The Importance of Ethical Standards

This week, banking regulators announced fines totaling over $4 billion against six banks from around the world, including Switzerland’s UBS and the USA’s JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.  Some weren’t ready for a deal:

London-based Barclays Plc., which had been in settlement talks, said it wasn’t ready for a deal.

This seemed a little like déjà vu to me, since I was living in Houston when the Enron scandal broke.  Though many will recognize the “Crooked E,” perhaps some will not be familiar with the systemic nature of the scandal in Houston and the energy industry, particularly as it related to trading.  Some will note that the venerable accounting firm Arthur Anderson is no more because it was caught shredding Enron documents in the wee hours of the morning before investigators could arrive.  However, many other energy firms were involved—this is rarely discussed.

Probably the most important component in the implementation of ethical standards in medicine is the medical society.  Universities and clinics and hospitals play a role, but it is the medical society which forms an assembly of physicians and nurses who desire to perform the healing arts in a particular way.  If we want to legislate healthcare and have a bunch of regulations which delineate the paperwork of the medical profession, let the state medical boards be involved in that.  However, the medical societies should be about the profession itself, how medicine is to be practiced day in and day out.  Really, each profession should erect such a society in which to govern practitioners, whether related to business (oil & gas, banking), academia (research scholarship, writing), government (political parties), the arts (movie production, acting), or whatever.  What counts is that professionals are interested in the deep-down issues of philosophy and theology that undergird ethical standards.

For Further Study

Ring, Suzi, et al., “Six Banks to Pay $4.3 Billion in First Wave of Currency-Rigging Penalties,,” Bloomberg, November 12, 2014.

“Called to Account: Behind the Enron Scandal,” Special Report, Time.


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