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Archive for the ‘Pondering’ Category

Settled matters outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

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John Trumbull: The Declaration of Independence painted by John Trumbull. Photograph by Thomas Cizauskas is in the public domain (Public Domain Mark 1.0)

 

Several statements in the opening of the Declaration of Independence are settled matters. The issues are resolved. They are final.

If those key issues are not final but are instead malleable or alterable or subject to revocation the consequences will be horrible.

A speech by Pres. Calvin Coolidge explained this idea back in the 1920s. Let’s expand the concept of those ideas being resolved issues.

Please consider President Calvin Coolidge’s Speech on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 5, 1926.

He lists the three resolved issues:

“Three very definite propositions were set out in its (the Declaration of Independence) preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that

all men are created equal,

that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that

 therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.” (emphasis added)

He explained these issues are settled, resolved, final.

We can expand on those ideas. We need to bring them into further fruition. We can dive deeper into their meaning.

Setting them aside or replacing them means we go backwards. Declaring they are no longer true is regression to the ancient past.

More eloquently than I could ever describe, the president said:

“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”

Expanding those foundational concepts

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Written by Jim Ulvog

July 8, 2020, 8:39 am at 8:39 am

Posted in Other stuff, Pondering

It is even more important this year to remember that we are the land of the free because of the brave.

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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With our freedom under assault by many state and local politicians across the United States, it is more important than ever before that on this Memorial Day we remember those who shed all their blood so that we may be free.

A ‘thank you’ from me is so trivial.  I will demonstrate my appreciation for freedom purchased by others by exercising my freedom of speech today. Yesterday I exercised my freedom of religion. Today and tomorrow I will exercise my economic freedom, also called pursuit of happiness, by running my business the way I choose to do.

Following post was first published on May 29, 2017. It reprints an earlier post of May 30, 2011. I will update the discussion slightly. Deletions are struck through, new comments are in italics. This feeble tribute to those who have gone before will be posted across several of my blogs.

 

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

From May 29, 2017:

Those of us living in the United States are blessed with religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom because those who went before us fought for freedom.

Many of those fighting offered up their life for freedom and the offer was accepted.

I am humbled and grateful to God that some of my ancestors are included in the long list of those who fought. I am especially humbled that a great, great grand-uncle is in the list of those who died in the defense of freedom and the effort to crush slavery.

Because of their sacrifice, I get to enjoy this kind of freedom:

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Written by Jim Ulvog

May 25, 2020, 7:56 am at 7:56 am

Posted in Pondering

Economic destruction from lockdown continues to expand.

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There is severe danger that a growing number of businesses are going to look like this over the next few months. Abandoned Safeway store [01] by Ben Schumin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Going concern thoughts for accountants:  I have stopped cross posting all my comments on the pandemic to this blog. The focus here is accounting and attestation issues.

The following conversation is worth listing here, so you can bring into consideration what is going on in the broader economy as you ponder your client’s going concern assessments. The economic damage from the shutdown is an issue for audits, reviews, and comps.

You might pay particular attention to comments by  the Atlanta Fed on near-term GDP forecasts.

 

The damage from the lockdown is spreading. More news is emerging about the devastation that took place in just the first full month of the closure.

The damage will continue to grow the longer the shutdown continues. At some point it will start compounding, growing at a faster rate out of proportion to the time that is passing. Keeping the economy closed now is unnecessarily so the compounding damage is a choice.

Merely a few of the articles in recent days:

  • Guess on GDP shrinkage in next quarter
  • Disproportionate number of poorer households hit by job losses
  • Collapse of tax revenue in New York state
  • Collapse of home sales in Southern California
  • Another retail chain announce store closures and another announces liquidation

It is imperative to reopen the economy in full, not just for ‘curb-side delivery.’ If we don’t open soon, I fear the following articles will be mild in comparison to what we will see in the future.

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

5/16/20 – Fox Business – US GDP could sink over 40%: Atlanta Fed – Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is forecasting a 42.8% drop in GDP for the second quarter of  2020.

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Written by Jim Ulvog

May 22, 2020, 9:24 am at 9:24 am

California starts first few steps to start opening up the stalled economy.

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Economic doors will start to open on Friday – Opening or closing? by Paolo Gamba is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Friday of this week, 5/8, California will take the first baby steps to revive the state’s economy. Some retail stores will be able to provide curb-side delivery of products.

I don’t quite know how many people will order clothes online in order to pick them up at a store’s curb, but that is a first step.

At least half the value of a bookstore is browsing the shelves to see what book you really have to read right but that you previously didn’t even know existed.

Well, it’s a baby step.

Several articles describe the beginning here in the state. First article describes that government officials better start opening up quick or they will find the everyone already has done so.

5/1/20 – Forbes – Apple Data Shows Shelter-In-Place Is Ending, Whether Governments Want It To Or Not – Apple and Foursquare are tracking data that show people are getting out more.

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Written by Jim Ulvog

May 6, 2020, 21:54 pm at 9:54 pm

Posted in Economics, Pondering

The shutdown will be relaxed, one way or another.

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Time to use the other side of those signs. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If the politicians don’t start relaxing the lockdown and letting people pay their rapidly accumulating bills, bunches of people are going to take the initiative and do so on their own.

I sense there is a limited time for those in power to start loosening the extreme restrictions or people are going to start ignoring parts of the rules.

At a deeper level, the concern I have is what’s referred to as the “social contract.” Government gets its authority from consent of the governed.

If a large number of people get to the point of concluding the rules in places like California and Virginia are unnecessarily severe and are causing more health, mental, social, and economic damage than they prevent, people will conclude our leaders have broken the contract.

If we get to that point, respect for law and respect for public officials will decline. That is not a good place to go.

 

Next two articles point out a small number of people who have already reached that conclusion:

4/20/20 – Daily Wire – “Social Shredding”: Defiant Residents Grab Shovels, Dirt Bikes After Cali Authorities Dump Tons of Sand In Skateparks For ‘Social Distancing’ – Officials in San Clemente California noticed teenagers were committing the grave sin of skating in the city’s skate park. Well, that is patently unacceptable, so the city dumped 37 tons of sand into the skate park in an effort to shut down the skating. Since the park is at the beach, sand was readily available.

Well, the city officials did not take into consideration the incredible level of creativity present in humans, especially Americans.

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Written by Jim Ulvog

April 27, 2020, 10:35 am at 10:35 am

Posted in Economics, Pondering

Good news in some states for people who like to pay their rent and put food on the table. Bad news for California and Virginia.

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A deep freezer, used for keeping large volumes of meat and vegetables frozen. That’s where the economies of California and Virginia are going to be stored for a long time. Image (but not commentary) courtesy of Adobe Stock

Many states are starting to open up their economy.

Virginia may be closed down tight for up to 24 more months.

California may not open up until August.

August.

There will be incalculable medical, emotional, and financial damage in California and Virginia from the lockdown. More on that momentarily.

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

Good news

On the bright side, getting most attention for opening are:

  • Texas
  • Georgia

Other states are thawing because they also don’t want to bankrupt everyone, destroy all the hospitals, further tear down overall health levels, and permanently cripple their economy. List includes:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee

And then there is Virginia and California.

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Written by Jim Ulvog

April 25, 2020, 15:05 pm at 3:05 pm

Other damage from pandemic

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Tornado damage. Image courtesy of
Adobe Stock.

Warnings are surfacing about the damage from the stay-at-home orders.  There are mental health repercussions from isolation.  There are also negative health implications from rapidly dropping income and disappearing wealth, such as missed medical screening and delayed or skipped treatment.

4/9/20 – Wall Street Journal – Coronavirus Pandemic Takes Toll On Mental Health – Article describes how the forced isolation and disruptions are starting to cause distress in terms of mental health. There will be a severe Ripple effect from the stay-at-home orders and shutting down the economy.

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Written by Jim Ulvog

April 11, 2020, 8:13 am at 8:13 am

Posted in Other stuff, Pondering

Economic damage from pandemic is severe and will continue to be severe.

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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

We are starting to see some guesses about the economic damage from the shutdowns driven by the pandemic.

When you read about the 10 million people who have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks and consider there will be millions more and the unemployment will continue for another month or two, ponder the ripple effects.

That shock of unemployment translates into cars not purchased, summer & Christmas vacations not taken, conferences not attended, college enrollment delayed a year, fancy wedding receptions never planned, and house renovations postponed by a decade.

4/5/20 – Wall Street Journal – State Shutdowns Have Taken at Least a Quarter of U.S. Economy Offline – Study by Moody’s Analytics estimates that 29% of the U.S. economy has shut down. That is the estimated drop in output we have already seen.

Some of the staggeringly dangerous hits to U.S. output and wealth:

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Written by Jim Ulvog

April 8, 2020, 6:09 am at 6:09 am

Posted in Economics, Pondering

When will this mess from the pandemic be over? Focus on the idea that it will end, not what that date will be.

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We will prevail. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

When will we be done with this stay-at-home restriction?

When will the economy recover?

When will we be back to “normal?”

 

I don’t know the dates for any of those transitions.

I have a suggestion for you.

 

Don’t set a specific date in your mind. Instead firmly set in your mind that this mess will end, we will get through it, we will survive, and we will thrive at the end.

What is the danger of setting a date in your mind and having faith it will be over on that date?

Let me introduce you to the Stockdale paradox.

Admiral James Stockdale was an American pilot shot down during the Vietnam war. He was a prisoner in North Vietnam for 7 1/2 years, routinely subject to brutal torture, legs broken twice during interrogation, and held in solitary confinement during four of those years with his legs locked in a metal stock each night. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor a few years after his release.

I think we should listen to him. His physical courage and moral courage are a role model for all of us.

For one explanation of the phenomenon he described check out article titled The Stockdale Paradox.

 

Who did not come home from captivity?

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Written by Jim Ulvog

March 25, 2020, 11:36 am at 11:36 am

Posted in Pondering

Pondering impact of coronavirus prevention steps on financial statements. An auditor’s perspective.

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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you are an auditor getting ready to issue opinions on client financial statements, you might want to ponder the subsequent event implications of the U.S. shutting down large portions of the economy this week. Might want to take a closer look at going concern assumptions.

If you happened to have slept well last night, you might ponder the impact on the financial statements you released a couple weeks ago.

Subsequent events

Here are some initial thoughts for consideration as disclosable material subsequent events and perhaps contingent liabilities:

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Written by Jim Ulvog

March 14, 2020, 9:26 am at 9:26 am

Comments from recent continuing education classes worth repeating: “get in or get out”

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If you are an auditor and that is a diagram of new audit rules, then you need to completely understand the graph. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are some fun or interesting or useful tidbits from the October 2018 A&A and the June 2019 Not-for-profit conferences presented by California Society of CPAs.

Previous posts had comments on accounting and auditing as well as peer review.

“Get in or get out”

The second speaker who discussed peer review in previous post also said that if you are doing A&A work you need to “get in or get out.”

Let me translate that…

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Written by Jim Ulvog

July 1, 2019, 6:31 am at 6:31 am

Comments from recent continuing education classes worth repeating: accounting and auditing

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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

To get ready for a writing project this summer, I’ve been going over my notes from some CPE conferences and classes.

Thought I’d share some of the fun or interesting or useful tidbits from the October 2018 A&A and the June 2019 Not-for-profit conferences presented by California Society of CPAs.

Auditing

The auditor’s report will be completely reworked with implementation first required for 12/31/20 reports. The statement has been issued. Check out SAS-134, Auditor Reporting and Amendments, Including Amendments Addressing Disclosures in the Audit of Financial Statements if  you want to get a head start on the overhaul to audit rules.

By the way, an omnibus standard, SAS 135, makes lots of little changes you need to know about.

An exposure draft is out which addresses audit evidence. Final document expected in late 2019.

Accounting

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Written by Jim Ulvog

June 27, 2019, 6:58 am at 6:58 am

Memorial Day: gratitude for those who did not return

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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

 

To family and friends of those who did not return, I humbly say:

My deepest condolences on your loss.

From someone who appreciates the price paid for the freedom I cherish everyday, please accept my thank you on behalf of your loved one who paid the price that my family and I can live free.

“Thank you” is so little, but it is all I have to give you.

 

 

“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God” Tomb of Unknown Soldier 002 – Arlington National Cemetery – 2012 by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. Photo by James Ulvog.

Written by Jim Ulvog

May 27, 2019, 9:28 am at 9:28 am

Posted in Pondering

Tips on how to apologize

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Sorry by HypnoArt is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Let’s face it, we all goof up sometimes whether by insulting a client, dropping the ball on a project, or the good ol’ engage mouth before engaging brain routine.

To repair the damage, especially in the work environment, an apology is needed.

The Journal of Accountancy on 9/25/17 offered some great suggestions on How to make a professional apology.

Here are a few of the multiple tips suggested.

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Written by Jim Ulvog

October 2, 2017, 7:58 am at 7:58 am

Posted in Other stuff, Pondering

The story on Silk Road, an on-line drug bazaar, shows the power of rationalization and self-deception

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Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

The sad tale of Ross Ulbricht and his on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road is a good study of the outer limits of how far rationalization can carry a person.

It is also a frightening illustration of Jeremiah 17:9. From the New International Version, ponder:

The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Considering the tale of Silk Road is useful for accountants wanting to learn about the outer fringe of the internet and he investigative power of the federal government, believers who would like an illustration of the frightening level of deceit that lives in the human heart, and anyone else wanting to learn more about the dark worlds that normal people will never see.

My posts are gathered into two collections on my other blog, Outrun Change:

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Written by Jim Ulvog

September 26, 2017, 16:22 pm at 4:22 pm

Posted in Other stuff, Pondering

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