9780156030052

The Cheating Culture

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780156030052

  • ISBN10:

    0156030055

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-12-01
  • Publisher: Mariner Books

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Summary

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 "Winning Class" has created a separate moral reality where it cheats without consequences-while the "Anxious Class" believes choosing not to cheat could cancel its only shot at success in a winner-take-all world. Updated with a new afterword analyzing the latest on cheating from the Martha Stewart trial to the Tyco and Enron sentencings, The Cheating Culture takes us on a gripping tour of cheating in America and makes a powerful case for why it matters.

Author Biography

David Callahan is cofounder and director of research at the public policy center Demos. The author of five books, he has also pub-lished articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post and is a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
"Everybody Does It"p. 1
Cheating in a Bottom-line Economyp. 28
Whatever It Takesp. 63
A Question of Characterp. 98
Temptation Nationp. 134
Trickle-down Corruptionp. 167
Cheating from the Starting Linep. 196
Crime and No Punishmentp. 225
Dodging Brazilp. 259
Afterwordp. 297
Sourcesp. 309
Endnotesp. 315
Indexp. 349
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

"Everybody Does It"I PLAYED A LOT OF MONOPOLY GROWING UP. LIKE MOST PLAYERS of the game, I loved drawing a yellow Community Chest card and discovering a "bank error" in my favor-"Collect $200!" It never occurred to me not to take the cash. After all, banks have plenty of money and if one makes an error in your favor, why argue?I haven't played Monopoly in twenty years, but I'd still take the $200 today. And what if a real bank made an error in my favor? That would be a tougher dilemma.Such things do happen.Just to the east of where the Twin Towers once stood is a twenty-six-story office building that houses the Municipal Credit Union of New York City. The credit union has 300,000 members-federal, state, and city government employees-and over $1 billion in assets. Although a number of buildings near Ground Zero sustained serious damage when the towers came down, the MCU's glass-and-steel building on Cortlandt Street survived unscathed. However, the credit union did suffer a major computer failure that severed its link to the New York Cash Exchange (NYCE), the largest network of automatic teller machines in the Northeast.The network managers at NYCE quickly detected the severed link. The problem meant that while credit union members could withdraw money at cash machines, NYCE couldn't immediately track these transactions or prevent members from overdrawing their accounts. NYCE leaders managed to get through to the credit union staff, even though the organization was in chaos. They posed the following choice: With just a few strokes on a computer keyboard, NYCE could cut off all cash withdrawals until the severed link was restored-which could take several weeks-or NYCE could let the cash keep flowing and sort out the withdrawal records later. Theoretically, anyone with a credit union ATM card could take out as much money as they wanted. The credit union would have to assume that risk. What did it want to do?The Municipal Credit Union of New York is one of the oldest credit unions in America, founded more than eight decades ago. It is guided by an ethos of self-help and pooled aspirations. Many of its members are firemen and policemen and, in the wake of the attacks, it was widely assumed that some of these people had perished just across the street from the MCU's office. There was no way the credit union would prevent its members and their families from accessing their money at a time of crisis. Thomas Siciliano, the general counsel of the credit union, said later: "We felt it would have hurt them badly and added to the chaos of the city." The MCU trusted them to use their ATM cards responsibly.Credit union members realized early on that their ATM use wasn't monitored and that there was no limit to how much cash they could take out. As word spread, withdrawals skyrocketed. As many as 4,000 members overdrew their accounts, some by as much as $10,000. One member used his card more than 150 times between late September and mid-October.I

Excerpted from The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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