Friday, September 26, 2008

A Long time Ago

A long time ago, Sr. Margaret Loyola Scanlon, S. L., my beloved principal at Holy Family High School in North Denver once said to me:

“Dennis, we all have to operate in an atmosphere of Internal Control. Even our church bingo has two sets of hands and eye’s counting and reviewing the money, and someone else makes the deposit. We even assign two students to count the proceeds for tickets sold at the Senior Prom. Internal Control is the key to good economics.” Every time I hear the words “lack of internal control,” and we hear those words a lot in our audits of Denver’s agencies, I think of Sr. Margaret Loyola and her wise words. If she is ever canonized, she will be the patron of Auditors and Internal Control.

While the legislation changes moment by moment, perhaps the most egregious weakness of the proposed $700 Billion bailout of Wall Street proposed by the Bush administration is a total lack of internal control. That the administration has asked Congress to hurry up and hand over $700 Billion to one individual, with no other set of hands and eyes to be accountable for the distribution of those dollars is the total and unconscionable lack of internal control. Sr. Margaret would be furious.

Forty four years ago Robert Kennedy told us in The Pursuit of Justice, “The problem of power is not to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use—of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.” If Congress rushes to give unbridled power to one individual the nation will mirror what Edmund Burke warned five years before our Declaration of Independence, “the greater the power, the greater the abuse.” And the powerful will continue to abuse our patience.

The folks that got us in this mess and now want the bailout should have heard what else Sr. Margaret Loyola shared with me about internal control. “Dennis, I will not always be around to make sure you practice proper personal and financial internal control. But, remember, Dennis, God is always watching and knows whether you are exercising internal control.”

In this time of trial will we be able to find those who live for the public rather than off the public?

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