I Cheated; Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?
by, 11-30-2010 at 03:50 PM (3340 Views)
Initially I posted this as and Off Topic forum thread. Because of it's length, I probably should have posted it as a blog. I hope this peice engenders some thought. In case you've been living in a cave, the Great Recession is changing fundamental aspects of American life, just as the Great Depression did. Is it time for us to question our preconceptions about the society in which we live? This blog is about something that has interested me for a long time, which is our wink-nod relationship with cheating.
In the wake of the Broncos videotaping a 49'ers walk through in London, Spygate returned to the news. Fines have been levied and it appears the story has been tamped down, but it leaves the question hanging, is it wrong to cheat in sports? And as far as that goes, is it wrong to cheat at anything?
We have in our society a certain ideal of fairness, but is that really practiced at all, or are we just trying to feel better about ourselves? It seems that fairness is something that is most important to children. They have a keen sense of getting the short end of the stick, but as they grow older that seems to fade away.
Most high school students cheat on their tests. You may have seen the parody of this, the movie Stand And Deliver, and Spygate on an episode of South Park. Undereducated inner city kids are taught by teacher Eric Cartman to excell...at cheating...and they are successful.
With cell phones and Google, there is no telling if a students grades mean anything. Are we wrong to not exert more control over these kids, or should we be concerned that inspite of rampant cheating, our kids lag far behind the rest of the developed world in education? Are we failing to teach our children the proper way to cheat?
As we get older we continue to find opportunities to cheat. Most people falsify information on job applications. We've all done it. I'm reminded of perennial candidate Christine O'Donnell. Running for Senate from Delaware it was revealed her educational credentials are bogus. Although she lost the election, tens of thousands voted for her anyway, and her fraudulent claims of an Oxford degree didn't seem to figure in her loss nearly as much as her claiming to have dabbled in witchcraft. Latest reports are she is going to be a continuing figurehead in the tea party movement, and is being considered for "Dancing With the Stars".
How about taxes? Who hasn't cheated on their taxes? Do you report and pay sales tax on items you buy on the internet? Many websites advertise "No Sales Tax" as a form of discount. In fact, there is a huge underground economy in the U.S.
Ever wonder how huge landcape maintanance companies can employ armies of Guatemalans (they work cheaper than Mexicans) to maintain the lawns and fairways of our golf course communities. This isn't some guys swimming the Rio Grande, but thousands of workers recruited in their home countries, brought into this country illegally, and working in plain sight. When my wife worked for Bank of America, they were coached on how to help these workers get neccessary ID to cash their checks. B of A also bought a bank in Mexico to expedite wire transfers of funds to families back home. Many of these workers get their paychecks cashed by their "padrone", who takes a big chunk for getting the checks cashed without ID, working with an unscrupless merchant or banker who is also cheating the system.
In fact, as was illustrated in the California governors race, the wealthiest Americans, the ones with the least need to cheat, routinely knowingly employ illegals in their homes. Do they really need to save the money, or is it just an indication of the systemic and widespread dishonesty in society.
You have to give some credit to those who are honest enough to say "If you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough." Just look at Wall Street. They in essence told the banks they would buy as many mortgages as the banks could write, regardless of the worthiness of the borrower. They converted them into another financial instrument, paid off the rating agencies to rate them AAA, and sold them to hedge funds and pension funds. Faced with the ramifications, the government was forced to bail everybody out. So far, only Bernie Madoff went to jail. Why? Bernie made the biggest mistake you can make, he stole from rich people.
In a communication to a member of Congress urging the non-enforcement of recently passed legislation to regulate Wall Street, an officer at Citibank informed the Congressman that enforcing the rules that would prohibit FDIC insured funds from being used for risky investments would only cause the banks to "game the system". In other words, if you try to regulate us, then we will just cheat, so don't bother.
How about members of Congress? Take Bob Dole. He got out of the service after WWII and was urged by local businessmen to run for office. He came out of the war wounded, and as broke as my dad and many others but with some local backing he ran and won. He left the Senate many years later after an unsuccessful presidential run a very wealthy man. How? Investments. When members of Congress invest their rate of return is spectacular. Their stock portfolios outperform the average investor by quite a bit. I'm sure as we speak, members of Congress are making piles of money in real estate even in this market. And this is all without taking a bribe.
Athletes invest their money and history shows how poorly they do. Congressman invest and never fail. Are they smarter than athletes? Have you heard Michelle Bachman?
I could go on and on but this is already a long post.
Let me close with this. I coached Little League for three years and had a ball. The kids were great. The adults not so much. My team was at a distinct disadvantage because I refused to cheat. With only one umpire it's not hard to leave base early and other teams clearly coached this. When that didn't work, some managers physically intimidated the umpires. The best players were placed on teams with managers who had pull with the league. New guys and outsiders were given rosters of full of kids that had never played before. They were alsogiven the worst practice times to ensure a low turnout, and often access to equipment like pitching machines and even bats and balls was limited to the favored teams so as not to engender open competition. The fact that I refused to let my kids break the rules was frowned upon by some of the parents. After three years, when my original kids moved on, I was only too happy to resign.
Really after all this I'm only scratching the surface of cheating in our society, but I'm interested to get your honest (?) input. Should we just quit pretending it matters, and admit who we really are. I have heard that the French language has no word for "fairplay".
It reminds me of the final episode of Seinfeld; as the plane was plummeting to the ground and it seemed as though it was curtains and it was time for a little soul searching...
"Jerry, remember the contest? Well, I cheated."
"Yea, I won. But why did you cheat?"
"Because I'm a cheater!"
Well played, Mr. Peanut.