Accountants oppress us

I always thought dictators oppressed people and denied human rightss – but now I learn it’s really the accountants.

Big accountancy firms were among the foremost supporters of the apartheid regime in South Africa and have been accused of appeasing Nazi Germany just before the outbreak of World War II, sending a special delegation to cultivate a profitable opportunity.

Without tax revenues, no government can meet its human rights obligations. These include the citizens’ right to education, healthcare, housing, pension and security. Yet accountancy firms have developed a vast organisational infrastructure designed to empty the public purse.

Read the whole thing if you want to be appalled – the author is a professor of accounting. How does that work – teaching that the single largest employer of your students are likely to support odious regimes and war criminals?

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47 Responses to Accountants oppress us

  1. steve

    Accountants are scary, luckily we have economists to reassure us

  2. Infidel Tiger

    Nazi Accountants.

    Wouldn’t that party be a laugh riot.

  3. Tel

    Wouldn’t that party be a laugh riot.

    Bring your best schnapps to the work Christmas function, and don’t even glance at the Auditor’s frauline. Other than that you should be OK, just keep your boots shiny at all times.

    Seriously though:

    http://eh.net/book_reviews/statistics-and-the-german-state-1900-1945-the-making-of-modern-economic-knowledge/

    Both before and during the Nazi regime, the German state was at the forefront of systematically collecting statistics on citizens in order to control them. They understood the fundamental adage: “You can’t control what you can’t measure.” The Western world defeated the Nazis but they also borrowed a lot of technology from them too.

  4. Tel

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust

    Gives a new meaning to punching out, huh?

    See that I did there? I’ll be here all week folks!

  5. Jessie

    Coincidence…
    just squizzing at
    Management accounting and control systems in the context of public sector reforms : a case study of a government department in Papua New Guinea
    authored by the ex-Minister Dept of Finance Thaddeus Kambanei

  6. Matt

    Ernst & Young was reportedly once described by the UK’s senior tax collector as “probably the most aggressive, creative, abusive provider” of tax avoidance schemes.

    Great advertising and promotion for E&Y, no?

  7. Bruce of Newcastle

    Ooh this could be fun! Let me see.

    Without tax revenues, no government can meet its human rights obligations. These include the citizens’ right to education, healthcare, housing, pension and security.

    Hmm. Education. Why are all those parents paying for private schools then? No rights there. Healthcare. I pay an insurance company premium. No rights there, since the government doesn’t pay it for me. Housing. I bought it myself, off the government as it happens. I even had to write to the Minister to get them to honour their own contract. Nup, no rights, just government bureaucratic crap. Pension. I have money stuck in a super fund which I can’t get at. I would if I could so that it was in my own control and not subject to confiscation, as in Argentina. I had no choice but to contribute to it. No rights there either. Security. At last something the government does! Of course they make it very hard to own weapons (I like big ones, being a guy who has worked in the uranium industry) so their contribution to my security is arguable. But I’ll grant them something.

    Yet accountancy firms have developed a vast organisational infrastructure designed to empty the public purse.

    If there was no, or a much smaller, public purse, since the government obviously cannot do education, healthcare, housing and pensions well, certainly in my case, then the accountants would have nothing to empty. And anyway, they have to stand in line with the legions of lefty public servants sucking my taxes down, not least from the execrable ABC commie wankers.

  8. I knew the bastards were humourless party poopers, but wow!

  9. rebel with cause

    He shows himself to be very confused in the comments:

    …one might argue that the very nature of accounting causes disturbance, whether it is the way pensions are accounted or the tendency of accounting to describe payments to society (tax) as a cost and hence a burden. The logic that is then unleashed is that it we must reduce burdens/costs and thus tax avoidance is legitimate even though it has social consequences. Interestingly, payments to finance capital (dividends) are never described as ‘cost’ in accounting and the logic is that these payments/returns should be maximised. The very language of accounting causes trouble and disturbance.

    I’d punch my accountant in the nose if he starts telling me that my tax payments are ‘an investment’. And dividends are a cost? To whom? Don’t tell me he doesn’t know that dividends are paid to the people that own the company.

  10. Rococo Liberal

    Ernst & Young was reportedly once described by the UK’s senior tax collector as “probably the most aggressive, creative, abusive provider” of tax avoidance schemes.

    I spent 10 years at EY. I am proud that it was known as the best tax avoiding planner. Tax avoidance is a noble thing.

    I was there when EY came into being after a merger between Ernst and Whinney and Arthur Young. They decided to go to some big advertisig/PR firm to get a new logo. Millions were spent and the current logo was produced. Here in Sydney we noticed straight away that the logo says “LIE” if you read it in a mirror. We pointed this out to the people n charge but of course nothing was done about it.

    Have a look at the EY logo and you will see what I mean.

    I suppose EY now wear the symbol with pride like Holden keeps selli0gn Pajeros even though the term means ‘wanker’ in South American spanish

  11. Rococo Liberal

    Rebel

    There is nothing more stupid than a left-wing accountant.

  12. Notafan

    Arthur Whinney’s was always my preferred name change for that merger.

  13. JC

    You’re doing God’s work, RL.

  14. Rococo Liberal

    I assume that accountancy lecturers are held in the same disdain by real accountants as academic lawyers are held by lawyers who actually have a practising certificate.

  15. Rococo Liberal

    Thanks, JC

    SInce I left EY and went into the law, I have found it is even more fun helping people avoid tax, because now I can write the agreements that do it.

  16. rebel with cause

    And how much of our taxes gets shunted to third world dictators via foreign aid budgets, the IMF and World Bank? It’d be in the trillions. But that’s an ‘investment’ according to this loon.

  17. LordAzrael

    Accountants are generally are the forefront of economic conservatism – I’ve noticed in the last two decades a tendency for the consultancy side of the big firms to now have specialists in how to best milk the government, and those partners are usually ex-govt (logically).

    Note also his non-classical definition of human rights. Education is a human right. Health care is human right, housing is a human right. No its not you economic illiterate fucktard. If you have to take it from someone to give it to someone else its not a human right, its welfare.

  18. Raider580

    Its not Accountants who are dangerous, its Gardeners. If Hitler had to mow his own grass he would not have had time to invade other countrys.

  19. LordAzrael

    Found his resume online. Check out the articles. I always wondered what a Labor Accountant would look like – now I know.

    http://visar.csustan.edu/aaba/PremsikkaCV.pdf

  20. jumpnmcar

    I don’t know about that nazi crap but those accountant arseholes actively lobby for a more complex taxation system.
    Fuck them I say, simplify it.

  21. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Move along there, nothing to see really, just same old, same old.
    Librarians against books, doctors against medicine, teachers against teaching anything useful, architects against building things (except tin sheds), lawyers against law, judges against justice, police against policing, journalists against reporting, and now accountants against accounting.

  22. ar

    They treat us like numbers!

  23. Tom

    Move along there, nothing to see really, just same old, same old.
    Librarians against books, doctors against medicine, teachers against teaching anything useful, architects against building things (except tin sheds), lawyers against law, judges against justice, police against policing, journalists against reporting, and now accountants against accounting.

    Brilliant.

  24. wreckage

    Those BASTARDS. How… how could they? How could they understand tax law? *SOB*

    WHY GOD WHY?

  25. jumpnmcar

    Having bagged accountants above I must make a notable exception in Barnaby who is, afaik, the only one in Parliament.
    He’s ok, the rest shitbags.

  26. Dan

    Interestingly, payments to finance capital (dividends)

    That is completely bizarre

    And the argument is that it is immoral to deprive governments of income and this somehow is due to the fact that the governments he names were oppressive or murderous?

  27. Dan

    That said, the business about the ad in Hong Kong is very strange.

  28. Peter from SA

    As the concentration camp guards were just “obeying orders” … ho hum … I severely doubt any white collars peoples could be involved with genocide. Nah, that’s just silly …

  29. Perfidious Albino

    CV reads as someone who didn’t cut it in the commercial world and found solace in academia.

  30. Perfidious Albino

    The professor is a regular contributor to The Guardian and Huffington Post, unsurprisingly…

  31. LordAzrael

    Going to contradict the above. Accountants don’t lobby for more complicated laws. Its the left who keep perpetuating the class war and arguing that the “rich” aren’t paying their share which leads to more and more complicated laws to catch the “evaders”. Accountants hate this sort of work – clients don’t like paying for it and its boring as batshit without adding any real value.

  32. wreckage

    Regarding the guy hyperventilating over accountants applying tax laws exactly as they were intended to be applied: this same prick would faint dead away if you proposed a flat tax, or lower taxes with no exemptions.

  33. Habib

    Accountants are evil, they’re one peg above laywers, and well below disc jockeys, serial pederasts and politicians. Especially at tax time. Discount that auditors, they are the templar knights of counting beans. I have a cousin who’ve just scored an AM for doing major damage to dreadful governments in WA and Victoria. I’m amazed he got the gong.

  34. Ben Gray

    Anyone else hear the echo of the socialists from Atlas Shrugged? Someone should tell him it was a warning not a guide!

  35. Roger

    teaching that the single largest employer of your students are likely to support odious regimes and war criminals?

    Umm…hello, Sinclair. I believe you are a University lecturer; therefore you can reasonably be expected to know that a singular subject takes a singular verb. I believe Economics is an interloper in the contemporary University curriculum (along with many other subjects), but that’s no excuse for poor English composition, old chap. Lift your game.

  36. Robert Crew

    Look, if a pundit no one has ever heard of, can’t even provide a single quote or even a single sentence supporting their own thesis (his ft.com link is hidden behind a paywall, but doesn’t support his thesis, see below) and he considers the “inalienable right to live free from want”, rather than being the central impossibility of economics, as a reasonable demand), why even bother requoting them?

    You can’t reason with the unreasonable, even if (or especially if) The Conversation reposts their ridiculous rants.

    None of the quoted articles support the given thesis. All that was said by the “big four”, according to the ft.com translation of the supposed HK ad, was that the protests planned for the doorways of their buildings would disrupt traffic and discourage businesses from using those spaces; simple common-sense. There was zero quoted comment by the “big four” on the content of the “Occupy” protests, after all, these crony capitalists supported the Occupy NY movement, were the main recipients of TARP bailouts, and are donating record amounts of money from those TARP funds to US Democrats, particularly Hilary Clinton. Unlike the US (or here), the “rule of law” is considered foundationally important in Hong Kong, as it is almost universally recognised as the basis of their economic world leadership.

    Even the ChiComs recognise the value of the English Common Law prevalent in Hong Kong, and wouldn’t be stupid enough to do anything seen as “killing the golden goose”.

  37. MartinG

    I think he’s confusing accountants with tax advisers.

  38. James Hargrave

    Thinking of merger names, I always wanted the Commercial Union-General Accident insurance merger in the UK to produce Commercial Accident (probably a more accurate bit of naming than any might tolerate).

    Problem with accountants is that the first one I knew (relative) was a crook – subsequently convicted; and one I was at school with was an auditor who notices nothing wrong at Barings just before they went down. And someone who helped minimise VAT for clients decided he would rather study 17th century history for a PhD and earn a living as a flautist. I think we have too many of them, an unhealthy almost cancerous growth. See no need to dissent from the view of Sir Sam Fay, a leading railway manager of a century ago, who had no time for their supposed predictive qualities.

  39. Demosthenes

    Both before and during the Nazi regime, the German state was at the forefront of systematically collecting statistics on citizens in order to control them. They understood the fundamental adage: “You can’t control what you can’t measure.”

    Didn’t an early governor of Hong Kong refuse his bureaucrats’ requests to gather data on the economy, precisely because of this reason?

  40. Boambee John

    The “good” professor might like to check out the number of “intellectuals” and university educated Germans who supported the Nazis, starting with those who moved very promptly in 1933 to make their universities “Jew free”.

  41. Tim Neilson

    “…designed to empty the public purse.”
    Wrong. This guy is incompetent. The “public purse” is by nature empty. Successful tax avoidance just prevents what’s inherently empty from being filled (temporarily before the inevitable squandering occurs) with money that rightfully belongs to the people who earned it.
    Bruce of Newcastle – I fully agree (except that using “execrable” with “ABC” is a tautology).

  42. rickw

    Without tax revenues, no government can meet its human rights obligations. These include the citizens’ right to education, healthcare, housing, pension and security.

    Strange, I am paying for all those things myself. I appear to have no need for government.

  43. Mr Rusty

    Without tax revenues, no government can meet its human rights obligations. These include the citizens’ right to education, healthcare, housing, pension and security.

    *SIGH*
    When will we start teaching kids what “rights” actually are and not this neo-Comm bullshit definition of rights (which are actually priveleges).

  44. brc

    Move along there, nothing to see really, just same old, same old.
    Librarians against books, doctors against medicine, teachers against teaching anything useful, architects against building things (except tin sheds), lawyers against law, judges against justice, police against policing, journalists against reporting, and now accountants against accounting.

    Don’t forget water heaters that don’t produce hot water, washing machines that don’t wash, air conditioners that don’t cool, windmills that don’t mill and so on. Then there’s football games that nobody wins, competitions where everyone gets a prize, awards created by people to give to their friends, and so on.

  45. Blair

    ” the tendency of accounting to describe payments to society (tax) as a cost and hence a burden.”
    A cost is a reduction in an individual’s welfare; a benefit is an increase in an individual’s welfare.
    Government payments aren’t made to ‘society”; they are made to the individuals who comprise society and are a benefit to those recipients. Taxes paid to government aren’t paid by “society”; they are paid by individuals that comprise society and are a cost or burden to those individuals.

  46. Craig

    Lord A,
    Fuck me, i’ve never seen a 72 page CV, is this guy up himself or what?

  47. johanna

    Craig

    Really? 72 pages? As someone who has done a lot of recruiting, his application would have gone straight in the bin. (a) life is too short to read it and (b) anyone with such a huge ego and lack of awareness would not be welcome in my workplace.

    What a jerk.

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