Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cheating is a Problem

America suffers from a problem inflicting massive financial hardship upon us all.  This expensive problem is the widespread presence of cheating within our society.

Cheating is a problem in Plano as well as across America.  The Wall Street Journal in its February 5, 2014 edition, had three articles about cheating.  "Recruiting Fraud Cost Military Millions" by Dion Nissenbaum, on p. A6, describes 1,200 members of the U.S. Army committing fraud to obtain recruiting bonuses they did not earn.  A major general and 29 colonels were involved is this penny-ante series of swindles.  When thousands of people are each stealing thousands of dollars, this adds up to millions of dollars. In the same edition, also on page A6, was "Navy Probes Allegation of Instructors' Cheating" by Julian E. Barnes.  Here, instructors at a nuclear-reactor training center in South Carolina passed students who actually failed training.  After this discovery 30 enlisted sailors have been decertified and removed from their work with nuclear reactors.  Earlier, in "Air Force Uncovers Cheating Among Nuclear-Missile Crews" by Julian E. Barnes (January 2014) we learned that officers in charge of nuclear tipped missiles were caught cheating on their proficiency exams.  The only thing worse than incompetent sailors tending nuclear reactors is incompetent airmen overseeing nuclear weapons.

In the civilian world, this same February 5 issue of the Wall Street Journal had "Due Diligence and the Martoma Conundrum" by Jonathon Lenzner, which described the misadventures of Mathew Martoma.  Mr. Martoma was accepted into the Stanford Business school and later hired by SAC Capital Advisors.  Mr. Martoma is on trial in federal court for insider trading.  Mr. Martoma has a history of lying and cheating, so insider trading should be no surprise.  Before he changed his name to Mathew Martoma he was known as Ajai Mathew Thomas.  He changed his name after he was caught forging his academic records from Harvard, and submitting the false grades to a federal judge for a clerkship.  The Harvard Law School discovered he was falsifying his grades from Harvard and expelled him.  Stanford and SAC Capital did not discover young Mr. Martoma had lied to them.

Cheating on Wall Street is no surprise.  Cheaters working with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons is frightening.  But cheating is wide-spread in our high schools and is also present in our colleges.  We should not be surprised to learn that high school cheaters take cheating into every aspect of their lives.  Cheaters eventually end up in the U.S. Congress and the White House.  The wide-spread presence of cheaters is why we had an economic melt-down in 2008, the Great Recession.

Do you know of any community or state within America that has a reputation for integrity?  It is safe to say that Chicago is a city with a reputation for corruption, but what city has a reputation for honesty?  The city of Plano has had two of its mayors go to prison, so we cannot assume that we set the standard for integrity. But we can strive to become a city manifesting exemplary integrity.

We can begin to manifest integrity by weeding-out cheaters, by speaking against cheating, and promoting honesty and integrity.  Vigorous cheating begins in high school and it is present in Plano, like in many communities.  We parents in Plano can take a stand against cheating in our schools. Our community can have a reputation for integrity