Guest Post: Cheating - Competition’s Great Equalizer?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Ben Tanosborn

Cheating: Competition’s Great Equalizer?

Back in the wild-and-woolly days of the
American West – encompassing much of the second half of the nineteenth
century – the Colt revolver was said to be the “great equalizer.”  It
promised to wipe out any gap between weak and strong, claiming to put
every man at the same level of strength – beastly level, one need to

In a capitalist world where competitiveness
appears to be the only “worthwhile” trait to have in order to survive
and thrive, ethics be damned, we seem to have found a new version of the
great equalizer; one which doesn’t shoot bullets but which narrows or
makes go away the gap between the more gifted and the gifted-not.  It’s called cheating, and it can operate in any field of endeavor.  In
Western societies, ours to be sure, we excel in its use in politics,
economics, business, education… and the more obvious these days, in
terms of press coverage, in sports – through the use of illegal drugs.

Cheating has achieved art form, particularly
in business, politics and sports; and the public has come to accept this
cheating behavior shrugging their shoulders.  “They all do
it” has become the rationalization to accept not just the fame and
celebrity of major personalities (sports heroes), but also the
detrimental acts so often perpetrated by those who yield power over us:
business moguls and politicians.  “They all do it”
rationale has brought us all to the level of co-conspirators since this
is a game we all must play; there’s no room for spectators since the
outcome of those acts affect not just our well-being, but the dignity,
or lack of it, in which we view ourselves.

If cheating is so endemic in our capitalist
way of life, why do we act so surprised when it affects other areas of
our society, such as religion, the judicial system, and now education?  Aren’t some areas sacrosanct, immune to major scandals?  Definitely not!  Capitalism without appropriate rules and controls also implies competition without rules or controls.  And
in this environment of the survival of the fittest, fittest being
people who possess the wealth and power, those who disagree with the
politics and policies of the rules-imposers feel that they, too, need a
great equalizer.

And that happens to be the problem we face these days in American education.  The
biggest cheating scandal to date, other than perhaps the cheating
scandal by the midshipmen at Annapolis in 1993, has just been made
public by the office of Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, via a released
report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; a report that names 178
teachers, school principals and administrators in a conspiracy to fix
answers on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), and also
punish whistle-blowers.

The Atlanta public
school system, where the cheating took place became a model to emulate
by thousands of other school systems in the nation.  It was also rewarded with additional funding from the Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation.  Yet,
the rise in scores which took place during last decade in this large
school district had to do solely with teachers and principals erasing
and changing test answers.

And what has happened in Atlanta could turn out to be the prevalent theme throughout the nation, something we are not ready to admit.  And why is this occurring? Are teachers as a group less ethical than members of other professions?  A
resounding no to that; it’s simply that teachers became the guinea pig,
were marched against the execution wall by a capitalist system that
sees competition, no matter how unjust or unreasonable, as the only
answer to everything in society. 

Against teachers’ reasoning that quantifying
improvement was a monumental task at best, and something inoperable at
worst, teachers were forced by the political system to reluctantly
accept “improvement” as the one and only option.  Not only
were all variables hard to measure in order to establish a base in a
society not just ethno-socially diversified, but economically growing
more and more unequal.  And with the economy playing havoc
with those in the lower economic strata in these past four years, more
and more people becoming poor and homeless, how are you going to account
for a base that is deteriorating?  No… don’t blame the politicians, just blame the teachers for our economic and social ills!

Unfortunately what happened in Atlanta, and
most likely repeated in much of the country, has played into the hands
of proponents of rapacious and heartless capitalism that see
competition, often unhealthy competition, as the basis for a just
society while, in effect, the opposite is true.  Sadly,
those teachers, principals and administrators who cheated did so out of
selfishness and perhaps their own survival, instead of standing in
solidarity with others in their profession. 

 The Colt revolver was the wrong kind of equalizer in the 1800’s and cheating is the wrong kind of equalizer in the 2000’s.  Hopefully, a lesson has been learned.

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darkstar7646's picture

Ahh, a subject close to my heart.

Something which has basically become part and parcel to the online experience, where basically any game you play is so rife with cheating (often with the implicit help of the company running the game *cough*Square-Enix*cough*) that you either have to cheat or you are no longer part of the process.

Same can be said in economics. You don't have enough resources, post-tax, if you aren't one of the elites, to take part in the real economy without some form of cheating or leaving the process (going Galt).

And as far as the public schools and NCLB are concerned, get back to me when a public school is anything more than a sports camp and a violence-enabler by said athletes.

narnia's picture
when the rule of law becomes an instrument to tolerate & reward perversity, the system ends up with lots of perversity.  we suffer from too many smart people gaming the system rather than rebelling against it.  that will change. 
AnAnonymous's picture

when the rule of law becomes an instrument to tolerate & reward perversity, the system ends up with lots of perversity.


US citizens discussing knowledge established one hundred years ago.


Cheating is the goal of competition. Cheating is the ultimate decider in competition.


Competition is a measurement process (one has to determine what actor is more/less competitive than another actor)

Measuring requires a rule, in one of its original meaning, that is a tool to measure, a yardstick.

Now, one who manipulates the yardstick is one who grants oneself of the competitive edges.

This demand is inherent to competition. Playing chess against yourself, the self with the best competitive edge is the one able to bend the rules at will vs the self coerced to respect the rules.

US citizens love to discuss dead knowledge as if it was vivid, in a way to reject the US world order they have brought to the world.

Cheating (manipulation of the rule) is inherent to competition and the best competitive edge one can get.

Established for more than an hundred years now and it is useless to pretend starting from fresh on this topic without bringing new elements that sways the validity of the previous elements.

snowball777's picture

I bet you've never won a fair fight in your life.

AnAnonymous's picture

I bet you've never won a fair fight in your life.


Actually, US citizens are so duplicitous and their propaganda so cheap, cheating is useless to trash them.

Still restating facts established one hundred years ago is enough to break their faces.

Admittedly, the inequality in forces between US propaganda and facts is such that one feels unfairness in this.

Without guns to back up their speech, US propagandists are weak and easily crushed.

fallout11's picture

I am reminded of the old Army maxim, “If you find are in a fair fight, you didn't prepare well enough."

darkstar7646's picture

Will it? I have serious doubt of that, for two reasons:

1) The existence of the system relies on the people gaming it.

2) The existence of many people relies on their gaming of the system.

MGHJFHD's picture

I wish more people would write sites like this that are actually helpful to read. With all the fluff floating around on the web, it is rare to read a site like yours instead.


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flacorps's picture

In the 1919 Black Sox scandal, the quote was "Say it isn't so, Joe" ... Today that same kid would say to a Roger Clemens or a Barry Bonds: "Dummy, you got caught!"

darkstar7646's picture

Agreed -- because there'd probably be far less Major League Baseball otherwise.

Steroids saved baseball. Not the fans, not legitimate play, but illegal freaking steroids saved baseball because, as The Simpsons put so well, people don't want the awful truth.

They want some "dingers".

ThirdCoastSurfer's picture

Given the selective manor in which fouls and penalties are enforced in football and basketball, I only wish golf allowed an occasional mulligan!

JohnG's picture

I'll take my stroke on my honor sir!

snowball777's picture

I wish golf allowed tackling the other golfers and beating them with a 9-iron.

bob_dabolina's picture

mmmm hmmm. 

And they want Obama to do more...more aid

Maybe the problem is they're lazy? Do people really not understand the issue of why a large cross section of America is non competitive in the work force? Why don't they try addressing the issue of lazyness before we start throwing more money it?

darkstar7646's picture

You can't do that except at gunpoint.

Want to start it?

(And that's not meant to be provocative -- it is about the only solution.)

bob_dabolina's picture

I shouldn't have to point a gun at someone to get them to work. If that's what it takes then maybe it's a genetic thing.

darkstar7646's picture

I don't think you should worry about the "why", in that case.

I think you should worry about that you are going to have to do it to get your vision of this country back on it's feet.

bob_dabolina's picture

I'm not sure if it's possible for this country to get back on it's feet. I honestly think it's terminal in the sense that everything has become so perverted and disjointed that it would take a full on revolution to fix. I don't see that happening in my lifetime but who knows.

darkstar7646's picture

It's going to take a civil war, is what it's going to take.

You ARE going to have to force a lot of people to go to work at literal gunpoint, whether you like the concept or not.

Many of those people are probably (and frankly) unfit to work.

Bay of Pigs's picture

You finally get it Bob. Almost.

Maybe you can open your eyes now on the gold and silver markets?

That would be really great.

snowball777's picture

A convenient cop-out at best.

snowball777's picture

So your father made a point of threatening people with firearms too?

fallout11's picture

Coercion, violent or otherwise, has always been a historical method for imputing work from others. Serfdom, slavery, pressgangs, indentured servitude, peonage, you name it, we've had it for most of recorded human history.

SparkySC's picture

Catch up on the Story about Tiger's Canadian Doctor.



Dr. Anthony Galea Cops Plea In Buffalo Federal Court 8:06 PM, Jul 7, 2011  | 


BUFFALO, NY - Golfer Tiger Woods, NFL stars Takeo Spikes and Jamal Lewis were mentioned during the court appearance in which Dr. Anthony Galea, the Toronto doctor accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to pro-athletes in the U.S, took a plea deal Wednesday.

Galea is a renowned physician in the area of sports medicine, and his client list includes dozens of athletes playing in the NFL, Major League Baseball, and other professional sports leagues.

Galea was arraigned in US District Court by Judge Richard Arcara on five felony counts, before quickly pleading guilty to one of them; Introducing mis-branded drugs into interstate commerce, which--under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces up to two years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

In addition, Dr. Galea, who possibly faces suspension of his medical license in Canada, will forfeit $275,000 to the United States Government.

The plea allowed Galea to escape prosecution on more serious charges, including smuggling, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Galea admitted he brought or arranged for the importation of unapproved drugs, including human growth hormones (HGH), into the United States.

Though it was further alleged that Galea used those drugs to treat athletes in the United States where he is not licensed to practice medicine, he did not have to admit that under terms of the plea.

This prompted Galea's Canadian Attorney Brian Greenspan (who did not represent Galea on the criminal charges he faced in the U.S.) to state to reporters, "this resolution confirms the position that Dr. Galea has always maintained. That he has not nor has he ever been involved in performance enhancement of athletes."

However, that statement flies in the face of the allegations laid out in the indictment handed up against Galea by a federal grand jury, and based largely on the testimony of a former assistant of his who was stopped at the US border in September of 2009, and whose arrest lead to the charges against Dr. Galea.

According to border agents at the Peace Bridge, she was found to be transporting human growth hormone, and other drugs and medical supplies in her car.

The assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, almost immediately began cooperating - according to federal prosecutors - who say she agreed to testify against her boss, even saying that he instructed her to explain that she was headed to a medical convention if she was ever stopped at the border.

Catalano identified 23 athletes during interviews with U.S. and Canadian authorities whom she said Galea treated in the U.S. Catalano said she frequently accompanied Galea and met with athletes in "hotel rooms and their homes" to provide various medical treatments. Along with paying for the treatment, Catalano said the athletes also paid all travel expenses for herself and the doctor.

Prosecutors revealed on Wednesday that Galea collected $800,000 from those athletes over the course of two years, for drugs valued at no more than $70,000.

Greenspan, noting some of the billing was for travel expenses, insisted Galea did not seek to profit, but to charge amounts commiserate to the amount of money he was losing by leaving his Toronto based clinic and traveling to the U.S. "Dr. Galea is a healer," Greenspan said.

Catalano told authorities she witnessed Galea inject a cocktail mixture containing Nutropin [growth hormone] into the injured knees of "at least seven athletes" while in the U.S. There is no approved test to determine HGH use, but the substance is banned by the major professional sports leagues.

Greenspan insisted several times while speaking with reporters that they pay particular attention to the only charge Galea admitted to, which he characterized as a "shortcoming as set out in the agreement", to wit: medications which "although routinely used in Canada, and elsewhere in the world, did not bear the 'Rx' symbol or directions in the English language which are required by American regulation."

However, one of the substances, Actovegin, which is a drug extracted from calf's blood, is illegal in the United States and not approved for use in Canada.

"We don't have it on our books," Karen Riley, a media officer with the FDA, told the Los Angeles Times shortly after Galea was indicted. "It would have to go through an FDA approval process, and I don't have any record of that product." 

When we pointed that out to Greenspan, who described himself as an attorney with a long and accomplished career of teaching and practicing law while representing a litany of high profile clients, he replied that we were "misinformed".

When 2 On Your Sides Dave McKinley pressed him further on that point and other issues which seemed to conflict with assertions of prosecutors, including that Dr. Galea was not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., Greenspan called McKinley "the rudest journalist" he'd ever met.

"He admitted to not only bringing in unapproved substances into our country repeatedly, but he also practiced without a license, supervised the criminal conduct of others, and obstructed justice by having his assistant Mary Anne Catalano lie that she was attending a medical conference," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. 

According to ESPN, the smuggling charge presumably arose from Catalano having told authorities that Galea had her travel to Germany in 2007 to purchase Actovegin from a pharmacy, with her also telling investigators that other employees and athlete patients had purchased the drug in Germany and brought it back for Galea.

Catalano has already reached a plea agreement and is expected to be sentenced next month.

Woods, Spikes, and Lewis were only referred to as clients of Dr. Galea in court. It's not clear if they received drugs from Dr. Galea.

Click on the video link above to see Dave McKinley and Marissa Bailey's report.



i-dog's picture

"Introducing mis-branded drugs into interstate commerce, which--under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces up to two years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

The plea allowed Galea to escape prosecution on more serious charges, including smuggling, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison."

Rules...rules...and more freaking perverted rules!

  • Potentially poisoning the public with "mis-branded drugs" = 2 years in prison.
  • Cheating the government of a few dollars of tax revenue = 20 years in prison.
  • Sending all those tax dollars to the banksters = priceless!

It's patently obvious where "protect and serve" government priorities lie!!

tarsubil's picture

With all the rules we have, using the term cheating doesn't really mean anything anymore. What is wrong is what is unjust. If these teachers cheated the rules to teach the kids, I'd be fine with it. If they cheated just to get the feds off their back, I'd be fine with that. That is just. To cheat in order to benefit themselves at the expense of these poor kids is a great injustice. A long time ago, people started changing 'thou shalt not murder' to 'thou shalt not kill' in order to forget justice. Chesterton said it best when he said murder is not wrong because it is violent but because it is unjust. Cheating is only wrong if it is unjust. Unfortunately no one knows what justice is anymore. Today the term 'social justice' is used for a policy of unjust redistribution and cronyism.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

As long as we don't cheat quite as much as those we compete with or are affected by in other ways, we can claim the high ground...........which in the slave mentality world means we are the glorious and helpless non responsible victims. Thus we aren't responsible both for our own actions nor those of the "bigger" cheaters.

The beauty of the system is that the moral high ground is shared by everyone in the game (including the slave masters) using a never ending concoction of rationalizations, justifications and outright denial.

God Bless the New World Order........same as the old world order only bigger, badder and even more insane. 

Reese Bobby's picture

When I was younger public disgrace was not the fast track to individual celebrity.

If you barely got off for killing your child you did not get an agent.

The decline of Society is directly correlated with the "criminalization" of Christianity.

Vic Vinegar's picture

Fair points indeed. 

At times I want to leave this website and just to go to SeekingAlpha, but there is so much going on in the world and so many cats here who see it.

Reese Bobby's picture

I don't know how this "cat" missed such an important movie?

Vic Vinegar's picture

It's pretty sweet.  Worth a rental, esp. if you are supporting NFLX :-)

snowball777's picture

Buy the graphic novel. Accept no substitutes.

snowball777's picture

"Criminalization" of Christianity?! WTF are you talking about? This country bends over backwards at every turn for you lemmings.

knowless's picture

yes and no, true christian values could never be supported by the system we have, which is why i always find it so amusing when people would support bush or any politician who promised them Federally Sanctioned Christian Morals™.


false prophets abound in this nation, some of the most ethical and morally minded people I know are in no way christian, or even religeous, I don't see it as a lack of christianity, but in a lack of understanding for what christ was actually trying to explain.

Crab Cake's picture

The game of cheating, the only game where not playing is the worst option. Play fair you get ground into dust or converted into a cheater, but if you don't play at all or back out... you get enslaved for life. Thanks for playing. Plus, the intellectual barriers to entering the cheating game is so stupefying that the lone average Joe is really just red meat at the retirement buffet.

Fuck the banks. Tell me why again that they get the magical power to impose interest and debt on "money" that is just created by them computed/printed/fabricated into existence... out of thin freaking air! It's a big fucking joke. They create money. We work our asses off to get the money, and then pay the interest for the pleasure of said money being created by our freindly super bank. That simple. We borrow "our public money" and pay private interest. The cheating game.

Reese Bobby's picture

Because the Global Bank Cartel controls our money supply and owns our "politicians."

And just to be sure they can't be stopped the Global Bank Cartel shipped most U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas, created a majority voting block of people either working for the Government or sucking on the Government teat, and made sure the average kid can't learn much in our public schools.

Pretty impressive really.  And game over I am afraid...

Marco's picture

Just curious ... what's the alternative?

Fiat money and the implicit guarantee of government made it a little more efficient, but they were happily doing it through fractional reserves long before those two came around.

So, what's the alternative?

Vic Vinegar's picture

When I was at Paramount the best movies we put out were School of Rock and Mean Girls.  Nice flicks, but by no means Watchmen.

I left that youtube video for Cog Diss and his disciples.  You are truly good guys but what are you fighting for?  Just curious.

JohnG's picture

"As long as we don't cheat quite as much......we aren't responsible both for our own actions"


CD, is this sarcasm or a reflection on....."twistedness" of human psychology?


I really can't tell.

Vic Vinegar's picture

End of days, dude.

Christians and Hugh Hendry are ready to purge this system of its rotteness.  Yet it continues.


Bay of Pigs's picture

The "moral hazard" we used to depend on went out the window awhile back eh?

Thanks bro. Keep posting.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Great stuff.  Isn't what we are seeing a return to tribalism?  Tatoos, ignorance, dog-eat-dog mercantilism, no moral ground, might-makes-right, relativism, pride without achievement, broken families, drugs, anything goes, subjectivity of truth, and the death of God.  Isn't it all laid out in the bible?  Unfortunately, without the bulwark of morality and achievement Mother Nature will reduce our ranks to that of hunter gatherers.

Anonymouse's picture

Spot on.  And without getting into an argument as to the truth of the Bible (as if that were possible - and for the record, I am on the side of the Bible), the loss of the morality prescribed for Christians (even if that were just a cultural affiliation and not a true belief), has led to the decline. [I'm not arguing that Christians are or were perfect]  Shame has been lost in society.  Without faith, and without shame, there is no reason not to "get what's yours".

And that will be the downfall.  Without cultural honesty and without shame, cheaters do prosper.  That discourages those who otherwise would be honest, and they begin to cheat, tolerate it in others, or at least be tempted to do so.

All the more so when cultural heroes are those who lie, cheat, steal, or kill or pretend to do so.  Tony Soprano is a hero.  "Boy scout" is a pejorative term.  Anti-intellectual feelings are encouraged in TV and movies.  Smart people are nerds and dorks, and definitely not to be emulated.

The reaction to the cheating and other changes is to tighten the rules, encourage lawsuits, increase dependence on government.  All result in more powerful and more obtrusive government.

The honest rail against it, but realizing you can't push a string, give up or give in.  They stop running for office then stop voting altogether.

It can be subtle or it can be overt, but it all amounts to peer pressure to do the wrong thing.  It is the catalyst that is required to allow (or encourage) destruction of society.

Medea's picture

Yup. All would be right if you Christians were in charge again. Sure.


And shame has been lost? What world do you live in? Shame is no longer directed at the same people for the same actions, but it is still a prime mover.

Anonymouse's picture

Apparently corruption and cheating are not subject to shame though.  So where is it a prime mover?


I didn't say all would be right.  I said this decline would not happen.  If people had morals (from whatever source), cheating would not be as rampant, and certainly not glorified.


Finally, I deny your standard theocracy strawman.  The last thing I want is for "the church" to be in charge.  That, as was proved in the past, is a recipe for corruption.  I'm talking about faith.  I'm talking about the desire to do what's right, even if you fall short on occasion. That's a huge difference.

snowball777's picture

Without faith, and without shame, there is no reason not to "get what's yours".


Bullshit. Moral behavior is not a consequence of Christian belief. The golden rule is just as applicable to any rational atheist. Some of us don't need to believe that a man in the sky is shaking his finger at us in order to see that corruption and graft are ultimately self-defeating activities.

Anonymouse's picture

Some perhaps, but not many apparently. 


And I would disagree anyway.  Corruption and graft may be self-defeating for society as a whole, but not for individuals.  Quite a few are making a boat-load of money at it, as is discussed on virtually every ZH thread.

AnAnonymous's picture

Great stuff.  Isn't what we are seeing a return to tribalism? 


A return of what? It suggests it was left. But no, the US has always been tribalistic, it has eliminated other orders that were aiming to universalism.

Now that the world is under the US world order, it shows fully its colours.

But there has been no change since the start of the US.