I allow anyone to comment on my blog posts. This leads to a nice worldwide conversation, but lately that is being overtaken by about 5-10 spam posts per day, which I have to delete by hand.
They are computer generated posts — I can tell because the same phrases are used over and over again — with links to e-commerce web sites targeting specific keywords. I have to delete these by hand every day or two. (Fortunately, WordPress is very blackberry friendly, so I can actually delete spam posts from my blackberry from anywhere. But it is slow.)
Soon I’ll get a CAPTCHA WordPress plug-in so that my blog can’t be spammed.
But what bothers me is that spammers would ruin a good blog in order to make a few bucks. If we think we have a corporate ethics problem in this country, we’ve got to realize that it starts at the individual level asking yourself what would you do to make a buck?
Would you do something that would hurt the whole in order to get ahead?
Here’s a quote from ClarkHoward.com:
Mar 30, 2005 — Why people cheat on their taxes
Cheating on taxes has become an epidemic in the United States. One in six dollars that we’re supposed to pay to the IRS is not being collected because people are lying and cheating on their taxes. Even worse, the people who are not cheating are subsidizing the people who do to make up for that loss. Human behavior plays a part in whether people cheat for sure. But, so does the tax code itself. Citizens think the tax code is unfair, confusing and subject to special interest. All of these opinions are true, not to mention the fact that the IRS doesn’t even understand the tax code. People call to get help on their taxes, and 20 percent of the time the answer is wrong. Clark thinks a “fair tax” system would be the way to go. It would be much easier to understand and would be bi-partisan. We had a system like that in 1986, but it didn’t stick. The way to make it stick, in Clark’s opinion, is to put roadblocks in place when someone is trying to change the law. If the law were more transparent and open, it would also prevent more people from cheating.
The majority of high school and college students admit to cheating, with about half admitting to “serious test cheating.”. What about those who don’t admit it but do it?
A few years ago, Wired had an article on how the internet makes cheating easier than ever before.
Cell phones can enable cheating as well.
Imagine what will happen to the US economy if 75% of our students cheat their way through school, employees spend a fourth of their time surfing the web on non-work related stuff, costing the US economy more than $750 billion per year in productivity, and if spammers ruin our search engines and other perfectly good web sites (including my blog) in order to make a buck?
If everyone is all about making a buck, no matter what the cost, no wonder Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner) says “we are at or near the apex of a great civiliation.” (Source: notes to myself from the 2005 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting.)
Last week Stan Ricks, a local real estate developer and partner in Trophy Homes, said that too many wealthy business people make money at the expense of others, and at the end of their wealth-acquiring lives, they look bad, and feel empty, and then try to do a few philanthropic things to make up for all the bridges they burned.
I wonder how many Americans, if given a chance to make a ton of money at public expense, would jump on it, without thinking for a moment about the largest consequences, the impact on others or on society.
If too are willing to cheat or have a get-rich-quick attitude, without considering the losers in most schemes (whether it be a pyramid scheme or a spamming strategy), how do we avoid sinking into a free-for-all that permanently damages the economic pillars of our civilization?
How do we stay competitive if the majority of our high school and college students are cheating, which means they are willing to compromise their integrity to get ahead.
These statistics portend tough times for us, I’m afraid, unless we can find some ways to stem the tide.