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Atlas Shrugging

It may be that Atlas is beginning to shrug.

You remember Atlas. The mythical giant who struggles to support the world on his mighty shoulders. One day, his strength gives out. Or his will. His desire to bear the burden.

So, he shrugs.

Volkswagen just did exactly that.

The automaker says it cheated on federal emissions tests because company engineers considered it “impossible” to pass them. Against the State: An ... Rockwell Jr., Llewelly... Best Price: $5.02 Buy New $5.52 (as of 11:35 UTC - Details)

Italics added.

Read that again.

A major-league automaker, with an entire engineering staff at its disposal, found itimpossible to comply with the federal government’s emissions fatwas. It would have required unacceptable (to VW’s customers) functional compromises – or unacceptable costs.

So, VW elected to shrug.

Utopia Towels Shop Tow... Buy New $19.99 (as of 10:05 UTC - Details) Screw the tests. Screw Uncle. We are in the business of building cars that must be appealing to our customers, such that they are willing to part with hard-earned money in exchange for them. If that means the cars are not “compliant” with the government’s endless laundry list of demands … well, so be it.

How long before others do something similar?

It is inevitable. Something has got to give.

Because the well is not bottomless. All the things demanded by government, someone’s got to pay for. And when there are no longer enough someones willing (or even able) to do so, the American economy will go the way of the Soviet economy.

This scenario was predicted by Ayn Rand 50-something years ago in her novel, Atlas Shrugged. In it, she depicted productive work as the object of persecution by useless-eating government bureaucrats, who imposed one Amazon.com $50 Gift Ca... Buy New $50.00 (as of 11:05 UTC - Details) unreasonable demand after another. Eventually, it became all-but-impossible to get anything productive done.

The productive decided to shrug.

Tailpipe exhaust emissions standards are just one example of real-world government demands that have become unreasonable – and which led VW to shrug.

Reasonable would be a requirement that 95 percent of a vehicle’s exhaust stream be free of noxious-to-health gasses. VW – and everyone else – met that standard about ten years ago.

It’s not enough.

It is never enough.

The demands always escalate.

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