First, Let's Kill All the Accountants
2002-02-13 17:46:27

Private Idaho
put down the patchouli
-- Donkey Hotey


There's a myth that Shakespeare liked lawyers, but he hated them. Yet, if he were alive today, he'd hate the lying, thieving accountants even more.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." [Henry VI, Part 2]

It's a quote that's been twisted (by lawyers, naturally) to suggest that Shakespeare actually appreciated that debased, moneygrubbing class of professional fixers and sophists. Nothing could be further from the truth - the Bard really despised lawyers, and he made his visceral aversion quite plain in more than one of his plays. Lest you doubt any of this, you're cordially invited to check it out here.

But Shakespeare only hated lawyers so much because he didn't have high-priced public accountants around in Elizabethan times aiding and abetting the callous robbery of honest investors and pensioners, not to mention widows and orphans.

What else can it be called, when a Big-5 public accounting firm gets caught shredding (presumably incriminating) documents immediately upon receiving notice of a SEC investigation? What's worse, it looks like they'll maybe get away with it by sacrificing just one Partner. (If the Big-5 / AICPA / FASB / etc. mafia works like the real mob, his family will be supported while he's spending a few years in a Federal country-club, paying the Firm's penance, and he'll be "rehabilitated" into some low-profile CFO position when he gets out.)

Then there's whatizname Pitt, the sleazy accounting-industry lobbyist who just happens to be Chairman of the SEC right now. His major prior accomplishment was dissuading the previous SEC Chairman from imposing strict prohibitions on the Big-5 accounting firms against conflicts of interest stemming from doing both audit and consulting work for the same clients. Which is precisely what gave Andersen motives to shirk their audit responsibilities, in several cases (Sunbeam, Waste Management, Baptist Charities of Arizona, and... yes, Enron).

There's also Wendy Gramm, former Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who pushed deregulating futures trading in new commodity financial products and futures derivatives just in time to gain a seat on Enron's Board. It didn't disadvantage her that she happens to be married to a Texas Senator.

But where were the watchdogs? Well, I guess we understand what happened over at the SEC by now. The AICPA is a toothless old-boys club of semi-retired former Senior Partners in - you guessed it - the very Firms they're supposed to oversee. They would never do anything to inconvenience their former Firms, perhaps jeapardizing their handsome half-salary lifetime pensions. Similarly, the FASB is another insiders club of accountants who pretend to "promulgate" a bunch of impenetrably opaque accounting standards, but whose real function is to buffer the practicing accounting firms (and their corporate clients) from any meaningful public disclosures of financial information long enough to let the roaches scurry for cover. And there are roaches, as we now start to see, with big companies restating earnings and scrambling to hide their deceptions.

Whatizname Pitt has recently proposed another accounting watchdog organization as a way of distracting from the crying need to gut and reconstitute both the AICPA and the FASB. (Google these acronyms, if your not familiar with them.)

The major problem, however, is that while all of this good-old-boy political bribery, corporate fraud, and big-accounting / regulatory collusion coverup is proceeding, the rest of our nation's economy is holding its breath. Millions of people, good people, are out of work due to no fault of their own, hanging on, cutting back, getting evicted, losing their good credit, falling on hard times, all because a scant minority of major-league corporate assholes were allowed to corrupt this country's politicians and the financial regulatory agencies, merely for personal gain, at devastating costs to ordinary people.

Perhaps the people need to get downright medieval with certain major assholes. Maybe an Interim Burning Man, complete with the entire management committee of Andersen, the Board and Executives of Enron (plus a few other deserving companies), and selected regulatory agency executives and politicians as "guests of honor" might focus attention on the fundamental truths that real power resides with the people, and that those who lead us, merely serve us.

Let's burn a few accountants, etc., first. Then we'll kill all the lawyers.

Dunkin' Idaho is a non-violent person. While in the Space Marines, he served as a medic and Discordiant Chaplain of the Church of the Sub-Genius, ministering to soldiers of all species, ethnicity, sexes, and psychotropic orientation. Any similarity to incitement of anything is coincidental.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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