I love accountants. They make sense of our world in ways no one else can. They insist on balance and symmetry. Accountants operate not on some abstract worldview but on numbers that are supposed to add up.
Since I’ve been married to an accountant for 31 years, I know a little about the breed. Most are conservative in their decisionmaking and painfully attentive to detail. They say “no” a lot when the question involves spending. And they can smell a bullshit idea even before you present it. You can trust them — at least most of them.
Smart folks listen to accountants. Most U.S. politicians do not. So maybe it’s time we elected one president — one like David Walker.
It broke my heart to learn that David Walker, the U.S. government’s top accountant and auditor, had decided to call it quits. And yeah, I didn’t know who he was either, so don’t feel bad.
I just assumed that some crazed madman had been keeping the ledger of the federal government for the past 8 years. And I assumed he was a numbers-challenged crony of George W. Bush who found himself unemployed after the Enron collapse.
I was wrong on both counts.
David Walker, the U.S. comptroller general for the past 10 years, is a Clinton appointee who took the job back when budgets actually were balanced and the biggest issue in American politics involved a blue dress and some cigars.
Walker’s appointment runs through 2013, but he’s had enough. This is from Loren Steffy in the Houston Chronicle:
Walker’s hallmark has been fiscal responsibility. He’s been warning lawmakers for years about America’s looming financial crisis, about the need to rein in our ballooning deficits, soaring health-care costs and bloated tax system.
He’s been as well received as a nanny at a fraternity party.
Walker is leaving government service to direct the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which is bankrolled by the prominent investor and former U.S. treasury secretary. Peterson has pledged $1 billion to the foundation that will promote “responsible fiscal policy and public education.”
This is where PR professionals come in. At the Peterson Foundation, we’ll join hands with our brothers and sisters in accounting and to carry forth the message that 1 + 1 still equals 2 — even though not a damn thing in Washington appears to add up these days. PR pros working for David Walker will help persuade American voters and ranking influentials that our nation is in a deep, deep hole — a hole that will not correct itself regardless of whether “the rising tide lifts all boats.”
Maybe in 2012 we could persuade Walker to run for president — but that’ll never happen. He’s way too smart.
I wish David Walker well, and I salute Pete Peterson for standing up against our nation’s financial sanity. I’m also happy for public relations, as it will take half an army of professional communicators to carry this message forward. And who knows, maybe someone will listen this time.
I was thinking about donating my $600 “economic stimulus” money to the Peterson Foundation. But my accountant wife is sure to insist that we invest it in something tangible — or maybe sock it away in the savings.
Like I said, I love accountants. But they’re such killjoys. Maybe that’s what we need in the White House right now: someone who can say “no.”