Ethics Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 1463 words and 7 pages.


It is the moment to bite the bullet and admit to a dishonorable little skeleton in the
closet. Players who use steroids in professional baseball, high school students who cheat
on the SATs, misleading advertisements filled with the all to common "to good to be true "
and CEOs who cook the books in American corporations all may be acting sensibly

Today there is so much to be gained by being just a little better and above others -- by
hitting a few more home runs than any other professional baseball player, by getting to
and staying at the very top of the American corporation, or by being the absolute best at
what you do for a living.

Salaries and rewards for those who come out on top have gone crazy. The highest-paid
baseball player earned $2.3 million in the 1988 season, $6.3 million in 1994 and more than
$20 million last year. CEOs got 40 times what the average employee in their company earned
in 1980, and 400 times by 2000. The Olympic gold-medal winner who won a nation's praise
and an endorsement or two in the 1970s became an endorsement bonanza by 2000. Who would
settle for less when they are bombarded by ads like Nike's during the 1996 Atlanta
Olympics: "You don't win silver. You lose gold''?

The winner-take-all culture exists in almost every area of American life. Science
Magazine, the most prestigious in its field, has reported that in bioscience, what
economists call a "tournament market'' exists: The first to make an extraordinary finding
reaps a hugely disproportionate share of the fame and future grants.

Ahead of the pack
Tempted by these rewards, some people climbing the ladder may do almost anything to get to
the top, and some who already have made it there will do almost anything to stay. Athletes
turn to performance enhancers to remain superstars as they age; corporate executives
falsify the books to retain their regal perks and immense pay. Former WorldCom CFO Scott
Sullivan testified recently, for example, that executives at his company fraudulently
adjusted the books to please Wall Street, which presumably would help keep the executives
secure in their jobs.

The superstar culture has seeped even into our middle and high schools. Michael
Dillingham, the 49ers team physician and a crusader against drug use by athletes, says
parents of high school athletes are sometimes the most eager to try any drug that will
give their child an edge.

Some children and their parents have convinced themselves that they have to be superstars,
and go to Harvard, Stanford or Brown to have a worthwhile life. This attitude leads to
cheating by the most qualified, not the least qualified, students in some schools.

Adding to the temptation, athletes, high school students and scientists may convince
themselves that anyone who is on top has cheated to get there, and therefore they
rationalize it for themselves.

So, we have become a society captivated by "the winner.'' We have made the one who
dominates the box office, comes out on top in sports or rises to the peak in business a
new kind of royalty. It is no wonder people cheat.

Cheating has always been with us. But is it worse now? Unfortunately, there are no
reliable measures of the level of cheating. There were baseball and business scandals a
century ago, and card cheaters were a fixture of the Old West.

What seems new to me is that cheating has gone mainstream. It shows up in almost every
corner of American life -- from professional athletics and Wall Street businesses to high
school SATs. And it is tolerated more. There is less outrage and a more forgiving attitude
when a baseball player is found with a corked bat or a student is caught cheating on an
exam. Have we accepted at some level that cheating is reasonable? I hope not.

We would have to delve deeply into the national psyche to determine why we need heroes and
celebrities so badly. I suspect it has to do with a spiritual crisis in American society
-- a search for what has real meaning. Worshiping heroes and celebrities can be a
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