1.gifJordan: “You know I can’t confirm whether anyone called, even though it’s a few years later. What I can tell you is what I would have told them if they had called.”

Matt: “OK, we’ll frame the conversation as a hypothetical. I’ll pretend I’m from POTUS’ office. Now, what’s your take on what really happened at VW?”

Jordan: “I only know what I read in the papers. But if what has been reported is anywhere close to the facts, the action by VW was the most blatant violation of federal auto laws by far. Nothing else comes close.”

Matt: “I know this might sound odd but what’s so blatant? Other companies have violated safety laws. VW’s violation was only emissions.”

vwJordan: “C’mon. Emissions are a safety issue…a safety issue for society. But the real difference is VW violated the laws knowingly. And from all indications, the violations were directed by senior management.”

Matt: “You really think senior management knew?”

Jordan: “If senior management didn’t know, they all should be fired. Probably should be fired anyway. I mean, the head of US operations – Horn, Michael Horn – was told at least two years before the public announcement.”

Matt: “So one of his underlings says, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ And the top dog responds, ‘OK.'”

TurtleneckJordan: “Allegedly, Mr. Horn – great name for a car guy – never bothers to probe. Where were such questions as, ‘What is the problem?’; ‘How severe?’; ‘What are the consequences?’; ‘How long will it take to get fixed?’; ‘Were any EPA or NHTSA rules broken?’; ‘What will the fix cost?’; and a bunch of other obvious questions you’d expect from senior management.”

Matt: “As bad as VW’s violation was, they’re not the first. What’s different about VW than say GM’s failure of the ignition switch?

Jordan: “Fair question. I think two major differences. First GM was at fault for the design. No question. But the intent to defraud, if there was one, was confined to one or two people. I am not aware of any senior managers charged with fraud.”

GM-Ignition-recall-2014Matt: “Shouldn’t GM have caught the failure in testing or at least a potential problem during a review of the specifications?”

Jordan: “Yes. My understanding is the design engineer also signed off on the changes. No having an independent review was a mistake and a flaw in GM procedures.”

Matt: “What’s the second difference?”

Jordan: “People get upset when I explain – and claim – some of the deaths linked to the ignition switch failure can be attributed to driver behavior.”

Matt: “How so. Doesn’t seem right, but how so?”

Jordan: “You know enough about cars that if the power steering and power brakes…actually power-assisted steering and brakes…fail you can still maneuver and stop the car.”

Matt: “My grandfather had an old pick-up truck that he used to let me drive. The truck had manual steering and brakes. It was a bit harder to steer but not that much.”

Jordan: “Most of the deaths attributed the ignition switch were younger people so it’s doubtful the drivers had any experience, or even knowledge, of operating a car without power steering and brakes. Plus…”

Matt: “Plus what?”

seat_belt_required_signJordan: “Some of the drivers and occupants were not wearing seatbelts. Probably one out of every 5 or 6 people, maybe more.”

Matt: “Hadn’t thought about not wearing belts. Belts are operated mechanically and work whether or not the car has any power.”

Jordan: “Like I said, not a very popular observation. I’m not saying GM’s not at fault. Just that the effort to deceive was confined to a couple of people.”

Matt: “I know we could talk about problems at Toyota, the airbag supplier Takata but let’s go back to VW. What do you think the penalty should be?”

Jordan: “You mean, what did I tell POTUS’ office had they asked?”

Matt: “Yes, had they asked.”

Jordan: “At a minimum VW needs to fix the 11,000,000 diesel cars with the emissions override program. Then for customers who are dissatisfied with lower performance, lower mpg, or whatever, VW should buy back the cars.”

Matt: “At what price?”

Jordan: “Current list price. No allowance for depreciation. And maybe even some sales tax. People have to buy another car.”

Matt: “What about people who want to keep their VW?”

Jordan: “Some compensation for reduced value of the used car.”

Matt: “What about penalties?”

Money-clip-artJordan: “The potential fine in the US is something like $18, billion. That’s 18 and nine zeros. Not sure about Europe.”

Matt: “What about the government forcing VW to cease operations? At least stop selling in the US.”

Jordan: “Doing so might make some people feel good. But doing so makes the current owners SOL, as it were. If the market forces them out of business, OK. But the government should not.”

Matt: “No easy solutions. What about the VW executives?”

PrisonerJordan: “Someone or some bodies need some jail time. There was clear intent by VW management to defraud. Defraud government, consumers and the general public. The icing on the cake is VW sought Green Seal approval. Imagine, a Green Seal for a car that spewed out 40 times allowable emissions. What gall. Anything less than jail time would not be a deterrent for others.”

Matt: “Thanks for the briefing…just in case POTUS’ office asked for your opinion. Let’s get more coffee, then back to the book.”