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© John A. Tyler

Are We All Greedy ?

This is an election year, and every candidate is making promises that I, as an accountant, regard with skepticism.

The founding fathers, who wrote the US Constitution, considered some fundamental aspects of human behavior, when they decided about the nature of our government. They believed that all of us are greedy, and there is no way by legislation alone to make us less selfish and power hungry. So the power to govern was divided between the legislative branch (Congress),the executive branch (The President), and the judicial branch ( The Supreme Court).

The idea was and is that the best way to control the abuse of power is to have it divided into greedy domains and expect that the members of each domain would limit the greedy behavoir of the others.

Accountants, when performing audits, are expected to test the internal controls of the company, which include the term “segregation of duties,” and could also be called “separation of powers.”

The goal is that the internal control system will catch mistakes, including theft and fraudulent activity. It remains to be seen if this same approach is working in political environments.