Although plagiarism has a long history in American education, it has probably never been as widespread as it is nowadays. Computers make it easy to cut and paste text, and the Internet makes thousands of articles, essays and other material available, seemingly for the taking. However, this convenience doesn't make it morally right. In fact, I will argue just the opposite. You should not plagiarize other people's work when writing term papers. There are two main reasons supporting this contention, and the main objection to it can be rebutted.
The first reason is that plagiarism is stealing from others. When someone creates a paper, it belongs to them; it's their property. Certainly, if the paper you're copying and pasting from is any good, then someone had to put some real work into writing it. So it's unfair to that writer to skim off their hard work just to get a grade.
The second reason to think that you should not plagiarize is that plagiarism is stealing from yourself. The point of writing papers is to learn how to think and to express yourself. You obviously can't do that by simply copying something that someone else has written.
On the other hand, someone might object to my argument on the grounds that some paper-writers don't mind if you use their work. After all, there are many websites where students voluntarily upload their work, thereby making it available to others. You can't call something stealing if the owner gives it away freely. This objection is not convincing, however, because even when someone--even a friend--gives you a paper to use as if it were your own, you're still stealing from yourself.
Based on this reasoning it is clear that you should not plagiarize other people's work when writing term papers.