The VW Situation

If you read this blog regularly, you know I am a big fan of diesel.  I drive a BMW X5 diesel that I bought on Jan 1, 2009.  We have over 120k miles on it and it’s been a great car.  I like the performance, but I also like the fact that it’s green.  BMW has told me, and so have countless magazine articles that the car doesn’t pollute because the exhaust is treated with urea.

No doubt, you have heard that VW fudged the numbers on their diesel to save some money.  Their CEO was recently fired and their stock is in a tailspin.

You know what really bugged me about this whole situation?  Not the fact that VW lied.  Certainly that is bad.  But it was the way the CEO talked about the situation after being found out. Here it is.

It’s a slick production. It’s as if CEO actually enjoyed the attention, like it was some tech product launch.

At it’s core, what really bugged me about this was ethics. When floor traders get together and talk about doing business in the “real world”, one thing that always comes up is ethics. People in business often aren’t ethical. They aren’t true to their word. They always do things behind your back to try and get an edge. For some reason, this is especially true in real estate. But, I see it in other things too.

The US government isn’t ethical anymore. It is subject to the same foibles. Just look at Hillary Clinton and the series of lies she has told around her email situation-or any other scandal that she has been associated with. It’s not about telling the truth, it’s about spin to get an edge. There are many many other examples from each political party.

That’s one of the great things that I took from the floor and also my brief stint at the US Air Force Academy. At the Academy it was “We will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate it among us”. On the floor it was, “Your word is your bond”. There would always be people that stretched it. But, they wouldn’t last there long.

It’s refreshing to be with someone that is transparent. It’s also off putting to people since they aren’t used to it. VW didn’t have ethics. Now that failure might take down the whole company.