I watched a collection of shows over a recent weekend that deeply depressed me: "To Big To Fail", "60 Minutes: Tyler Hamilton interview on doping in cycling and Lance Armstrong", CNBC: "Collapse of Enron" and a bit of the CNBC special on the mortgage debacle.
The common thread I saw was success, measured in wealth, was achieved by individuals that decided to just not follow the rules. Additionally, if there weren't explicit rules disallowing a particular action, then it should of been very clear that on a moral, right/wrong or Golden Rule paradigm the actions clearly were on the dark side.
What depressed me further was recognizing that even though these characters were being caught, that they would never be punished to the extend that they'd wind up on the street in a box. It was pretty obvious that either they would have enough money left to live far better than the top 1% of Americans, and their names would not be so tarnished that they would not be able to step right back out there and be paid to tell their story of redemption, or take find another company willing to hire them.
I consider myself very honest. I practically go out of my way to do the right thing. Whenever there is a decision to be made where different outcomes could either benefit me greatly or not, and if the scenario that benefited me the least was the best for the other person, I always default to take the back seat. There have been any number of times I was confronted with these very uncomfortable decision, and it makes me sick to even realize I have to make that decision.
I recognize, or feel, some of my reluctance to cheat and lie comes from my youth where if I ever got close to that line, or barely crossed it, I got caught. But it really just grips my ass that with all my honesty I'm still beat by those that lie and care less.