Friday is July 4th also known as ‘Independence Day’. Like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, July 4th is also a day of remembrance which inspires us to look back at our founding fathers and what they did to help build this nation into what it is today.
When I was a young Army wife my new husband and I were posted overseas to Ethiopia. Obviously, I was hoping for an assignment somewhere in Europe so we could travel the continent. Living in Asmara, Ethiopia was quite an experience and a story for another day. I had always appreciated and valued being an American. My father fought in World War II. My grandparents were immigrants that had fled persecution at the turn of the 20th century. I knew how important it was to be an American. Arriving back in America after a year and a half was the happiest day of my life. I had learned even more during that time what a privilege it was to call America home.
Let’s be honest, there are too many countries in the world today locking their people in. We are challenged by how to handle all the people that want to come to America, not leave it. That says a great deal about our democracy.
Against the backdrop of America is how we have always been the greatest nation on earth. Not only because we have fed ourselves and a large part of the world. Not only because our constitution has become the guiding light under which we operate, but because we are a nation of laws. For the most part, we are a law abiding country. However, the underlying need for compliance with our laws still permeates every level of our society. Financial reporting has taken some blows in the last few years. Passage of Sarbanes-Oxley has attempted to curtail executives from falsifying the financial performance of their companies. Now the CEO and CFO must sign and certify the financial statements of publicly held companies.
As accountants, we have an ethical duty to perform our responsibilities within the laws of our nation, and of standard setting bodies which govern our activities.
But I also know that many of you are put under great pressure to stray from the ethical standards to which you should adhere. This can be a problem for many. My advice to you…………..be sure that you know what the moral and ethical standards of your company are or for the company who is proposing to hire you. Knowing this up front will probably help you avoid those sticky situations you are sometimes confronted with. Remember, some of the biggest fraud cases like World Com and others ended with the controller going to jail as well as other top executives. I can tell you that these things don’t happen overnight. It is not one big violation they are asking for at first, it is the little ones that maybe stretch the line but don’t cross it until one day, it is a short step over the line.
I believe that our founders were honest men who cherished freedom and democracy. That comes with a price. We should all be doing whatever we can to make sure we support the laws of our country and our licenses, if you have one. After all, that is a very small price to pay for us on the home front.
Have a very happy and safe July 4th…….see you next week.