Friday, 1 April 2011

Complacency, Auditors and the Road to Tripoli

A government report published in London (51 degrees North, 0 degrees East) castigated the auditors who audited the city's banks in advance of the recession with 'complacency'. That people charged with scrupulously investigating and analysing best accountancy practice in major financial institutions were 'complacent' is alarming. It conjures up images of men dressed in blue suits with train-track wide pin-stripes, shirts striped and coloured as a barber's awning and ties so silken smooth meringues  slide harmlessly off them, lazing on great sofas in louche and fey manners while laptops lie unattended all around, blinking their cosmic screen-savers at no one in particular.
That the auditors were complacent is alarming, but hardly surprising. What is surprising is that the report didn't castigate the auditors for being 'collusive' or 'corrosive' or even 'negligent'. Four behemoth accountancy companies do the bulk of this bank auditing work and being complacent is obviously a necessary pre-requisite for getting the contracts. You wouldn't want to be too rigorous, lively or attentive when exploring beneath the dirty sheets of people who are your friends, former colleagues, drinking buddies, dinner party guests, siblings, partners, spouses and former school mates. You don't want to flaunt regulations, but you don't want to be too stringent or strident. Or even thorough. 'Complacency' is the right tone to strike. Leave well enough alone, because when the bust comes the auditors and their allies will ride it out. Complacently. As they are doing now. In London and even more alarmingly, in Dublin (53 degrees North, 6 degrees East), where baling out banks has become the national raison d'être. The Republic of Ireland, it's sovereignty, it's land, people, productive output, tax revenue and future exist to pour money down the cesspit of failed financial businesses, while cowering before larger European financial institutions, in particular German banks. Seventy billion euros is the figure calculated. So many hospitals, schools, arts centres, playgrounds, factories, farm businesses, swimming and leisure centres, cancer services, train services, jobs, music. So much country. The numbers are mind-boggling. The consequences are devastating. The people of Ireland are reeling and punch-drunk.
As are the people of Derry (54 degrees North, 7 degrees East), enduring the second bomb incident in a week near the courthouse. The last one led to the forced evacuation of a residential home for the old and infirm. A nearby hotel took some of them in. Others went to family and friends. Images in the press show care workers in the middle of the street pushing wheel-chair bound senior citizens huddled under blankets. The people who placed today's suspect device, viable or otherwise, assert that this action will unite the partitioned parts of Ireland. The people, including the local MP, evacuated from the courts, houses, offices, businesses, shops, building sites and residences in the area are not convinced. 
Neither are the Western powers, centred on London, when faced with the arrival of defectors and emissaries from Libya. Neither convinced nor convincing. This new shuttle diplomacy, as the military actions in Libya grind to a standstill along the coastal road to Tripoli (20 degrees North, 0 degrees East), adds to the hypocrisy of the whole Western powers' action.   
Complacency never suffices. Neither does corrosive collusion.
"We'll sell both lots of you the weapons you need to kill each other. And – look away now – our companies will just keep on taking the old black gold.”

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