Topic: Government & Politics

Government Enron-Style
3/4/2004)

Ethics Scoreboard sends kudos to the clever folks at Reason (See Links) for wading through Congressional testimony to find this statement (on March 3) from the US Comptroller:

As in the 6 previous fiscal years, certain material weaknesses in internal control and in selected accounting and reporting practices resulted in conditions that continued to prevent us from being able to provide the Congress and American citizens an opinion as to whether the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government are fairly stated in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

As outrageous as the scandals in the corporate sector have been, it is absolutely clear that the accounting practices of our government are every bit as dishonest, deceptive, and indefensible, with U.S. citizens, rather than stockholders, on the receiving end of the flim-flam. The President, Senators, Representatives, and regulators have no choice but to condemn the corporate crooks, but they should restrain their indignation given their own complicity in financial fraud that is on an even greater scale. Sadly, it is unlikely that either Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry will focus on this fact, given the bi-partisan responsibility for the financial shell-game. But they ought to. If the government is going to unambiguously reject the motives and damaging values…greed, cowardice, untrustworthiness, incompetence… that drove Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, et al., it has to change its own deceptive ways.

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