Published February 1974 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Ripoffs, Kickbacks, Cheating and Hanky-Panky Recent news reports have told of students, seeking admission to medical and law schools, who have paid advanced students to take entrance examinations for them. Other reports have told of thesis mills where students can buy papers on almost any college subject, and still others have told of other forms of campus cheating. To a public surfeited with Watergate, such dishonesty may create no great stir. But it, and other manifestations of contemporary morality, should be enough to give any American pause. We have much to be proud of in our country, of course. But no citizen can be proud of the cheating being done in professional schools, the rise in white collar crime, entertainment payola, political payoffs, kickbacks, corporate hanky-panky, misuse of union funds, employee rip-offs from employers, or the growing number of shoplifters. Even the once simon-pure Soapbox Derby so many kids loved has been tainted by cheating and dishonesty. When one puts it all together, one gets a sorry picture of the current state of U. S. ethics and morality. Watergate seems only the tip of the iceberg. This is not to mitigate or excuse Watergate's sordidness, but rather to point out that what has happened in the nation's political life is symptomatic of a malaise that runs through much of the rest of our social fabric. The most basic problem in America today is not energy nor the Mideast, nor detente, nor inflation-critical though these problems are. It is, instead, the breakdown of the values and standards upon which our nation was built, and the desperate need that now exists for a restoration of simple honesty and decency and integrity in all aspects of our national life. That is the great challenge that America faces as it approaches its bicentennial That is the great challenge that confronts our political parties, our professional and trade associations, our corporations, our public officials. our union leaders, our service c l u b s, our teachers and preachers -and. yes, America's Mothers and Dads.