Diary

Volkswagen, Boeing and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 - Incentivized Cheating

Volkswagen is having a very bad week.  It appears they figured out that it was more profitable to cheat than to comply with U.S. law.  It further appears that they outsmarted the testing protocols with relative ease for some period of time until the EPA discovered the “flaw”.

President Johnson launched the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to eradicate poverty.  President Bush extended it with No Child Left Behind.  Some Atlanta teachers and administrators recently were sentenced to prison for organized cheating on standardized tests, which are a part of ESEA and NCLB.

Both are examples of all-knowing Government trying to protect the ignorant by promulgating tests which are then undermined by participants within the testing process.  The fundamental belief is that Government cares more for the people than anyone else.  Government, empowered with sanctions, then states its purpose of protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.  Inevitably, exemptions are made to enforcement.  Inevitably, those who must comply with the law in order to earn their living often cheat, which in the end completely subverts the policies leading to those laws.

It is a poorly-kept secret that the Federal Government has incentives for contracting with minority-owned businesses.  The same is true for veterans.  So many companies founded by married couples place the wife as the CEO to receive better opportunities.  It is perfectly legal and done all the time.  Many businesses will place someone with alleged minority-status on the Letterhead to gain approval of all kinds of incentives, totally unrelated to merit.

Government incentivizes rampant cheating wherever fealty is acknowledged.  Boeing loves the Ex-Im Bank because it allows it to gain a competitive advantage funded by taxpayers.  For large businesses receiving corporate welfare, the Government is a piggy bank and the middle class the ones who replenish it.

Both political parties espouse a belief that corporate welfare is harmful.  Both espouse a belief that the poor should not be exterminated.  Where both differ is in what contexts a regulation is welfare and in what context the poor are actually being exterminated.

Recently, USC students elected a woman of Indian descent as student body president.  She was walking down the street when a fraternity member accosted her verbally.  The article itself was amusing in the use of the term “shocking” in its headline and the extent to which the Washington Post professes ignorance as to the type of language and action which cultural conflict breeds.  Even more interesting are the comments after the article, where one benighted soul claimed that the Republican party does not allow non-Christians in it.  Apparently, there are ready fools to adopt this viewpoint.  Someone needs to phone Eric Cantor and let him know.

Some people will never consciously cheat, some will cheat unless they feel they will be punished, and some will cheat under the right circumstances.  Lobbying, in many ways, is the art of understanding how to create those right circumstances.  In these cases, we have organizations that are being incentivized to cheat by Government.  The reward for cheating is higher profit and better wages.  The punishment for getting caught is reduced profit and, for teachers, prison.

I assume the EPA is embarrassing Volkswagen out of their own motivation.  Perhaps altruistic, but hardly likely.  They are trying to pick winners and losers.  That, in my mind, is not a laudable goal.