Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Prep Work for Our Future

“There’s no accountability without accounting”. This remark is a comment on a specific situation in a specific country but it's a phrase with broad applications. (Source)

It seems to me that behind all the anti-capitalist rhetoric, what lurks is a knee-jerk aversion to accounting. The revolution thinks it's below its dignity to work through such grubby concerns as, y'know, whether its economic initiatives cost more than their product is worth.

"Capitalist values!" they'll scream. "The bourgeois fixation with profit!"

These people are revolted by the very thought that a cost and benefit calculus can ever be a basis for action. But, when you think about it, what is profit if not an accounting expression of what happens when the things you produce are worth more than the things you use to produce them with?

What can you expect from people who lionize the principle of indifference to profits other than unchecked waste?

Discipline undoubtedly gets in the way of a good time and there is probably a case to be made that non-profit systems inherently decay into inefficiency. I suppose a corollary is that undisciplined spending can still produce functional results for long periods of time. I suppose a house of cards is stable in stable surroundings.