A buddy of mine who is an accountant at a construction firm in town told me Friday he was on his way to an ethics course. Ethics? Yes, ever since the Enron debaucle, accountants have been encouraged to take ethics courses to bring them up-to-date on the latest developments in ethicology (new word, Chris?), such as being truthful with the numbers that are published about a company's finances.
Now my buddy is an ethical person, so presumably he was painted with the broad brush and encouraged to take this course so his company can add him to the numbes of neo-ethical accountants.
I couldn't help picture the lecture situation faced by a professor trying to teach ethics to accountants.
- Accountant A:
- Excuse me professor, but are you saying that we should not lie about our company's revenue in published reports?
- Yes, generally speaking, the truth is preferred
- Accountant B:
- Doesn't your stance on this issue place you at odds with the creationist view of spreadsheets? Are you saying that spreadhseets actually evolve from what we buy and sell?
- Right, while there is room for creationist theories, the reports you publish should evolve from the goods actually present in your warehouses and the sales you actually consumate.
- Accountant C:
- Do gravitational forces imply audible responses when applied to vegitation in unpopulated forests?
- Excuse me, what was that?
- Accountant D:
- What my brother from Washington University was asking is, does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if nobody can hear it?
- And the relevance of that question is ....
- All accountants:
- DOES IT COUNT IF WE DON'T GET CAUGHT?
- Ah, well the presumption of my lecture is that doing the right thing is of ultimate importance, even if you don't think anybody is looking; after all, you must be able to sleep peacefully at night and to keep your self-respect.
- Accountant E:
- Is this going to be on the exam?