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Accounting News Roundup: Social Media Envy and Stealing from THE CHILDREN | 08.25.16

What's the AICPA up to?

Now that the CIMA merger is in the bag, the AICPA has moved on to other important things like shaking their collective heads at our social media activity:

A new survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), found that Americans are caught in a cycle of feeling envious of friends who boast on social media of lavish vacations and purchases, while admitting that they also post things solely because they seem fancy and expensive.

This, naturally, causes people to try to "Keep up with the Digital Joneses" and now let's turn to Greg Anton for a fatherly warning:

“Social media has vastly expanded the number of ‘neighbors’ people are trying to keep up with. That can lead to a feeling of financial inadequacy and a desire to spend money you may not have,” said Gregory Anton, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Some people are purposefully curating a more glamorous image on social media and, unfortunately, it can have a negative financial impact on their friends and followers who feel compelled to keep up with them.”

However, my favorite line in this press release is one:

One in four U.S. adults with a social media account (25 percent) were left feeling envious after seeing someone posting about a purchase or vacation on social media in the past year, which is likely not why they created their account.

Of course feeling jealous is not the reason they created their account. They created their account to share unsolicited, unwanted political opinions based on unreliable sources. Social media envy is just one of those unintended consequences.

But let's go back to Mr. Anton for more fatherly advice:

“People, in particular those just beginning their careers, would be better served spending their money maxing out their 401(k) and paying down debt instead of trying to one-up their friends on social media,” added Anton. “While smart financial moves may not get the most likes or retweets, building a solid financial foundation should take priority over building a social media following.”

This press release makes me want to leave for a lavish vacation right this second and post all the pictures on the AICPA's Facebook page. 

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! But Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says he should "open up your kimono and show everything" and yes, he's talking about tax returns, but don't use that figure of speech, pal. No one wants to visualize Donald Trump opening his kimono.

Oh, and Eric Trump is obviously not in favor of his dad releasing the tax returns:

“You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on things they know nothing about,” Mr. Trump said on CNBC. “It would be foolish to do. I’m actually the biggest proponent of not doing it.”

It's amusing when someone named Trump is worried about the ignorance of other people.

Accountants behaving badly

If there's anything we've learned about accountants that steal from their employers, it's that they do not discriminate when it comes to the victims. No one is off limits — veterans, cancer patients, shelter pets, loser baseball teams, veterans with cancer who have a shelter pet and support a loser baseball team — criminals don't think about their victims. That's part of why they're criminals — the ability to detach themselves and the inability to empathize.

Which is why this story of a CFO stealing $600k from a school district in Texas isn't surprising. The superintendent's disbelief that someone could do this to THE CHILDREN is a little bewildering, however:

"That someone serving in a position of authority of an organization whose job is to educate and nurture the children of our community would violate that sacred trust is unconscionable," Superintendent Hull said. "We will work with authorities to retrieve every penny that was allegedly stolen, and we will work to make sure that such a despicable act will never happen again."

It's quite the opposite, I'd say. Stealing from children makes the most sense; what do kids know about internal controls or risk assessment? It'd be like taking candy…oh never mind.

One other thing, and maybe I've said this before, but, when someone says that they "will work to make sure that something like this will never happen again," it's almost certain to happen again.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Jim Peterson wrapped up his series looking at Martin Ford's The Rise of Robots. For something on the lighter side, Greg Kyte brought us another editorial cartoon.

In other news:

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