Will those responsible be charged?
We see it happening on the news. One greedy scandal after the next, it seems. In a way we become immune to it and most of us tend to think that the corporates will get away with it. Remember all that subprime debacle almost ten years ago? Who is paying the price apart from pensioners who have lost a lot of equity?
As an ordinary Joe Public:
- you drive a smidgen too fast
- you drive a smidgen over the alcohol limit
- you forget to pay all your taxes
- you put the wrong rubbish into the trash can
With the recent VW scandal, will anyone really get punished? I don't just mean early retirement ( let's not forget that they usually take early retirement with millions of Euros ) but time served and money taken away. It almost seems that there are two different set of rules when it comes to big business and J.Public.
What causes most of us to do the right thing and not commit a crime? The threat and fear of punishment of course. Perhaps the severity of corporate punishment should be moved up a notch. By the way, personally I tend to think that the only punishment worthy of deterring would be cheaters, is taking all their money away.
But let's step back a bit and work out why there is this necessity to make profit all the time. The big corporations are mostly owned by shareholders. Shareholders who demand a dividend a few times per year. If the company does badly, executives get shown the door, and shareholders move on to a seemingly better deal.
The pressure to make a profit seems huge. What about if once you buy a share of a business, you have to keep it for at least a year? No business can be profitable all the time and if the boss knows that a loss won't cost him is job, perhaps the temptation to cut corners is gone.
The sad part of this VW scandal is that it affects thousands of VW staff,
- who have worked hard
- and are honest
- and loyal
- and are not responsible for any of this