Dive in the box. Have your racing driver crash. Try to rig the market or bend the rules to win the game. There is a change in society that has driven the growth of cheating — from sportsmanship to business ethics — over the last generation. It is not that there was some cheat-free golden age. Back in the s and '70s there were sports cheats and some businesses bent the rules.
However, most CEOs of public companies were like Courtaulds' Sir Arthur Knight, punctiliously filing every penny of his income and refusing "tax efficiency" schemes on principle as dodges to help the rich avoid their civic responsibilities. He strongly believed he was a privileged member of a community whose rules he wanted to respect. I know a few CEOs like him now, but it is a culture that is fast disappearing. The problem is that the social sanctions against cheating are becoming ever harder to operate as communities disintegrate.
The Premier League, like Formula One, is populated by extravagantly paid mercenaries transiently moving from team to team. Love of the sport may remain but rules depend upon everyone acknowledging that keeping to them is best for all — and that those in the community should both uphold them and join in any sanction. But super-rich football mercenaries cannot feel the sanction of poorer players in leagues which they have long since left behind.
They are paid to win — and they had better deliver. They may not intend harm, but the social bonds that make them feel the intended harm have dissolved.
The outstripping of the top 0. If the top does not need the approval of others — because the distance between us in income, wealth and status has grown so vast — then we cannot make them feel the harm that they do. They do not feel the consequences of not paying tax, rigging markets or bending the rules.
They can behave unfairly without consequence. The leaders set the tone; the rest follow and so cheating becomes the norm. But the inequality which has caused all this has needed a justification, supplied by the pushers of market fundamentalism and neoconservatism. So, for a generation, a line has been peddled that the number one value is individual freedom unbounded by society or state.
This, they said, is the route to human happiness and economic efficiency. States and regulations are coercive and inefficient. There should be no upper limit to what one can earn and no interference in market processes, unless the markets have demonstrably failed. The raw political power that allowed a financial oligarchy to rig western finance to create personal fortunes exceeding the great aristocratic dynasties went unchallenged.
And so, we witness the consequences. Doubtless Baroness Scotland feels her mistake was one that anyone employing a migrant worker could make. She is half-right, but she is a leader, and her job is to be responsible for the law. It is not enough that she pays her fine and gets on with her job, any more than it's right that sports-governing bodies just slap cheaters' wrists or bank boards connive in running tax avoidance schemes.
Civil society needs to fight back, but the political avenues have closed. Neither of our main political parties appears capable of challenging the great neoconservative story, nor of expressing our collective wish to punish cheats and cry for fairness. Labour in power ignored the opportunity, even if now there is a deathbed repentance. Former President Bill Clinton was ripped apart when it was discovered he had cheated and lied.
But his wife stood by him and chose to forgive. Nowadays he is a prominent and loved figure in society. Is it the media attention these stories receive? Hypothetically speaking, whether you are a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist etc. But we always manage to eventually forgive public figure cheaters because they are continuously rewarded with media coverage, book deals, and election winnings.
We, as a society, love public figures who cheat! We are obsessed with reading and watching about their morally wrong ways, because perhaps, it makes us feel better about our own flawed lives. Now, Mark Sanford, who left his wife of 20 years and mother to his four sons, is back and stronger than ever. Click here to cancel reply.