The American Way: Performance-Enhancing Drugs and Cooperate Corruption
The recent scandal surrounding baseball players taking performance-enhancing drugs parallels the reckless, unethical and criminal behavior of corporate executives. Of course all of this is presented by our political leaders and the media as an aberration of an otherwise good system with a few “bad apples”. This is neither true of baseball nor other sports, nor is it true of our financial and economic system. In sports, baseball and business for sure, the code of conduct is about “winning.” As the high priest of football, Vince Lombardi said, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” The same can be said about the world of American business.
Yet, this focus on winning at all cost-using steroids and other drugs which boost performance and getting the highest short term financial return at the expense of the investors and workers in the company, is what “taking care of business” is about in America. Rigging the system, as the infamous Bernie Madoff did, is fair game if you do not get caught. Spying on the other team, as 3 time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Belichick, was caught doing, is part of what is call getting a competitive edge. This ethos of winning defines our real, not professed values. There was once a time when sports was supposed to “build character”- “it’s not if you win or lose the game” the saying went, but “how will you play the game.” That is as close to a fairy tale as you will get.
What is needed to change all of this is not a lecture from the President or right wing mouth pieces. Rather, an examination and change in the policy and practice which continuously distributes and redistributes wealth and money to corporations and their enablers at the expense of working and poor people in America. Accumulating great sums of wealth-winning, being a dominant players-winning- has little to do with ability or smarts, and much more to do with cheating and rigging the outcome. Few will want to face it, but in politics, sports, business and indeed life- this is the American Way, until we dare impose a system which places priority on everyday people and on “Doing the Right Thing”, especially when no one is looking.