Grumpy Accountant

What happepened to integrity?

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to become a Chartered Accountant.    I have been proud to have the opportunity to uphold, to the best of my ability, what I believe that qualification, above all else, stands for, namely integrity.

It therefore saddens me greatly that some of the most high profile of my fellow CA’s do not appear to share my focus on integrity.     My perception of what was reported this past weekend about the role that CA’s played in the MG Rover debacle is that those CA’s involved have sold out on integrity, basically providing services of little value but great damage to our society.

This episode calls to mind something I took on board at a conference 3 or 4 years ago.    The speaker asked the question:  “Why would you take on a client you didn’t like?” – the purpose of the question being to highlight the fact that a difficult personal relationship could so easily be reflected in a difficult professional relationship.    He went on to say:  “Isn’t doing that somewhat akin to the oldest profession?”.

Practitioners of the oldest profession are, I believe, forced into that profession mainly because it is their only means of survival.     It seems to me that the only possible motivation for my fellow professional accountants selling services that cause profound consequential damage, personal greed, is much worse than prostitution.    I object equally profoundly.

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14/09/2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let’s get together

While I’m more than aware that anger is seldom a winning strategy, what are we left with when none of our political parties seem willing to sense, much less act on, the mood of the electorate?

The Conservatives, ably assisted by the inaccurately named Taxpayers Alliance, want to cut off recovery at the knees by focussing on debt repayment instead of economic stimulus, Lib Dems seem to want to focus on dirty tricks in local politics and, worst of all, Labour sits on its hands, paralysed with indecision and fear that it can’t win any argument.   Meanwhile, UKIP and the BNP – no, I’m not bracketing them together politically – exploit what the main parties aren’t doing in order to pick up dissident votes.

Our politics have become nothing but a quest for power for power’s sake instead of a desire to achieve something worthwhile.    None of the parties appear to have either desire or stomach for confronting real problems, principally the way in which money has displaced any notion of value.   They truly know the price of everything and the value of nothing.    As a direct result, plain and simple greed rules our lives totally unchallenged in any meaningful way.

How can any rationale human being justify or tolerate a state of affairs where;

  • the banking system is allowed to become so dominant, so central to our economy that, despite its more or less total responsibility for our economic woes, it dictates to the rest of the population that it is above regulation, that the people who got us into this mess continue to be worthy of grotesque incomes while everyone else pays the price of their folly and greed?
  • corporate greed, such as British Airways revealing a few weeks ago that it had not actually paid pension contributions to its employee pension fund and was being “forced” to renege on mere commitments to pay those contributions, goes unhindered and unchecked while its pensioners, current and future, pay the price?
  • personal greed, most recently the revelations about the MGRover 4, or is it 5, does not lead to any attempt to pursue and recover ill-gotten gains?
  • people who live in this country and are pretty much forced to pay their share are obliged to live with the fact that extremely wealthy foreigners pay little or nothing due to their special, non-domiciled, status for fear, totally unproven, that the privileged few might leave our shores;our population, what makes our country tick, sinks further and further into the abyss of inequality, where the rich grow richer and the poor poorer?

The standard bearers of the status quo say that we are individually responsible for ourselves while conveniently ignoring that the status quo is what makes individual responsibility so difficult for so many people.    How can the laid off MGRover worker be individually responsible while a handful of individuals are allowed to behave in their own interests even when that behaviour results in literally thousands losing their jobs?

Those same standard bearers suggest that we’re all greedy, that there’s no such thing as society, quietly ignoring evidence that, as human beings, we tend towards acting collectively, not individually; if that wasn’t the case, why then does commerce play so heavily on must-have goods and services, the fact that we want to keep up with the Joneses by having the latest mobile phone, the latest LCD television or the latest cool brand?

Unequivocally, I believe that most of our people, whatever their particular political persuasion, are stronger together than they are individually.   But who will represent this vast majority?

Not Labour, it seems, who, despite their very real achievement in leading the way by saving the banking system and stimulating the economy, lie frozen in their bunker, unable or unwilling to articulate much less propose answers that appeal to the majority.

Not the Conservatives, dressed in the Emperor’s new clothes of grand policies with little of substance behind them, who alone among Western economies believe that repaying debt is better value than making sure that as few people as possible are terminally damaged by the hardship and consequential disillusionment that unemployment inevitably entails.

Not the Lib Dems, who, despite the good sense of Vince Cable, have had so little to say lately.

But what depresses me most is my own failure.   I am ashamed to be part of a very fortunate generation who have sleepwalked into this nightmare.    It’s on our watch that greed has been granted priority over all else.    We’ve enjoyed life chances most of our children probably never will; many of us had opportunities to improve our wealth and status, to buy our own homes, to benefit from the windfall of nightmarish increases in property prices, to ignore the perils of climate change.  What a terrible mess we leave as an inheritance for our children.     The least we owe them is to make our own small noises that together, ie collectively, could become a very loud noise that no prospective government can ignore.

14/09/2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment