The Cheating Culture

The Cheating Culture

January 1, 2004

Your next-door neighbor offers to hook you up with free cable television. Or, when you unexpectedly owe hundreds of dollars in taxes, your accountant advises you to make up deductions, since "the IRS doesn't audit anyone." Do you do it?

David Callahan thinks many of us would. And we wouldn't be alone. While there have always been those who cut corners, cheating has risen in the last two decades: corporate scandals, doping in sports, plagiarizing by journalists and students. Even ministers have been caught stealing sermons off the Internet. Why all the cheating? And why now?

Callahan pins the blame on the dog-eat-dog economic climate of the past twenty years. A harsh unfettered market and soaring income gaps have corroded our values, he argues, and threaten to corrupt the equal opportunity we cherish. What Callahan dubs the "Winning Class" has enough money and clout that it can cheat without consequences — while many in the "Anxious Class" believe that cheating is the only way to succeed in a winner-take-all world.

Through revealing interviews and extensive data, Callahan takes us on a gripping tour of cheating in America and makes a powerful case for why it matters. Lucidly written, scrupulously argued, The Cheating Culture is an important, original examination of the hidden costs of the boom years.