Dear Nation Reader,
If you feel cheated because the old, scaly serpent gave Eve the good stuff from the Tree of Knowledge and left you to fend for yourself, take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer of vital information heretofore known only to those in league with the devil. One of the infernal minions has compiled a unique dictionary that includes simple, clear definitions of fuzzy, complicated business terms, who is and who was important in business, the formula for turning lead into gold and how business got started and how come it runs your life.
–Nicholas von Hoffman
Without accounting there would be no business. In its various manifestations, and there are many of them, it not only displays the condition a business is in but is indispensable in managing every enterprise of any size and complexity. In the seventeenth century, this included itemizing the locks, the chains and the irons used to make the jails holding the Salem Witchcraft prisoners “witch tight.” Accounting records of the same period, or “books of accompts,” were sometimes balanced in wampum, legal tender in certain parts of North America until somebody set up a wampum factory, which, of course, brought on a wampum inflation. This led to the beads being outlawed in 1800 and replaced by dollars, which have been more or less OK except whenever the government sets up its dollar factory and wampum begins to look good again.
Over the centuries accounting has picked up a reputation as a less than a laugh-a-minute occupation. In the early years of the twenty-first century, accounting got unfunnier still when it came out that outside auditors or accountants had colluded with their corporate customers to lure the innocent into buying vastly overpriced stock. Other than destroying the future happiness and the present comfort of about 50 million people, little damage was done. Even with its nil entertainment rating, accounting is the single most important business activity.
A prolonged period characterized by the thunder of ungulate hooves and happy hoards of human Morris dancers in the nation’s stock exchanges. Bull market periods are thought to be accompanied by a rise in the consumption of costly French wines and a drop in sexual harassment cases.
Money, moola, do-re-me, lettuce, spondulicks, coin, dough, bread, skins, groat, long green, shekel, smackeroo, pelf, buck, cowrie-shell, the root of all evil, viaticum, specie, big ones, farthing, scratch, fish, cabbage, talent, lucre, assignat, boodle, ducat, somoleon, currency, dinero, what makes the world go ’round, gelt, jack, smacker, store of value and medium of exchange, wampum. If the number of words for the same object is indicative of its importance to a society, draw your own conclusions.
A person in the employ of a large corporation whose job it is to tell the CEO right from wrong. And how does an ethicist know right from wrong? The person has a PhD from a name-brand institution, ears sensitive enough to hear when God whispers or a stout paycheck.