Guest post: Not just the COI, but the appearance of COI

Originally a comment by Samantha Vimes on 153 million.

I’m studying accounting ethics this semester.

Every time the possibility of conflict of interest comes up in the accounting code, it states that a person must avoid not only a conflict, but the appearance of conflict. For example, an accountant shouldn’t take a job auditing a company if they have a relative who works for the company, if they’ve gotten gifts from the company, if they have a significant investment in the company, or if they provide other services for the company– anything that might make them biased. Even if the accountant is as honest as can be: part of the responsibility of an accountant is to maintain the reputation of their profession, which can’t be done if people suspect you had reason to forget your duty to the public.

The same is true for politicians and judges— the public is losing faith in the system because the people with power think nothing of being in bed with special interests. And we really don’t care whether the politician is a true believer in corporatism or whether they’ve been bought. Either way, the politician is pursuing the interests of themselves and their friends and allies, and not thinking about justice or compassion or democracy.

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