The Cultural Problem of Cheating & Lying

Widespread dishonesty in the U.S. — exemplified by Trump but coming long before him and going far beyond —  threatens key pillars of society, writes Lawrence Davidson.

Downtown Houston skyline during 2017 World Series, which the home team won by stealing pitching signs during the season. (Immanuel Lewis, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Lawrence Davidson 

Cheating, and the lying that always accompanies it, is probably as old as the human species. At the same time, that is probably how long we have known that they are harmful traits. The Eighth Commandment (out of the famous 10) tells us not to bear false witness, which means, don’t lie. Most older societies had someone assigned to monitor the marketplace for reliable weights and measures — because left to themselves, most capitalists, of all times and places, cheat. This reality was and still is confirmed by the Roman warning “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware.

This perennial problem is still with us and can only be held at bay by education, regulation and standards set by role models and other worthy authority figures. Alas, these standards are slipping in the case of the United States and thus, our tendency to cheat is witnessing a growth phase. Here are some recent examples:

(1) The Astros baseball team cheated to win the World Series in the 2017 season. Baseball is the “national sport” of the United States and as such it is supposed to hold an honorable place in our culture. But did that stop what must have been nearly the entire Astros team (every batter must have been in on the scheme) from involving themselves in the “game plan” to steal their opponents’ pitching signs? Not at all. 

(2) Then we were shown how willing numerous well-to-do Americans were to suborn the college entrance process by buying their children into elite schools. The educational system in the United States is supposedly a mark of national pride, but so is the status of wealth. So why shouldn’t the latter assure entrance into the former? To make it so, all one has to do is cheat (in these cases bribery was the vehicle).

(3) And, by the way, students in colleges and universities, high-end schools or otherwise, can engage in the cheating process by plagiarizing. Term papers and other pre-prepared, and illicit, assignments are for sale online. 

Here in the U.S., we are no longer sure that all of this is really so bad.

President Donald Trump taking oath of office. (White House)

Maybe, if you can get away with it, it is just smart. That is the message the public receives from an increasing number of traditional role models — those who now stand at the very highest levels of our society and publicly flaunt corruption. I speak here of the behavior of President Donald Trump (and his entourage), who, in less than three years in office has managed to brandish his particular aptitude for mendacity (the man is a habitual liar by any standard), bribery, obstruction, incitement and just plain disdain for all manner of rules. And this behavior has given license to others to act out their own disregard for both honesty and truth. 

All of this is very bad news. This cheating side of our behavior, having gained increased acceptance, has become a real threat to two basic pillars of our society: the integrity of science/technology and the practice of honest government.

Discrediting Science

Let’s begin with science/technology. Our society would be unrecognizable apart from the science and technology that underpins all material aspects of modern life. The scientific method is the surest way we know to establish the truth about aspects of the material world. Yet today, this foundation is in danger of being eroded by the lies and misrepresentations that plague our everyday lives.

How is this being done? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Trump administration, in its rush to do away with all manner of regulations, appears to consider scientific facts as obstacles to be overcome. This is particularly the case when it comes to the active dismantling of science-based health and safety protections, sidelining scientific evidence, and undoing recent progress” based on scientific research. Here are just a few of dozens of examples:

(1) Trump appointed administrators at the Environmental Protection Agency  have “forbidden SACC [that is, its own Scientific Advisory Committee on Chemicals] from commenting” on EPA decisions concerning such things as worker safety protections, cancer risks, and the (often suspect) quality of industry data.

(2) The Department of the Interior “dismantled the role of science” when looking at protections for endangered and threatened species.

(3) The Department of Agriculture prevented the release of a plan for how the agency can effectively respond to the impacts of climate change.

(4) Trump issued an executive order to “rid federal agencies of one-third of their advisory committees,” many of which provide scientific advice to federal agencies.

(Mike Licht, Flickr)

Without proper scientific standards for review and regulation, we get what David Michaels, former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, calls mercenary science.” This is “science-for-hire, contracted out by chemical and pharmaceutical companies to prove that their harmful products aren’t harmful by giving them the quantitative imprimatur.” This is what happens given inadequately supervised capitalism, where science and truth are separated out for the sake of profit. Before proper regulation, this approach ended up killing and maiming a lot of consumers. It will do so again as Trump deregulates. 

Dishonest Government

A popular sense that those who run the U.S. government are not trustworthy, and do not run the government in the interests of the nation as a whole, is not new. According to multiple polls taken regularly since the end of World War II, this sentiment began to become prevalent in the 1960s, and has persisted ever since. 

It is also interesting that this downturn in confidence in U.S. leadership coincides with the upturn of a culture war still being waged today. In the 1960s, it was the alienating and starkly immoral nature of the Vietnam War that gave impetus to a youth counterculture movement.

Vietnam War protesters. 1967. Wichita, Kansas. (U.S. National Archives)

It was also in the 1960s that the various aspects of an African-American power movement — ranging from the actions of Martin Luther King Jr. to those of the Black Panthers — began to promote politically effective equalitarianism. Therefore, one should not be surprised that a good part of Donald Trump’s “base” is a reactionary force in this war: white, racist and culturally traditionalist. As to the last of these positions, many of Trump’s backers are religious ideologues who wage a societal war against same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ civil rights protections. These are the same “Godly” folks who think evolution is wrong and science a suspect anti-religious enterprise. Simultaneously, they turn a blind eye to Trump’s criminal inclinations. They will support him because they think he is a tool, albeit a lying and cheating one, in some genocidal divine plan.  

However, the cheating culture we are now confronting does not express itself through Trump and his supporters alone. As we have seen, it is wider ranging. So, while the actions of certain Democrats may not match Donald Trump’s venality, you can bet that these Democrats are also undermining honest, representative government.  

Democratic Party cheating became notable in 2012. No doubt it goes back much further, but 2012 is when it literally showed itself on public media. Specifically, the telltale incident occurred on Wednesday, the fifth of September, 2012 — in the middle of a broadcasted session of the Democratic Party convention, no less!

Here is how it went: The Democratic platform committee had decided to keep all issues pertaining to a final treaty between Israelis and Palestinians out of the platform. After all, Israel and Palestine are foreign nations. Among these issues was the final status of the city of Jerusalem. However, the Republican platform of that year “envisioned” Israel with Jerusalem as its capital, and the Republicans were trying to make the status of Jerusalem a campaign issue.

So, President Barack Obama and his platform committee apparently decided that the politically savvy thing to do was to change the Democratic platform to match that of the Republicans.

However, to amend the platform required a two-thirds majority vote from the convention floor. So, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was chairing the Democratic convention, confidently called for a voice vote on the issue.

Villaraigosa called for the vote three times. Each time the viewer could hear that he failed to get the desired result. Between the second and third vote a member of the platform committee went over and told Villaraigosa that he had to rule in favor of the change in wording. So, after the third vote, which again could be heard to fall short of the two-thirds required, Villaraigosa straight out lied and said the delegates had approved the change in wording, and that was that.

Democratic delegate at 2012 convention yelling “no” to  adding plank supporting Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.  (YouTube)

This brazen incident, taking place on national television, was not the last time the Democratic leadership cheated. They rigged the selection process in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and may even now be rigging the selection process against Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in 2020. Also, some Democratic “progressives” are showing signs of being vicious competitors in their own right. 

Cheating, along with its partner habitual lying, undermines both communities and institutions: everything from marriage to commerce, to science, to government. Nothing can stand firm before them once these vices become normative. That is what makes Trump so unacceptable—he represents a social climate wherein honesty can never be assumed. 

Once again, it should be emphasized that Trump, as dangerous as he certainly is, did not cause this present problem. He is just opportunistically exploiting it. In truth, these vices are always latent within society because, for human beings, cheating rather than honesty may be a default position. Thus, we must be taught or otherwise encouraged to be honest with both each other and ourselves. 

This is not just a lesson for parents, schools, the courts, and the marketplace. It is also a necessary lesson for our politics. But we have not managed to come up with a way to vet our leaders so as to assure their long-term honesty and integrity — a process we have been searching for since the time of Plato. Nonetheless, we should try harder, because both history (of which most people are woefully ignorant) and our present circumstances offer us examples of what it means to fail in this regard. Cheating and the habitual lying that comes with it are the ultimate signs of systems failure.  

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

This article is from his site,

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Please Donate to Consortium News.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive or rude language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed. If your comment does not immediately appear, please be patient as it is manually reviewed. For security reasons, please refrain from inserting links in your comments.

49 comments for “The Cultural Problem of Cheating & Lying

  1. Robert Emmett
    March 9, 2020 at 13:07

    Holy shit, Prof! Is this a kind of warmed-over milk-toast served to undergrads nowadays? Yeah, I agree, it’s quite obvious that MediaCorp & rank political operatives have skewered Truth or driven it into deep hiding. But, shit, the Astros & internet term papers for sale? Seriously, that’s what you have? It makes me wonder why some people get protected in their jobs to produce mediocrity while those who work their asses-off get maybe one break before their usefulness is expunged.

    For more crucial examples of greater depths of mendacity please see any number of excellent points provided in the comments here.

    If science-tists readily can be paid to falsify data and to lie for money to mislead people about issues of critical importance then, as a class, they may not be as reliable as they are sometimes cracked-up to be. Caveat emptor ought to apply to everyone and everything (especially to the views of polly-sighers) now ruled by the hallowed market, don’t you think?

    (Sorry to be late to the dance)

    • OlyaPola
      March 10, 2020 at 08:51

      “Caveat emptor ought to apply to everyone and everything (especially to the views of polly-sighers) now ruled by the hallowed market, don’t you think?”

      Form/content conflations facilitate matrices and portals to the matrices.

      The content of “caveat emptor” in present social relations in some societies is an attempt to place responsibilty on others – akin to an insurance excess/restriction clause – a vector in facilitating opportunities of social/system dissolution whilst attempting to maintain a social system.

      The form “caveat emptor” is a vessel that others fill with their own connotations, as are democracy and evil, thereby deflecting attention from the content/existence of “caveat emptor”, “democracy” and “evil”.

      In some relations in some societies the resort to placing responsibility on others enjoys popularity but not with “everyone and everything”.

      However the ideological frames of present social relations have half lifes including in usage of terms/perceptions which refer to part of the social relations- in this case “buying” – in attempt to frame and refer to all the social relations and the interactions/participations there-in.

      Consequently your sought ought “Caveat emptor ought to apply to everyone and everything (especially to the views of polly-sighers) now ruled by the hallowed market, don’t you think?” is a revolution around a fixed point re-enforcing “the hallowed market”.

  2. March 8, 2020 at 09:37

    Yes, indeed, another perspective on Pompeo’s laughingly recited brag about “lying, cheating, and stealing” at CIA.

    But given the empire and America’s vast military/security service behemoth supporting it, I don’t think there is any option to lying, and doing so almost all the time.

    Can America’s remarkable group of leaders in Washington openly admit they are starving children and depriving the sick of medicine in Iran and Venezuela and were working to do so in Bolivia and still other places?

    That they shut down Venezuela’s electricity grid several times so that millions of poor ordinary people likely lost the food in their fridges? And many life-maintaining machines stopped working?

    That they spent, according to the delightful Victoria Nuland, five billion dollars on the coup in Ukraine, doing absolutely nothing for Ukraine’s people and indeed wrecking the country in many ways?

    That ugly stunt after ugly stunt – such as the infamous Skripal Affair in Britain – is done merely to hurt the interests of those America does not like?

    And on and on…

    That is the very nature of empire.

    As I’ve said many times, you can either have a decent country or you can have an empire, but you cannot have bot.

    The infrastructure of empire is built on threats, oppression, subversion, coups, and dishonesty.

    And there is an underlying assumption that a relatively small number of privileged people in the United States is entitled to tell the other 95% of humanity what to do.

    There’s no way the establishment politicians in Washington – including the best Congress money can buy – can one day just take a kind of Boy Scout Oath to reform things.

    Fundamental change is required – including basic matters like taxes which support the creation of plutocracy and the role of money in politics – but I don’t think Americans are prepared to undertake it, and perhaps they are not even able to do so, given the establishment’s powerful tools of self-defense.

    Right now, the Democratic Party is working to shut out Bernie Sanders, and it has already pretty much shut out Tulsi Gabbard, yet neither of those two admirable politicians is even advocating large-scale change.

    The other half of America’s money-controlled political duopoly, the Republican Party, supports a foul-mouthed madman who brags of stealing.

    Well, I believe sadly that America is stuck right where it is until larger events overtake it, and the now-emerging multi-polar world fully takes hold.

    MAGA will be seen as a sad relic of efforts to claw its way back to where it was in 1959, pretty much king of the world.

  3. March 7, 2020 at 18:50

    Trump is an obvious crook. On the other hand, there is insidious cheating among institutions the public still has faith in, and this is going on internationally now. One example is the World Health Organization, tasked with protecting public health worldwide. A coalition of scientists, experts on the biological effects of non-ionizing radiation, has approached them recently with questions on transparency in formulating guidelines and public fact sheets. They sent a letter to the WHO in November of last year requesting to know who exactly was writing the fact sheets, which have been pointed out as total nonsense in light of established scientific evidence of harm to human health and the environment. They have not received any reply as of this date.
    The result of ignoring public health in favor of industry gives the latter a short-term boost, but over the long term as human health fails, it will cause the industry to crash as well as once-burned consumers shy away from their products or become too ill and destitute to purchase and use them.

  4. Brian James
    March 7, 2020 at 15:10

    I always enjoy a great and yet simple truth like this example.


    New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay joined MSNBC’s Brian Williams Thursday night to talk about Michael Bloomberg’s campaign spending, affirming a wildly inaccurate social media claim that Bloomberg could have instead given every American $1 million and had money leftover.


  5. Deniz
    March 7, 2020 at 14:42

    “Therefore, one should not be surprised that a good part of Donald Trump’s “base” is a reactionary force in this war: white, racist and culturally traditionalist. ”

    I believe this is referred to as dramatic irony.

    • Tim
      March 8, 2020 at 19:40

      A stellar article. It shows us the foundation of our existence, without which our societies, and the world as a whole, have ceased to be functional.

  6. March 7, 2020 at 09:45

    This Cheating and Lying has damaged America’s reputation.It’s no longer respected but feared because of its destructive behavior.

  7. Moi
    March 7, 2020 at 01:58

    At time of posting there have been 31 replies about this article. It’s interesting that the words “cheat” has been used 34 times, “greed” has been used 7 times, but the word “tax” has not been mentioned once.

    I take this to mean that cheating on one’s taxes is ingrained in US culture to the point where it’s tacit. Furthermore it’s not seen as being greedy.

    • Josep
      March 8, 2020 at 05:06

      If that weren’t bad enough, there’s also the fact that the US is one of two countries (the other being Eritrea) that forces any citizens living abroad to pay taxes twice – one for the other country and one for the US. There’s a few articles from years ago about Americans giving up their citizenship in droves thanks to this. American Exceptionalism (TM) indeed!

  8. Vera Gottlieb
    March 6, 2020 at 14:40

    As I have stated so often…dishonesty flows in many an American vein. As I once heard…cheating is OK, just don’t get caught. Rather a poor reflection on this society.

  9. rosemerry
    March 6, 2020 at 14:05

    The article just touches the edge of the corruption, caused mainly by the emphasis on power and money.

    “this sentiment began to become prevalent in the 1960s, and has persisted ever since” Remember how Frances Oldham Kelsey was vilified for trying (succeeding!) to stop the BigPharma push for thalidamide to be readily available in the USA, when she knew that its safety was not tested. Thousands of deformed babies were born in countries where this drug was encouraged for pregnant women.

    The whole “Russiagate” hoax began with Hillary’s loss in 2016 and Obama’s disgraceful stealing of the properties owned by Russia in the USA and the expulsion of diplomats, pushing the UK and others to do the same. The USA then supported all the UK lies so that the Skripal drama went on for months, the World Cup in Russia was demonised, and this has not stopped ever since. What justification is there for treating Russia as always the evil one?
    Obama/H. Clinton support for the overthrow of the Honduran government in 2009 led to the present one, which was deeply involved in the murder of activist Berta Caceres (see Vijay Prashad’s article here today).

  10. Charletta Campfield
    March 6, 2020 at 13:42

    The eighth commandment is “Thou shalt not steal.” The ninth commandment is “Thou shalt `not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” The unreliability of our sources of information is very disturbing. A great deal of accurate information is referred to as Russian disinformation. The US corporate world wants us to believe an inaccurate narrative.

  11. Jeff Harrison
    March 6, 2020 at 13:05

    You need some help, Mr. Davidson. The commandment is not a general injunction against lying. The actual language of the commandment is: thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor which is a specific and despicable form of lying. Thus the example you give from the Democratic National Convention did not violate the 8th commandment since it was not a part of either a secular or religious legal proceeding.

    As a general statement, I agree with what you’ve said but… I doubt that lying and cheating are default positions for societies. In simpler societies such behavior reduces your chances of survival. However, I think that you miss the real point. As long as your standard for ethical behavior is the law, you have set the bar so low that there’s little point in having it. That’s what was so absurd about Donnie Murdo’s impeachment (aside from the Republican’s chicanery). They couldn’t really think of any law he broke and couldn’t identify anything else.

  12. Guy
    March 6, 2020 at 12:43

    It is hard to deny that Western governments have slipped into moral decadence . US and UK have become very good examples of it .
    The media is littered with narrative manufacturers ,a perfect example would be bellingcat . Truth has become a rare virtue in a world so full of lies . They lie and can’t even hold a straight face anymore .

  13. jimmy
    March 6, 2020 at 11:58

    An incomplete perspective of the political dishonesty, biased ( dishonestly) against the present liar POTUS. The DNC collapsed in ‘68 because of the cheating by LBJ and Daley machine and the MIC. That was the end of any hope for democracy in our USA.
    Now we get Joe Biden, a contender for the most “corrupt career” in Congress.
    The working people’s candidate ? Don’t make me laugh.
    If this article were truly concerned with a solution to the problem, dealing with what we face now: a system without representative government, a concise appraisal of Joe Biden and the DNC would be appropriate, and worthwhile.

  14. Seer
    March 6, 2020 at 11:54

    Reminds me of an unexpected exchange I had with some stranger via e-mail: somehow I got entangled in someone’s mailing list. I was forwarded some propaganda with a photo-shopped picture on a US military person’s uniform (Afghanistan, I believe). I replied as to this FACT. The response/reply? “Who cares!” I wonder if they still think the lies were worth it.

  15. OlyaPola
    March 6, 2020 at 11:54

    “The Cultural Problem of Cheating & Lying”

    Evaluation is a function of purpose.

    The “culture” referenced tends towards self-absorption and some so absorbed in lesser assay perceive a “problem”.

    However others not prone to “cheating & lying” by default, see myriad opportunities not restricted to the consequences of cheating and lying, but including other aspects of the “culture”.

    Hence Mr. Huntington’s misrepresentations of clash of civilisations may be corrected to read clash of cultures, where a culture in pursuance of its continuance renders itself complicit in its own transcendence, facilitated by its notions of clash of civilisations.

  16. Seer
    March 6, 2020 at 11:50

    Good bet that the decline is a direct inverse of the CIA’s rising power.

    • Tim
      March 8, 2020 at 20:02

      True. With our hard earned taxes, the CIA (I include NSA) has nearly perfected the art of deception. They have and are continually studying the human mind and how deception can be applied to the world at large. Their purpose is to protect and secure US interests at home and abroad. Our only hope is to dismantle it, and repurpose it.

  17. DW Bartoo
    March 6, 2020 at 11:01

    As lying and cheating are being discussed.

    Ought we also consider the intentional cruelty of neoliberalism over these last forty years, which deliberately has reduced the many to squalid and precarious existence that wages may be reduced to skin and bones, that homeless and hunger might whip those not yet in total despair to greater efforts to work harder and harder for less and less.

    The purpose of neoliberalism is to funnel most wealth and all power to the few, regardless the of the harm to human society, to the rise in suicides from for profit “legal” opioids, readily available hand guns, and the widespread option of
    death by cops, regardless of the harm to the capacity of Earth to support existence, even as for profit nuclear weaponry is made “tactical” and more likely to be used in the “first strike” scenario now so popular among the political and military elite.

    But what of another cruelty now being played out in the silly season of presidential politics?

    Is it not an exercise in cruelty for the Democratic Establishment to anoint as their leader a man clearly suffering from dementia?

    No doubt Joe Biden’s family, his wife, siblings, and children, do not want to believe that he is on that distressing pathway, find it hard to accept that the brass ring Biden has sought for decades is really beyond his grasp.

    However, do not his friends, financial backers, and political colleagues not see what is happening, do they not care?

    Should, by some miracle, Biden win the presidency, is a caretaker government anticipated?

    More likely, is his public humiliation a “price worth paying” as part of some elite Democratic calculus?

    At some point, will it not become obvious, to the many, that such cynical kabuki, however well choreographed, is heartless and vile?

    We witness farce, pathetic, pusillanimous, and petty.

    This is what lying and cheating has come to be about.

    It reflects not exemplary success but dismal, whimpering failure.

    • Meg
      March 7, 2020 at 11:46

      I have been thinking for a few days that surely Jill Biden, an intelligent woman, and devoted wife, could not want her husband to go through the painful backlash his obvious dementia will unleash. Might she be encouraged to persuade him to stand down? But, DW, you may be right – perhaps devotion (of his whole family) outweighs denial.
      However…if anybody out there knows Mrs. Biden, please have a talk with her!

  18. March 6, 2020 at 10:48

    Greed is the one and only cultural value that underpins American society in its current form. One expects our elites to be morally corrupt, but over the course of my lifetime the concept of moral judgement seems to have dramatically shifted among the majority of Americans. Popular MSM valorizing of the most greedy and most wealthy individuals decade upon decade has contributed to our society having now completely normalized greed and lying for the power and profit that satisfies greed. We have seemingly rendered honesty and integrity to the dustbin as quaint old world concepts no longer pertinent to current American life. Greed has become the true real-politic of American life.

    The moral corruption of the American psyche that has taken place in one human lifetime is quite stunning and seems complete. The popular mass based civil rights and anti-war protestors of my youth seem almost like a different species compared to this era’s oh so woke, drone-kill progressives, who credulously swallow each and every bit of CIA pro-war propaganda. When greed is the only value, what is right is simply that which makes money, and what is wrong is that which fails to make money. War makes money. One need not be a seer to predict that the greed based dog eat dog ethos we Americans have embraced will surely not end well for us, or for the rest of humanity.

    • Eddie S
      March 6, 2020 at 23:07

      Well said. And I’ve come to believe that unfortunately the US was European-settled by a disproportionate percentage of greedy + religiously zealous people and that those tendencies are in our political DNA. It’s getting harder and harder to envision a ‘soft landing’ from all of this.

  19. Steve Naidamast
    March 6, 2020 at 09:58

    I have a redesign for the US federal government infrastructure that would eliminate a lot of these issues. The redesign primarily consists of direct citizen participation. Of course it would wreak havoc on the wealthy elites as they would have far less of a say as to how policies are developed. But too bad…


    • rosemerry
      March 6, 2020 at 14:07

      It would even actually be a bit like democracy, which is certainly absent in the present system!

    March 6, 2020 at 09:16

    When I was a kid swimming in the local swim league, we had a coach who often said, “show me a cheater and I will show you a winner. His words are echoed in NASCAR’s motto: “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’,” and we all remember the old riddle that has been popular since at least the 1950s: “Q: How can you tell a politician is lying? A: Her/his lips are moving.

  21. March 6, 2020 at 07:18

    I cannot understand the obviously favourable reference to Plato. He was a fascistic totalitarian, who thought the people had no role in politics.

  22. SRH
    March 6, 2020 at 02:57

    “This is what happens given inadequately supervised capitalism”

    “This is what happens given capitalism”. Fixed it for you.

  23. bardamu
    March 6, 2020 at 02:45

    Interesting to see this sort of long view. Cheating is promoted by differences in income and wealth. It is by other things as well, most likely, but the correspondence here, at least, is terrifically well documented (in the work of Richard Wilkinson; there’s a TED talk that’s easy entry, and a discussion of sources and statistics in a final chapter of the book The Spirit Level.

    The mechanism, at least for this much, appears pretty straightforward. Given greater differential in income and wealth, a greater difference between rich and poor, the money differential involved in decisions becomes greater. People therefore make decisions less based on their primary values, and more based on the secondary expediency of money. And, of course, many become so buried in this apparent expediency that they barely recognize what their primary values are.

  24. Dave LaRose
    March 5, 2020 at 21:29

    Thank you for this, Mr. Davidson. Unfortunately too true. Without a moral leader to help us find the right direction, we’ve been in a free fall lately.

  25. SteveK9
    March 5, 2020 at 21:05

    The worst recent example of ‘lying’ for the past few years is Russia-gate. Which was not only dishonest and despicable, but very dangerous. Increasing the threat of a nuclear war that would annihilate this nation, and probably human civilization out of personal spite and for political advantage is about as low as it gets.

  26. Sam F
    March 5, 2020 at 20:28

    Yes, the corrupt rise to the top in our unregulated market economy, for whom lying is “smart” and the civilized are “losers.” This is our government of gangsters until citizens turn off MSM. But they won’t because gangsters control all of the tools of democracy (elections, judiciary, and mass media) beyond a few websites. We must amend the Constitution to get money power out of elections and mass media, then pass the many reforms needed, but presently we have no path to reform.

    We can set up the desperately needed fourth branch of federal government, which I am calling the College of Policy Debate, to conduct moderated textual debates of policy issues in all regions, protecting and representing every viewpoint, in which all views are challenged and must respond, and all parties must come to common terms. The CPD will produce commented debate summaries available to the public with mini-quizzes and discussion groups, with a dramatized lower level to educate those unprepared to study.

    Without that rational analysis and access to the core debates, citizens are no more than the fools of oligarchy opportunists, demagogues, and scammers. We can only hope that as poverty and dissension become prevalent in future depressions caused by the dictators, states will secede economically and then politically. Perhaps history has in store generations of violence before that. In the US, democracy will ultimately be recycled by some such means, when the people are forced to admit their subservience to the dictatorship of the rich. Meanwhile we should explore new institutions like the CPD.

    • rosemerry
      March 6, 2020 at 14:11

      It must have been interesting in the USA when there was the “Fairness Doctrine” for media discussions, and it lasted from 1949 until Reagan tossed it out in 1987. “Evangelical Christians” were among the most vehement opponents of such a dangerous concept.

    • Sam F
      March 8, 2020 at 10:18

      Yes, some sources on history and effects of the MSM’s claimed Fairness Doctrine would be interesting. Apparently it was not enough to prevent McCarthyism, the Turkey/Cuba missile crisis, the wars in Korea/Vietnam/Cambodia, Watergate, etc. Citizens were not given the truth when it was known, let alone all of the viewpoints and challenge responses.

      The organization of mass media seems to preclude any effective doctrine of fairness. They do what their owners say, and the public ignores the problems because truth is too dangerous in work and social environments.

  27. March 5, 2020 at 19:03

    When I told a liberal friend that Warren’s lying about Bernie’s sexism was unforgivable, she said I was too concerned with lying. Yes, it’s the unchallenged norm, as is endless war and nuclear proliferation. Although Davidson did speak of democrat lies, his focus on Trump, whose lies are mostly harmless, weakened his argument.

    • SRH
      March 6, 2020 at 02:58

      Warren? The, er, “Native American” former Presidential candidate? A great example to the USA for telling the truth… /s

    • kurt
      March 8, 2020 at 13:39

      ??? please explain how Trump lies are mostly harmless.

    • juan m escobedo
      March 9, 2020 at 09:28

      This is the best joke,by far.”TRUMP IS A HARMLESS LIAR”.Give me a break…LOL

  28. Charles Watkins
    March 5, 2020 at 18:58

    Everybody cheats in baseball. When you do, they chuckle and say what a great competitor you are. The Astros’ sin was using a camera to cheat, not the cheating itself.

  29. Jared
    March 5, 2020 at 18:26

    That’s just like the superstructure you’re talking about, man. No amount of moralizing is going to address the root material conditions that give rise to winner-take-all, fuck-you-I-got-mine capitalist culture. We have to like give power to the workers, instead. Or better yet, take it.

  30. DW Bartoo
    March 5, 2020 at 17:57

    When, precisely, might you, as a historian, suggest that “honest government”, in the U$, actually existed?

    You mentioned the U$ “war” (which we did not “honestly” even call “a war”) waged against the Vietnamese people.

    Why, even the reason given for that “action”, the so-called “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” was a bald-faced lie. One maintained by Johnson, Rusk, and MacNamara, furthered by Nixon and viciously ramped up to include other nations by Kissinger, who lied and pretended that that expansion was not going on. The CIA had, already, begun heavily playing in the hard drug trade, even then, as the War on Drugs was launched to crush student and black dissent and that was lied about as well.

    Remember WMDs?

    The lie used to start the war (not called a war) against Iraq, even as Congress refused their Constitutional responsibility of declaring war … of holding the Executive branch to account and overseeing a Pentagon now essentially free of any meaningful civilian control (even being excused for failing reasonable audit – no one knows what is spent, how or where). Is that honest?

    That was, also, fully bipartisan, as was the torture program, which the gullible public was told was merely “enhanced interrogation” and initially excused as being the simply the work of a “few bad apples”, even though it was, already, official policy. Perpetual War is bipartisan and very, very profitable.

    You will recall when Brennan lied, to Congress, about massive surveillance.

    And, of course you know about what has happened to those who revealed U$ war crimes, told the truth, about war crimes.

    In fact, would it not be reasonable to suggest that deceit, and propagandistic manipulation of the U$ public (now “legal” by the way, thanks to the efforts of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, who also orchestrated the assault on Occupy) is so widespread and ubiquitous that any who do speak the truth are readily savaged, in the media and from political pulpits, as the greatest of liars?

    Indeed, the primary reason that the recent impeachment of Trump was such a farce was simply because, had the Democrats gone after him for substantive reasons, they would themselves have been culpable for many of the same criminal behaviors.

    Recall, as well, that even before Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning was brought to trial, President Obama, a “Constitutional Scholar”, pronounced her guilty. Hardly an example of respect for honest legal proceedings, it must fairly be said.

    If one looks at the history of the U$, as presented by historian Howard Zinn, or as related in the “Counter” history of Gore Vidal, then it becomes a bit difficult to point confidently to any era of that history as reflecting “honest” governance.

    Frankly, things have pretty much been rigged against the many, in terms of the political economy, from the very beginning.

    However, I would sincerely welcome learning of any time period, in the U$, when the essential functions of governance were not premised upon protecting wealth, property, position, and power.

    This is a constitutional republic with reputed democratic participation by, for, and of, the many, it is claimed.

    Yet the reality is that it is, and always has been, an oligarchy in practice.

    At least that is what my studies, observations, and deeper research, over some six decades has made abundantly clear to me.

    However, I would sincerely welcome learning about any time period, in the U$, when the essential functions of governance were not premised on protecting wealth, property, position, and power.

    • Steve Naidamast
      March 6, 2020 at 10:03

      As you have indirectly stated, the US Constitution was actually designed to be an economic document to maintain the power of the wealthy colonials. Whatever democracy was actually included within it was simply designed as a veneer to appease the masses. But in reality, after the American Revolution was won, the average new American citizens experienced very little change in their daily lives as it regarded freedom and liberty.

      Three major studies over the years have been done on this subject; Charles Beard in his 1913 publication, Lundberg in his 1980 publication, and more recently, McGuire in 2005. They all basically corroborate each other’s studies…

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      March 6, 2020 at 11:44

      Excellent !

    • michael
      March 6, 2020 at 15:54

      Excellent points, and it seemed that this was going to be another trashing of Trump, who for all his lies, hyperbole and BS is just another flavor of our Government and politicians. The Big Lie (such as weapons of mass destruction and Gulf of Tonkin incident) with minor false flags (Assad gassing his people, Remember the Maine!) are indispensable to our Government and its sadistic hegemony over third world nations globally.
      (With the plagerism note, I expected a mention of Joe Biden by name. Since the Ukrainians seem to have declared Joe “Corruption is a Cancer” Biden the most corrupt politician in Ukraine, the most corrupt country in the world (ukrainegate*info), the US with Biden and Trump may be reaching new depths of turpitude. )

    • John Wright
      March 6, 2020 at 16:33

      If you look closely, the war on Afghanistan was also based on a monstrous lie.

    • kurt
      March 8, 2020 at 13:44

      DW Bartoo, I think I can say (in all honesty), man, you just hit the nail right on the head.

    • Tim
      March 8, 2020 at 20:56

      Yes, the lies and deception were there from the inception of our republic and the lying and cheating was rewarded at that time. The common folk could never solve it then. The rule of law, as we know, was always interpreted by lawyers and accountants, and tax collectors working with politicians and this group used their ‘education’ for ill purpose against the commoners. The MSM could always be bought to educate the masses and the police, judicial or miltary could force compliance.

  31. Moi
    March 5, 2020 at 16:10

    This article misses other forms of political cheating like pork-barrelling and gerrymandering. They may be legal but they are certainly morally corrupt.

    Again: people routinely accept and even cheer-on a morally corrupt government.

    It’s also sad that everyone agrees that they can “trust” their government to lie.

Comments are closed.