The scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen over the measurement of oxides of nitrogen has been held up as yet another example of large companies pursuing profitability by dubious means at the expense of the rest of the population. But this is an oversimplification.

We want the best of all worlds, and messages from government try to convince us this is deliverable. We want cars that are cheap, frugal and that don’t pollute the environment or trigger climate change, aircraft that allow us to holiday in the Bahamas or Thailand without building new runways or making life unbearable under their flight path and a health service that provides ever-increasing amounts of care to an ageing population without putting up taxes.