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The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead (2004)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156030055, Paperback)Cheating, argues author David Callahan, is no longer the exclusive purview of lowlife criminals, slick hucksters, and shady characters with ace cards shoved in secretive places. Now everyone's doing it and because everyone sees everyone else doing it, they keep on doing it. Callahan says the trouble begins in America's brutally competitive economic climate, which rewards results and looks the other way when it comes to the ethical and even criminal transgressions of those who come out on the winning end. Certainly there is no shortage of examples of cheating from the business community, and Callahan nimbly dissects the dishonest actions of the usual suspects (Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing) to demonstrate how that same mentality extends out to our educational system, amateur and professional sports, the news media, and even the lives of common citizens who, while they would never think of themselves as being cheaters, are nevertheless inclined to commit the occasional act of beneficial fudging. And while honesty is a nice ideal, Callahan says that cheaters cheat because, contrary to oft-repeated axioms, cheaters win: the chances of being caught are shrinking as are the punishments meted out should one be nabbed, and the benefits of a successful cheat far outstrip any potential threat. Further, Callahan posits that otherwise upright folks who would not cheat are drawn into the practice out of fear that they simply won't be able to make it in modern society otherwise. There's a lot of material for Callahan to work with here, given that every instance of cheating is fair game as source material and is able to be used to construct a theory of epidemic. And the range of material is so broad and the basic argument ("we cheat more") so simple that The Cheating Culture feels a bit like a Newsweek trend piece writ extremely large. Still, it must be noted that Callahan really had all that material to work with and that fact alone is compelling evidence that his premise is dead on. --John Moe
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:11 -0400)
Cheating on every level has risen dramatically in the last two decades. Why all the cheating? Callahan pins the blame on the dog-eat-dog economic climate of the past two decades. An unfettered market and unprecedented economic inequality have corroded our values, he argues-and ultimately threaten the level playing field so central to American democracy itself.
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