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Governmental Waste No one but a eulogist would ever describe the American as a frugal soul. The things we do we usually do with enthusiasm and abandon. We spend like drunken sailors and we save at times with a savage intensity, but we are not frugal as a nation, and most of us are wasteful as individuals.
But the most lavish of us must regard with a feeling of amazement the "thrift" campaign which is being waged by the United States government in an effort to induce the people of the country to conserve resources. Perhaps the office of this magazine is exceptionally favored by the government, but if not and if the inundation of so-called "thrift" literature is felt equally by other offices, it seems to be time to say to some one in Washington, “Physician, heal thyself.” The reckless waste of stationery, clerical labor, mail service and what not indicated by the mass of paper which finds its way almost daily to the waste baskets in this office is enough to disgust anyone who stops long enough to consider the matter.
We have said that the matter is cause for amazement, but that assertion is not strictly accurate. It might be better to say that the extravagance of the government in this one department would amaze anyone not acquainted with the way things are done and not done throughout the entire range of governmental agencies.
For the past few years especially the value of the dollareven the shrunken value of the dollar in trade-has been lost to sight in Washington and the departments have scattered broadcast with never a thought of the harvest. What is being done by the "thrift" advocates is only a symptom of a prevalent disease. It is noticeable chiefly because it persists after some of the other symptoms are abating under the treatment of public condemnation.
These things are of vital interest to every citizen who is a recipient of income however small. They are of peculiar interest in the days which intervene between today and March 15th when the majority of taxpayers will make returns. Direct taxation has its faults-some of us are more impressed by its faults than its merits--but this at least may be said of it: it brings home to the taxpayer as nothing else can do the importance of watching the national expenditure.
This year and for many years to come the American people will be called to bear a share of the expense incurred by reckless and worse public officers during the war and in the piping times of our almost peace. In all human probability the time will not soon come when official waste shall be unknown. We cannot expect perfection this side the millenium. Always there will be a portion of our tax burden imposed because of incompetence or wilful wrong-doing. But the recent orgy surpasses reason and its end should be hastened in every possible way—even in such comparatively insignificant trifles as the "thrift” campaign.
By the way, it would be of interest to learn something of the actual expense incurred in this campaign and of the results achieved. Some folk will tell us that it is difficult to trace the effects of an advertising effort, and therefore the results of the "thrift” movement must ever remain veiled. Suppose we admit so much for the sake of harmony. Suppose we admit that the effort may have achieved something worth while—we don't really admit that, however. What is needed now is a definite cessation of waste- let the past be what it may.
Saving by Sound Accounting The Chartered Accountant Students' Society of London had as its guests at a recent annual dinner several prominent men of affairs. There was, of course, all the customary laudation of the society and the people represented in its membership. No professional or trade banquet in any part of the world can quite escape the manner of the pharisee's prayer. But making due allowance for pride of self, society and profession, there were some things said which should be remembered. For example, Walter Runciman, formerly the secretary of the board of trade -a position which is as though the duties of the secretaries of commerce, labor, agriculture and the interior were rolled in onereplying to a toast, said that the representatives of the other learned professions had profound respect for chartered accountants. Their services to the government departments had saved the country scores of millions of pounds. Translating that sum into dollars we find that accountants saved the British government hundreds of millions during the war.
The application of the statement is obvious. What was done in England should have been done here. Of course, it is well known that accountants here did save enormous sums for the government. The amount is not to be estimated with any assurance of an approach to accuracy. But what was saved is as nothing to what might have been saved if competent men had been permitted to advise and if their advice had been accepted.
Speaking entirely aside from the party affiliations of anyone associated with this magazine, we doubt if one of our readers has failed to feel a little thrill of hope that the new year will bring about a departure from some of the wastefulness of the war and subsequent years. A change in administration generally leads to a housecleaning Therefore, it may be that some of the things which most afflict us economically will have their ending ere long.
What the accountant or other skilled advisor might have saved the country in the past is not now the question. What we ask is that all the ability and all the knowledge available be utilized in the days to come. They will be needed.
American Institute of Accountants
REGIONAL MEETING, CHICAGO, NOVEMBER 19, 1920 A regional meeting of the American Institute of Accountants was held at the Congress hotel, Chicago, Friday, November 19, 1920.
The following officers were elected to serve during the meeting :
Chairman, Edward E. Gore, Chicago; secretary, C. R. Whitworth, Chicago.
About three hundred accountants were in attendance, of whom app oximately fifty per cent were members of the institute.
The states represented were Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
An invitation to hold the next meeting in Detroit was extended by F. A. Tilton.
The invitation was unanimously accepted.
It was resolved that the next meeting should be held April 8, 1921, the Friday immediately preceding the semi-annual meeting of the council of the institute.
The chairman introduced Carl H. Nau, president of the American Institute of Accountants who suggested the appointment of an organization committee.
Upon motion it was resolved that such a committee be appointed by the chair. The chair appointed the following:
Chairman, Herbert M. Temple, St. Paul; Carl H. Nau, Cleveland; F. A. Tilton, Detroit; A. H. Hammarstrom, Clinton, Iowa; Charles G. Harris, Louisville.
It was announced that the accountants from outside Chicago were invited to be the guests of the Chicago accountants at luncheon.
A paper was presented by F. A. Tilton on the subject Treatment in Accounts of Losses Arising Through Fluctuations of Inventory Value.
Discussion was opened by H. A. Finney.
Upon resumption of business at 2 o'clock the following resolutions which had been prepared by the committee on organization were unanimously adopted :
Resolved, that for the purpose of regional meetings, the chairman of each meeting shall appoint the chairman for the local committee of arrangements for the succeeding meeting.
The chairman so selected shall appoint a local committee of not less than five nor more than nine members, whose sole duty shall be that of preparing for the next regional meeting; and
Be it further resolved, that the chairman of the regional meeting shall appoint a member of the institute in each state to confer as an advisory
board, whose duty it shall be to co-operate with the local committee in securing interest in and attendance at the meeting.
Carl H. Nau delivered an address entitled The American Institute of Accountants.
President Nau was followed by A. P. Richardson, secretary of the American Institute, who invited all eligible accountants to file application for admission to the institute and explained the method of examination and election.
W. P. Hilton, a vice-president of the institute, spoke briefly on the advantages of membership in the institute and the desirability of observing the highest ethical standards.
J. D. M. Crockett of Kansas City addressed the meeting on the subject Should Legislation be Enacted, granting to Professional Accountants "Personal Privilege" in respect to their Dealings with their Clients?
The address was followed by discussion led by F. A. Ross of Chicago.
Upon motion it was resolved that the meeting suggest to the American Institute of Accountants, in case an action should arise on the question of privileged communications in regard to an accountant, that the case should be supported by the institute and carried to the courts in order to obtain a decision.
It was resolved that the resolution be transmitted to the secretary of the institute.
D. Himmelblau of Chicago addressed the meeting on the subject Undisclosed Liabilities.
The address was followed by discussion led by Roy Hall of Chicago.
H. M. Temple addressed the meeting on the subject What Action should be taken by the Profession in relation to the Future Federal Revenue Laws?
Discussion was opened by R. J. Beaman of Cincinnati.
It was resolved that the meeting recommend to the institute the creation of a committee with the definite duty of considering new legislation relative to taxation.
A general discussion followed on the subject of income-tax returns.
The chair announced the following appointments to the regional committee: Illinois.
George W. Rossetter
George W. Buist
A. H. Hammarstrom
.James S. Escott
..F. A. Tilton
Herbert M. Temple
.J. D. M. Crockett
R. J. Beaman
.C. I. Smith