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Paperback The Cheating Culture : Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead Book

ISBN: 0156030055

ISBN13: 9780156030052

The Cheating Culture : Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead

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Book Overview

Free cable television. Imaginary tax deductions. Do you take your chance to cheat? David Callahan thinks many of us would; witness corporate scandals, doping athletes, plagiarizing journalists. Why all the cheating? Why now? Callahan blames the dog-eat-dog economic climate of the past twenty years: An unfettered market and unprecedented economic inequality have corroded our values and threaten to corrupt the equal opportunity we cherish. Callahan's...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Cheating is everywhere

"Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong To Get Ahead; the cheating culture," by David Callahan is a shocking examination of the declining value of "integrity," in our society. The author informs us that, "ambition often promotes deviant behavior...and that inequality in income is reshaping our politics as wealthier Americans get more adept at turning money into influence...twisting rules to their benefit and escaping punishment when they break rules." Callahan thinks that there are four primary reasons for more cheating pressures...bigger rewards for winning...temptation...and trickle-down corruption. He puts the spotlight on the law profession, "the years 1960 to 1995 witnessed the transformation of corporate law firms in America from small, dignified, prosperous, conservative, white male professional partnerships dedicated to serving their clients and communities into large, aggressive, wealthy, self-promoting, diverse business organizations where money is often valued more highly than service to clients and community." In reality cheating is everywhere...on Wall Street, in Major League Baseball, in journalism, politics and in college admissions. Callahan thinks the key to giving people institutional faith is to promote a few simple principles...shared respect...and compassion for the weak. He also suggests teaching more "integrity," on the American campus. Recommended. Bert Ruiz

Gets Right to the Point: Cheating Destroys the Commonwealth

Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links. I recommend that this book be read together with John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and William Greider's, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy. As a pre-amble, I would note that a Nobel Prize was given in the late 1990's to a man that demonstrates that trust lowers the cost of doing business. Morality matters--immorality imposes a pervasive sustained, insidious, long-term, and ultimately fatal cost on any community, any Republic, and that is the core message of this book that most reviewers seem to be missing. Any student of national security can tell you that one of the most important sources of national power is the population, followed by the economy, natural resources, and then the more traditional sources of national power: diplomacy, military, law enforcement, and government policies generally. What this author makes clear is that our population has become a cheating population, one that cheats in school, cheats their employer, and cheats their clients (lawyers, accountants, doctors, all cheating). Such a population is literally undermining national security by creating false values, and undermining true values. Some simple examples: an estimated $250 Billion a year in individual tax avoidance; an estimated $600 Billion a year in theft from employers; an estimated $250 Billion a year in legalized corporate tax avoidance and investor fraud; and an additional $250 Billion a year in legalized theft form the individual taxpayers through Congressional support for unnecessary and ill-advised "subsidies" for agriculture, fishing, and forestry, as well as waivers of environmental standards that ultimately result in long-term external diseconomies... At root, the author observes that pervasive cheating ensues from the perception by the majority that "everyone does it" and that the rules are not being enforced--that "the system" lacks legitimacy. In other countries, illegitimacy might lead to revolution, a revolt of the masses. In the USA, still a very rich country, the poor are cheating on the margins while the rich are looting the country, and we are not yet at a "tipping point" such as a new Great Depression might inspire. This is a thoughtful book, and it does not deserve the negative comments from those whom the book most likely is describing all too well. Cheating diminishes trust and reduces value. America has become corrupt across all the professions, within Congress, within the media, within the political level of government (the civil service remains a bastion of propriety). What price freedom? What price the Republic? You may or may not choose to agree with this author's diagnosis and prescription, but in my view, he gets to the heart of the matter. It's about integrity. We've lost it. See also, with reviews: The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the Financial System Underminded Social Ideals, Damaged Trust in the Markets, Robbed Investors of Trillion

"Everybody's doing it."

David Callahan's new book, "The Cheating Culture," is a timely look at why and how so many Americans engage in morally ambiguous behavior in order to succeed in school, sports, and business. Some people cheat to make money; others do it to make themselves look more accomplished than they really are. Callahan explores not only why people cheat, but also how American institutions encourage cheating, and what we, as a society, should do to reverse this growing and alarming trend.Callahan fills his book with a host of examples, including lawyers who overcharge their clients, doctors who are paid by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe inappropriate drugs, students who cheat on their SAT's, athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs, and corporate bigwigs who engage in financial chicanery. He also cites examples of famous cheaters, such as Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, who were convicted and served jail time for their financial crimes, and Kenneth Lay, the top man at Enron, who has still not been prosecuted for his role in a huge scandal that rocked the business world."The Cheating Culture" is a thorough and very readable account of a serious problem in our society that receives far too little attention. The many anecdotes and interviews in this book bring home the pervasiveness and even the institutionalization of cheating in our country.I give particularly high marks to the final chapter of "The Cheating Culture," in which Callahan offers his ideas for attacking the problem head on. The author suggests that we attempt to rediscover and reinforce the principles of honesty, teamwork, and shared responsibility in our homes, schools, and businesses. Callahan believes that children should be taught ethical behavior in school and parents should be careful to set a proper example for their children. He also suggests that the federal government take its role as a watchdog more seriously, policing and punishing those who evade taxes, engage in creative accounting, and steal from their shareholders. Before we tackle a problem, we have to recognize that it exists. David Callahan's excellent book is a step in the right direction.


"Lately, conservatives haven't had much to complain about. Many aspects of Americans' personal behavior have changed in recent years. Crime is down. Teenage pregnancy is down. Drunk driving is down. Abortion is down. Opinion surveys suggest that Americans are growing more concerned about personal responsibility, as conservatives have narrowly defined that term. And much of the supposed 'deviance' that conservatives have anguished about for a quarter century has been waning."Still, cheating is up. Cheating is everywhere. By cheating I mean breaking the rules to get ahead academically, professionally, or financially. Some of this cheating involves violating the law, some does not. Either way, most of it is by people who, on the whole, view themselves as upstanding members of society. Again and again, Americans who wouldn't so much as shoplift a pack of chewing gum are committing felonies at tax time, betraying the trust of their patients, misleading investors, ripping off their insurance company, lying to their clients, and much more."Something strange is going on here. Americans seem to be using two moral compasses. One directs our behavior when it comes to things like sex, family, drugs, and traditional forms of crime. A second provides us ethical guidance in the realm of career, money, and success."The obvious question is: Where did we pick up that second compass?" So asks David Callahan in this fascinating look at where we are headed in America. Led by doped-up sports icons, doctors with bogus prescriptions, auto repair guys who find more to fix then is really wrong, corrupt stockbrokers, and ready-to-buy politicians, the leaders of the parade are the corporate executives. Of course, the amoral behavior by corporate executives is dictated by stockholders who, of course, are us and our parents and friends and our retirement portfolio managers. So where are we all going? "Cheating is not a new problem in the United States or anywhere else. It has existed in nearly every human society."In Ancient Greece, the Olympic games were rife with cheating. Athletes lied about their amateur status, competitions were rigged, judges were bribed. Those caught were forced to pay fines to a special fund used to set up statues of Zeus. Greece ended up with a lot of statues of Zeus." There are a set of interrelated influences that the author believes are the cause of the current cheating epidemic in America--the increased pressures of job competition and insecurity, the widening rewards gap between the winners and losers in our economic system, the relentless trend toward deregulation that enhances temptation, and the belief by so many people that the system is so utterly corrupt that they have no fair shot at attaining the American Dream in an ethical manner. THE CHEATING CULTURE is an eye-opening introduction to the real world. It will enlighten high school students as to how their peers are adroitly eluding obstacles that might interfere with becoming rich, famo

Insightful look at contemporary economic life

Callahan's book deserves attention because we need to begin looking at the broader questions of "why a lot of things aren't working." Too often government and social agencies opt for a quick fix, such as longer prison sentences or denial of benefits, rather than examining the underlying question: "Why did this happen in the first place?" Callahan neither points nor shakes fingers. He does not condone cheating but explores social influences that encourage and reward cheating. Most important, he shows how lines have blurred between cheater and victim. Many people cheat on auto insurance, he says, but in fact these poorly-regulated insurance companies turn their customers into victims. And the institutions we're taught to trust, such as the medical system, cheat us too. Doctors who join multi-level marketing programs not only prescribe unnecessary products but also try to recruit their patients into a money-making scheme! Callahan focuses on economic pressures that drive ordinary people to cheat, especially "Winner Takes All." If losing means losing everything, there's enormous incentive to do whatever it takes to win.If anything, Callahan doesn't go far enough. He notes that parents hire "coaches" to help children get into colleges and "tutors" who sometimes do the work for the children. But here's the irony. Many coaches, tutoring services and ghost writers earn more than teachers. Well-paid teachers with a reasonable workload might make their services unnecessary.At one writing conference, a young man openly told a whole table of horrified listeners, "I earn a lot more ghostwriting term papers at the University of X than when I was an adjunct professor at the same university." Then again, has any culture or civilization ever truly rewarded integrity? During World War II, the US government advertised buying bonds as an act of patriotism -- but some economists say the real motive was to tame the fires of inflation. Before the days of informed consent, who knows how many unnecessary medical procedures were performed? We may not be cheating more than any previous culture -- it's just harder to hide and we're more willing to point self-righteous fingers at those who are caught. Like Callahan, I don't condone cheating, but I find myself frustrated with a system that punishes individuals who get caught while rewarding those who create situations that put those same individuals between a rock and a hard place.
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