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November 29, 2022

Outrage? Against Whom?!

pitchfork.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
Don’t Mess With Taxes had an interesting piece over the weekend on populist rage – you know, angry mobs with pitchforks ready to come after the first Goldman rat who even whispers the word bonus – and some interesting numbers to chew on, specifically when it comes to taxing the rich:

The top income tax rate of 35 percent is the lowest it’s been since 1992. For a good chunk of the 20th century, the wealthiest U.S. taxpayers handed over much more (90-plus percent from 1950 to 1963) to Uncle Sam.
Capital gains rates also are at historic lows. And richer folks tend to take advantage of capital gains (and losses) more often than the general populace since wealthier individuals usually are more active investors.

DMWT’s column was inspired by an NYT piece entitled All This Anger Against the Rich May Be Unhealthy in which the rich bemoan their tricky fate:

For the wealthy, their public image is a secondary concern since so many of them seek to live anonymously.
“They feel mischaracterized,” Mr. LaMothe said. “They know the time and effort they contribute. They fund scholarships and all the things they do routinely, and then to be characterized as not doing their fair share begins to wear on them.”
From the outside, the wealthy seem to be one big money-minting group. But how they came upon their wealth differs greatly. And those who did not make their fortunes in finance seem just as angry as everyone else about what Wall Street has wrought.

NYT’s got a good point. Outrage against Wall Street is one thing but what’s this blanket sentiment of anger towards rich people in general?
A recent Bain and Co. report projects a 8% drop in luxury good purchases (or about $227 billion) for 2009 with a “full” recovery in the luxury sector by 2011. Were it not for “populist outrage” against the wealthy, perhaps we’d see slightly more growth in this area moving forward but the wealthy have – wisely – trimmed down conspicuous purchases, presumably to keep the angry mob off their backs.
Worse, once Geithner and Co. wise up and realize how low tax revenues from the wealthy have been in recent years, it will be like a brand new financial vein to tap with or without much-needed tax reform.
Looks like a pretty convenient time to be broke, eh?

pitchfork.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
Don’t Mess With Taxes had an interesting piece over the weekend on populist rage – you know, angry mobs with pitchforks ready to come after the first Goldman rat who even whispers the word bonus – and some interesting numbers to chew on, specifically when it comes to taxing the rich:

The top income tax rate of 35 percent is the lowest it’s been since 1992. For a good chunk of the 20th century, the wealthiest U.S. taxpayers handed over much more (90-plus percent from 1950 to 1963) to Uncle Sam.
Capital gains rates also are at historic lows. And richer folks tend to take advantage of capital gains (and losses) more often than the general populace since wealthier individuals usually are more active investors.

DMWT’s column was inspired by an NYT piece entitled All This Anger Against the Rich May Be Unhealthy in which the rich bemoan their tricky fate:

For the wealthy, their public image is a secondary concern since so many of them seek to live anonymously.
“They feel mischaracterized,” Mr. LaMothe said. “They know the time and effort they contribute. They fund scholarships and all the things they do routinely, and then to be characterized as not doing their fair share begins to wear on them.”
From the outside, the wealthy seem to be one big money-minting group. But how they came upon their wealth differs greatly. And those who did not make their fortunes in finance seem just as angry as everyone else about what Wall Street has wrought.

NYT’s got a good point. Outrage against Wall Street is one thing but what’s this blanket sentiment of anger towards rich people in general?
A recent Bain and Co. report projects a 8% drop in luxury good purchases (or about $227 billion) for 2009 with a “full” recovery in the luxury sector by 2011. Were it not for “populist outrage” against the wealthy, perhaps we’d see slightly more growth in this area moving forward but the wealthy have – wisely – trimmed down conspicuous purchases, presumably to keep the angry mob off their backs.
Worse, once Geithner and Co. wise up and realize how low tax revenues from the wealthy have been in recent years, it will be like a brand new financial vein to tap with or without much-needed tax reform.
Looks like a pretty convenient time to be broke, eh?

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Are Today’s Accountants Already Occupying Wall Street?

Caleb and I had a talk last night and it made me think about this whole Occupy Wall Street thing. More importantly, it made me think about what I am and am not doing to support it. I haven’t been to a rally, even to take pictures (last time I tried to do that, I was the only one out in front of the Federal Reserve Board at 6 in the morning except for the lone Fed cop patrolling the perimeter).

I get that people are pissed off. I’m pissed off too. I’ve been pissed off, don’t tell me about being pissed off. I was lugging around aFed sign made on top of “Ron Paul ’08” acrylic three years ago, you don’t have to tell me about being pissed off. (Here I am in 2009 on SF Citizen in a “Bernanke 00%” t-shirt at an anti-Iraq war rally)

And I get that for some people, all there is to do is go downtown with a drum and some poorly-written signs on cardboard ripped from your mom’s Costco packages in the recycle bin. That’s totally fine, everyone has their own way of sticking it to the man.

For a lot of Going Concern readers, sticking it to the man means showing up every day in business casual pretending to give a fuck about COSO but actually knowing that it’s all a lie. They work you to the bone until you leave or submit and get promoted to manager. Partner if you’re lucky. Run on that hamster wheel, here have this bonus, keep going and one day you can beat your own subordinates into submission. Go, go, go… Many of you get that this is bullshit but keep showing up every day anyway, and to me, you are your own special kind of protester. Same as last year, motherfucker, it’s the ultimate form of rebellion.

Too much?


Point being, everyone has their own way of screwing the establishment. Francine does it railing against the Big 4. Bill Sheridan and Tom Hood do it at the MACPA with professionalism. Tom Selling does it by riling up fellow academics. Professor Dave Albrecht does it by being seen in public canoodling with known incendiaries like yours truly.

I do it by ripping on the IASB as often as I am allowed to, infiltrating the Hill to sniff out what’s the latest in CPA lobbying efforts and getting in as many F bombs as I can on the dry subject of accounting. That’s all I can do. I can’t abandon my day job to hang out in Manhattan eating vegan paninis. I can make and distribute offensive Bernanke fridge magnets.

I completely understand why people are attracted to Occupy Wall Street; the part I’m struggling with is why so many of the 99 Percenters seem obsessed with this thing called “fairness” that does not, in fact, exist. Is it fair that any of us have to drag our asses to work every day and do what we do? Is it fair that Becker costs $3,000 and doesn’t pass the CPA exam for you? Is it fair that many of you are drowning in student loan debt and seemingly forced to get Master’s degrees just to work in your field? Is it fair that Caleb gets listed in all the accounting publications and I’m stuck as the sidekick hack who always manages to piss people off? This world is unfair, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I have to write about accounting every day of my life, it’s un-fucking-fair, we get it.

In my view (for whatever that is worth, which is probably not more than our company pays me to write this post), the ultimate rebellion is assimilating and infiltrating the establishment to enact real change from the inside. Are partners scared as shit of this website? Yes. If they’re threatening you with termination if you even dare to write us for advice, we’re doing something right. And I didn’t even have to not shave my armpits to accomplish that (but Caleb probably shaved his).

Are any of you going to independently revolutionize the accounting industry? Probably not. But collectively, you have scared the pants off of lazy ass recruiters and partners across this country who thought you didn’t have it in you. They read us because they feel like they have to or else they’ll lose touch with what you guys are thinking, and it scares the living shit out of them. In my mind, that’s a far more effective message to send the The Establishment, whoever the hell they are.

I fully support the fundamental sentiment of Occupy Wall Street but much prefer fulfilling my incendiary duties here trying to get accounting kids riled up and questioning why they put up with the shit they do. Working mothers in public accounting should be allowed to have children. Interns should be allowed to ask questions (even dumb ones). Auditors should be expected to question last year’s logic. It’s not complicated but it’s important work that a lot of you do, and I hope that you get that.

It is not your fault that we’re here. Many of you just followed the rules.

Thanks for letting me be a part of that. Beats standing around with a fucking sign, that’s for sure.

Earlier:
Wanted: Accountants for Large Protest; Organizational Skills and Experience with Anything Slightly Resembling a Expense Reimbursement Policy a Plus [GC]