The Eagle Blog

Cheating

In 2004 David Callaghan wrote a book called The Cheating Culture, which purportedly provides many examples of why in America there is more “bending of the rules” today than in previous generations. Many of his examples are focused on cheating for economic gain or advancement. The simple example is the widespread practice of cheating on school assignments through plagiarism of assignments, but the overriding theme appears to be a growing willingness to break the rules. There were recent references to his book in CSO Online and I also found an article at Santa Clara University.

The growth of music sharing sites such as Napster were another example of our society’s willingness to break rules by sharing illegal downloads. By effectively shutting them down the recording industry were cast as villains, when in reality it is their rights that were violated but they are left in a no-win situation.

How does this apply to each of us in our day to day environments? I would suggest that one of the few things you have that no-one can take away, whether you are a corporation or an individual, is your integrity. You can however give it away … and we see that every day, often in small ways but they do have the ability to lead to large transgressions. I’ll bet the people who cheated at Enron and the other large corporate scandals did not start with “the big stuff”.

It starts small … a few extra dollars on the expense report; sneaking off early from work with no intention of making it up; perhaps taking some stationery from the office for the kids; perhaps it is using company resources for personal use … photocopying large documents in colour, surfing the internet etc. These are small things that many people today just think nothing about, and yet they are wrong.

What comes next? Maybe it is a trip at company expense? Maybe it is a computer finding its way home and not coming back? Maybe it is fudging the commission statements to get more pay or playing with stock option numbers. How far are we now from the Enron or Worldcom scandals? Will you add something fictitious to your resume? Will you “buy” a degree or certification over the internet?

I consider myself to be a fairly pragmatic person, and I do understand that rules get bent … the question has to be just where are the boundaries. Do we all have our own definition of integrity or should it be obvious and standard?

Integrity and honesty is something that we are all born with, that is easy to lose and not so easy to keep and yet it should be a priceless commodity that we protect. At the end of the day if you are not trusted then just what do you have?


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4 thoughts on “Cheating

  1. I think this is a lot of hogwash. Cheating is inherent in the economic system in which we operate. The fact that there is more of it now than in the past merely reflects the maturation of the system and those operating within in it. In essence, we are more aware of the system and how to take advantage of it.

    Now it’s unfortunate that this disadvantages those that want to live my “more traditional value systems” because they are the victims in this game. In essence every cultural change – including a movement to value systems that morally permit cheating – has winner (those that move with the direction) and loser (those that are repulsed at the change).

    I suggest that corproate malfeasance such as Enron have parrallels in many areas – the pratices of insider trading, adventurism in countires such as Iraq based upon trumped-up rationales, religious evangelists who lay weight on old people. There is no end to the examples of corrupt people and practices. You might as well wail at the people who, for personal motives, continue to ignore all evidence of global warming and its’ pending impacts.

    As for the music industry, who exempted them from the impact of technology. If the horse and buggy people had complained as bitterly with the advent of the “horseless carriage” the automobile industry may have never got its’ start. The truth is that the way the music industry has been financially rewarded in the past is not the same way it will be rewarded in the future. The internet and technology have the impact of lowering the value of information by vastly augmenting the means of its’ supply. An adjustment to accommodate this new reality is necessary. Cassette tapes and then CDs started the trend but they lacked the magnitude of the impact attributable to net and downloading. Now with the ability to transfer entire multi-gigabyte libraries the battle is lost. The new reality must be recognized not only for music but for video since it is equally impacted.

    There’s no point in railing against people who recognize this kind of change – just as there’s no reason to rail against those who take advanatge of present economic realities.

    I think in this reality its far more important for Government to watch the transgressions that affect the pensions and savings of the vast majority of people, rather than protecting segments of busuiness interests (such as music recording companies) from the inexorable effects of technological change.

  2. I think this is a lot of hogwash. Cheating is inherent in the economic system in which we operate. The fact that there is more of it now than in the past merely reflects the maturation of the system and those operating within in it. In essence, we are more aware of the system and how to take advantage of it.

    Now it’s unfortunate that this disadvantages those that want to live my “more traditional value systems” because they are the victims in this game. In essence every cultural change – including a movement to value systems that morally permit cheating – has winner (those that move with the direction) and loser (those that are repulsed at the change).

    I suggest that corproate malfeasance such as Enron have parrallels in many areas – the pratices of insider trading, adventurism in countires such as Iraq based upon trumped-up rationales, religious evangelists who lay weight on old people. There is no end to the examples of corrupt people and practices. You might as well wail at the people who, for personal motives, continue to ignore all evidence of global warming and its’ pending impacts.

    As for the music industry, who exempted them from the impact of technology. If the horse and buggy people had complained as bitterly with the advent of the “horseless carriage” the automobile industry may have never got its’ start. The truth is that the way the music industry has been financially rewarded in the past is not the same way it will be rewarded in the future. The internet and technology have the impact of lowering the value of information by vastly augmenting the means of its’ supply. An adjustment to accommodate this new reality is necessary. Cassette tapes and then CDs started the trend but they lacked the magnitude of the impact attributable to net and downloading. Now with the ability to transfer entire multi-gigabyte libraries the battle is lost. The new reality must be recognized not only for music but for video since it is equally impacted.

    There’s no point in railing against people who recognize this kind of change – just as there’s no reason to rail against those who take advanatge of present economic realities.

    I think in this reality its far more important for Government to watch the transgressions that affect the pensions and savings of the vast majority of people, rather than protecting segments of busuiness interests (such as music recording companies) from the inexorable effects of technological change.

  3. I really struggled in how to answer this comment, there is so much wrong in it!

    If cheating is OK because the technology exists then the human race has bigger problems than the stealing of music or video!

    Our society is governed by laws and acceptable behaviour. There will always be people who push the boundaries and that is how laws are modified over time. It is not your right as an individual to steal, cheat ot otherwise break laws just because you can.

    Yes, those who use the system to cheat will gain unfair advantage, like the steroid using athletes and the Enron executives. If we just capitulate and say it is OK, then we degenerate into a lawless society and that does not leave any winners.

    Society needs boundaries and they are created collectively, it is not the right of the individual to change them. WE, individuals and corporations, need to abide by an acceptable code of ethics or our society degenerates into lawlessness and anarchy … and no-one wins!

  4. I really struggled in how to answer this comment, there is so much wrong in it!

    If cheating is OK because the technology exists then the human race has bigger problems than the stealing of music or video!

    Our society is governed by laws and acceptable behaviour. There will always be people who push the boundaries and that is how laws are modified over time. It is not your right as an individual to steal, cheat ot otherwise break laws just because you can.

    Yes, those who use the system to cheat will gain unfair advantage, like the steroid using athletes and the Enron executives. If we just capitulate and say it is OK, then we degenerate into a lawless society and that does not leave any winners.

    Society needs boundaries and they are created collectively, it is not the right of the individual to change them. WE, individuals and corporations, need to abide by an acceptable code of ethics or our society degenerates into lawlessness and anarchy … and no-one wins!

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