Howard Wolosky's guest commentary, "Are Ethics and Profits Mutually Exclusive," has sparked some feedback by a couple leaders of the profession.
Rex Gatto, Ph.D. at http://rexgatto.com:
Howard: As always, you present interesting and thought provoking questions and insight. What has happened to our sense of integrity and loyalty? Do we focus on greed and competition or do we focus on what is in the best interest of our firm, community and nations? We need to find leaders who will go against the current events of the day to be role models for ethical behavior. It is difficult to turn around a nation that is going in the wrong directions but it can be done in our communities and cities and work upward. CPAs are trusted advisors who care and want to support their clients. Who are the inspirations leaders who are being inclusive rather than exclusive to pull a wounded economy and national together is the macro question. The micro question is can people in a profession such as CPAs provide the ethical leadership and direction that is needed. CPAs can and should provide ethical leadership while working with their clients, guiding them to do the right things. Ethics and profits can concurrently exist in a healthy and correct way.
The answer to your headline question is a resounding NO!
As George Gilder demonstrated in his 1981 masterpiece Wealth & Poverty, profits are an index of altruism - the other centeredness of the business. Oil companies have been highly profitable because they create great value for their customers.
What you are talking about if FRAUD. Fraud and 99% of all business do not go hand in hand. The most despicable thing that has come out of the past few months in the ever increasing belief that businesses and business people are all evil frauds. The overwhelming majority are not.
Recovery demands that we reverse the thinking on this. Regulation along will not do it. I am with you that transparency is absolutely needed. The reason is it turns us all into potential regulators.
No matter what laws are passed there will never be a governmental agency that can uncover all fraud. No should the elimination of all fraud by the goal, it is just not possible.
Life is risky! If zero risk is the goal, you should end your life now!