Home » Accounting » Accounting for the West Explosion

Accounting for the West Explosion

Time to pull out a posting from two years ago — nothing changes sometimes. In that old posting, I tell how I used to rant to my accounting students about the stupidity of government accounting, which fails to distinguish spending on today versus spending on tomorrow. We call the latter investing and it is what we do to make tomorrow possible. Sound investments pay for themselves by making a better future. So now in 2014 comes another example of silly decision making.

A new government report has just been issued, which blames the inability of firefighters to deal with the ammonium nitrate blast in West on “systemic deficiency in . . . training and preparation.” The report notes that “the strategy and tactics utilized by the West Volunteer Fire Department were not appropriate for the rapidly developing and extremely volatile situation, and exposed the firefighters to extreme risks.”

A reader of my blogs will know that this is nothing new. We fail to distinguish between spending on today and investing in tomorrow. We cut today’s budget by refusing to train firefighters and then wring our hands when they die fighting a fire on our behalf. What’s worse, fiscal conservatives will stand by when we spend millions and millions more cleaning up a disaster that could have been prevented by pennies spent on training. No business would dream of running its affairs the way that (supposed) business-savvy people run government.

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