Do Cheaters Really Never Prosper? Really? Really?
The cultural aphorism that is drilled into our impressionable young minds when we are children is that “cheaters never prosper.” This is not entirely true. Apparently, some cheaters become incredibly rich. But, a lot of them do get caught and suffer the consequences for their transgressions. Lying on one’s resumé to gain leverage in a competitive job market at the beginning of an individual’s career can come back to haunt those who are ultimately caught in a lie. Being ousted as a liar can result in termination or at the very least, public shaming. It depends upon the course of action a company takes on employees who have misrepresented their academic credentials and job qualifications.
Mathew Martoma was recently sentenced to 9 years in prison for securities fraud and conspiracy while working for SAC Capital. He engaged in insider trading with doctors who were associated with pharmaceutical companies. His actions resulted in $276 million profits for SAC Capital in 2008. This was Martoma’s final act in a career of deceiving others for personal gain. Martoma was expelled from Harvard Law School for falsifying a transcript where he inflated his grades. Stanford Business School later rescinded the degree Martoma had previously earned at the institution because he had failed to mention his past expulsion from Harvard. Yet, there are plenty of people who misrepresent themselves, are unearthed as liars, and still continue to remain employed at a company. Marilee Jones, who was previously the dean of MIT and currently a college admissions consultant at the Berklee College of Music, claimed she had both a bachelor’s and master’s degree when in fact she never even completed undergraduate level studies. Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson lied and said he had a degree in computer science when in fact it was in accounting. Jeffrey Papows, former president of IBM, was revealed as lying about his military and academic background but managed to still keep his job. He was only later fired after a sexual discrimination complaint. Ronald Zarrella never finished the MBA program at NYU but said he did. The company deemed Zarrella too much of an asset to let him go. He ultimately left the job when the brand faced legal troubles concerning liability suits and product recall. Perhaps, what Lenin said of politics “there are no morals in politics; there is only expedience” might be making itself true in every other field as well.
People lie to make themselves look better. Those who succeed in deceiving others must be doing a good job if they’re not only able to the requirements of a specific role in a company, but capable of climbing the corporate ladder to executive positions. Should society as a whole overlook the small lies that may have been the catalyst for a prosperous career if that individual fulfills duties and is not a detriment to the well-being of a brand? It seems that as long as the individual who initially falsifies their resumé to get their foot in the door of a particular industry does not ultimately engage in unethical business practices, then people can be forgiving for past transgressions.
One small lie should not sully the work a person accomplishes in his or her field of specialization. Since we do live in a Judea-Christian society whose laws and moral codes of conduct have been largely informed by theological traditions, many Americans are incensed at the clandestine behavior of the business world. But, starting off a fruitful career with a small lie is not unheard of. A lot of good things started off with morally reprehensible behavior. For instance, the United States is one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world. It provides a lot of opportunity and prosperity for millions of people. Our forefathers claim that this country is created on the principles of freedom and equality while yet, the realization of the way of life we’ve come to know could not have been possible without the genocide of Native Americans. The ties between Congress and corporate lobbyists are so nefarious at this point, does it even matter that a few corporate executives were caught telling a minor fib? Isn’t this type of behavior a foregone conclusion considering the economic and political milieu in which we as Americans currently reside?