CBS News.com recently featured a two-part story about cheating at college. It's the tale of a young lady who, for $40 an hour, wrote admission essays for high school students, and term papers for college seniors. One kid, she claims, would've failed his class without her help. He flunked all of the tests! But where did that kid--and many others--get the money to pay this enterprising young woman? Mom and Dad. Asked what that says about our society--that there's a market for her services--Kristal says: "I think it shows how competitive our society's become, and that it's become mostly about status, not education." How right she is. No longer do the means matter...it’s the ends we're demanding...and we're less willing to work for them each day.

But what's really chilling to me about such academic fraud is the enormous gamble we are taking with America's economic future...and how people of integrity will be the only answer we can offer. Listening to the Dennis Prager Show  the other day, I was duly rattled by an interview with business journalist and author, Ted Fishman. He's written a troubling, yet compelling book titled "China, Inc." Fishman's simple, yet frightening premise is clear. Remember the book "Megatrends," back in the 80s? When John Naisbitt correctly predicted that we were moving toward an information and service economy? Over time, as prophesied, we've driven much of America's manufacturing efforts to other countries, where raw materials and labor are more affordable. Today, our biggest retailer--Wal Mart--purchases many of its products from China, as doing so keeps their costs low, and profits high. The trade imbalance between our two countries runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Why? Because American business counts on other countries to purchase our knowledge, our entertainment, and other such intellectual property. Fishman reminds that we expect nations like China--especially China--to buy American-made computer software, movie tickets, DVDs, CDs, and the like, in order for our huge gamble to pay off.   But here's the problem: many in those countries have pirated our software...obtained our business secrets from the internet...and manufactured bootleg copies of our entertainment, which they are selling at enormous profit. What happens, then, when China--which already dwarfs America and Europe in population--can manufacture nearly everything Western nations can make, and at a fraction of the cost? We're talking cars, computers, jumbo jets, pharmaceuticals--everything that drives our economies. Are we prepared for when this all hits critical mass, in a few years?
It's a troubling notion. Most especially if our nation, by then, is being run by a handful of political and business leaders who cheated their way into college.