Tag Archives: Sarbanes-Oxley

THE NEED FOR A FREE ENTERPRISE BILL OF RIGHTS

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Bookmark and Share    It begins with “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution of the United States of America.”…but where does it end?

The preamble to our constitution creates quite a few questions. How do we insure domestic tranquility, what actions can we take to provide for a “common defense”? What issues are considered appropriate when determining government action that promotes beneficial general welfare?

Many of these questions do get addressed throughout the body of the constitution, as it gets into detail, but the creators of this document, for better or worse, have left a degree of ambiguity in all of its instruction.

It is a living document ever changing under the interpretations of its current contemporary custodians. And there in lies, not the problem, but the confusion with our republic. More often than not, constitutional rights are either wrongly denied or wrongfully stretched and applied to that which is unintended. The same is done in the area of constitutional responsibilities.

Such is the case when it comes to our economy.

As far as the economy goes, section 8 of our constitutional requirements are as follows:

To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

Those clauses have been broadly expanded as naturally as time, technology and our economy has expanded. Yet in many cases the rate of regulation based on those stipulations has far exceeded the rate of economic expansion and has often stymied the natural flow of economic cycles.

In the biggest display of hypocritical thinking regarding the natural order of our free market, liberals who would be the first to denounce any actions that would effect the natural habitat of something like Alabama’s endangered dusky gopher frog are, conversely, the first to call for altering the natural effects of our economy.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is a perfect example of that. Originally intended to insure proper business practices, the bill created a new industrial regulatory complex that grew the size and scope of government and more than doubled the time it takes for a business to start up and go public.

But Sarbanes-Oxley was not a liberal owned overreaching of government. It was supported by as many Republicans as Democrats. The bipartisanship of Sarbanes-Oxley is just a great example of the fact that government, more often than not, hurts more than helps.

Truth be told government has been the source to all of our current problems.

Using the constitutions eight basic economic references, government has in some cases underperformed their duties and in other cases over performed.

When it comes to the banking crisis that ushered in our current economic woes, government did both.

Late 1990’s Clinton era regulations mandated banks to enter in to sub-prime loans to high risk recipients. They forced banks to give housing loans to people who could not afford to pay these loans back. This helped create an over inflated housing bubble that was sure to burst. When it did, one of the most basic economic indicators, housing starts, stalled and slowly did the rest of the economy. Simultaneously, the bill for the millions of home loans that high risk recipients inevitably could not pay back, came due and yielded no return. So foreclosures ensued and banks tightened up loaning practices. In this chain of events, as the loaning of money tightened so did commerce in almost every area across the board.

The government’s mandating the implementation of their own public policy initiative into the private sector, as well as the federal government’s Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae institutions, helped create the problem.

In addition to that, the government’s failure to properly do something that they should have done added to the crisis.

In 2006 when Republicans saw a need to revise the recording policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, liberals refused to do so. Under the Chairmanship of banking committee chairs Barney Franks and Chris Dodd, the liberal majority refused to properly police itself and by the time the inadequacies of the governments recording practices were self evident, it was too late and the government needed to begin the habit bailouts in creating recovery packages that reached totals in the hundreds of billions.

Yet the very same government that could not regulate itself tries to over regulate others. Sarbanes-Oxley is just such an example.

It comes down to this. When government goes beyond its constitutional purpose it becomes the problem, not the solution, and when the constitution is stretched, government breaks the natural order of a free nation.

Just as wrong as the politically correct left is by stretching constitutional rights and trying to misapply them, It is wrong for our government to try to insure that all risks are created equal. Today, government policy is directed at eliminating consequences. Enter into a risk and no matter how good an idea it was or wasn’t, the government will insure that it is covered and rewarded. Run an industry into the ground and government will you bail it. Answer one of those emails asking you to secure millions for a Nigerian Prince’s inheritance by giving him your account number, then lose all the money in your account and the federal government is suppose to give you that money back because you were stupid.

Our modern government has slowly but surely eroded the very constitution that led to our preeminence. We have moved beyond the contradictory socialist programming that is the antithesis of our founding and surpass attempts to spread the wealth. Today, our government spreads the failure. Rather have a rising tide that lifts all boats, the government operates under the philosophy that if one ship is sinking, put holes in all the others. Instead of offering incentives for innovation and success we offer incentive for mediocrity and failure.

And it all stems from a government that has stretched its constitutional place in our free lives and our free enterprises. Instead of allowing the free market to evolve in a way that is best suited to the needs of the consumers, government steps in to make a commitment to a prolonged propping up of failed industries, products and policies. That hurts us all.

It weighs us down and allocates burdensome budgets of wasteful, unnecessary spending.

Government needs to focus on what it can and should do. Instead of creating new laws to over regulate industries, the government needs to make existing agencies effective. When the Federal Trade Commission or Securities and Exchange Commission can properly identify fraud before it is revealed then maybe we can have confidence in the creation or expansion of more government regulatory agencies and initiatives.

The thought of continuing in the direction we are going makes us think twice.

Instead of creating more government and instead of stretching the constitution to find more things that the government needs to control maybe we should begin a new trend.

Instead of proposing more and more things for government to do and more areas for government to intrude, let us start proposing things that government can not do and areas that they can not intrude on.

A start would be an idea that was originally proposed as an amendment to the recent stimulus package law but now that it has passed, I feel that a more expansive version can be offered as a bill in own right.

It is a free Bill of Free Enterprise Rights.

The bill would outline all the things that government is prohibited from doing when it comes to mandating policies in the private sector.

For starters, the bill could prohibit the federal government from forcing private banks to issue unqualified applicants and it could create limits to federal intervention and influence on the private sector.

A carefully crafted Bill Of Free Enterprise Rights could be as meaningful and effective as the human Bill of Rights was. Just as that bill benefited human beings and our nation so would a properly written Bill of Free Enterprise Rights. It could empower free enterprise as much as American citizens were empowered and much like our citizens, free enterprise could be protected from an abusive or tyrannical government.

The benefits would also be hared by government as well.

With an effective Bill of Free Enterprise Rights the government would not feel required to burden itself with the need to waste taxpayer dollars on free market ventures that have failed. Government could focus more on doing a good job with its own constitutional job requirements.

Perhaps by creating a trend of proposing legislation that limits government, we can reverse some of governments detrimental effects on our free markets and our free society.

Of course this is all very counter to the socialist agenda of the spread the wealth era but then again the socialist agenda is counter to the constitution and the reason for being American. So under a socialist agenda, a law that articulates the rights of free enterprise would be counterproductive. It would limit government control and it would expand opportunity. But wait,……… this is still America, right? So why should we be concerning ourselves with socialists and their agendas anyway.

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THE SARBANES-OXLEY ACT OF ’02 IS KILLING US IN ’09

Bookmark and Share    In 2002, congress created legislation commonly called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. It was designed to respond to the accounting scandals of Enron and other business interests of the time.antsoxdummyThe legislation established new and increased regulations for all American owned and operated public company boards.

At the time, the Sarbanes-Oxley sponsored Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 was considered to contain the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

Sponsored by Paul Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat Senator and Ohio Republican Congressman Michael Oxley, the bill passed with bipartisan support and was signed into effect by a Republican President, George W. Bush.  So credit and blame lies in the lap of both major parties but now, almost seven years later, the question is does Sarbanes-Oxley deserve more blame than credit.

The political purpose of the bill was achieved.  It helped to restore public confidence in the securities markets.

In the wake of the accounting scandal that brought down energy giant Enron, its stock prices plummeted from more than $90.00 a share to less than 50 cents a share and investors lost billions and Enron eventually went bankrupt. In response to the shocking demise of Enron, congress tried to act in a way that would restore investors confidence by trying to insure that the scandalous practices of Enron would not be repeated.

So congress responded to the problem which took care of the political objective. They did something about it. But what did they really do about it?

Regretfully, all they actually did was make themselves look good. They made themselves look like responsible legislators responding to our needs but looks are deceiving because seven years later, Sarbanes-Oxley is proving to be more of a hindrance than a help.

There is little evidence proving that the government entity created by Sarbanes-Oxley to oversee the accounting practices of businesses has been effective. In fact, after Democrats refused to pass legislation that would have changed their own accounting practices which led to the need to bailout FannieMac and FreddieMac, there is even more evidence which indicates that government should be the last entity to be counted on for effective oversight. It is government oversight which required banks and loaning entities such as FannieMae and FreddieMac to enter into high risk loans that could not be paid off. All of which helped to usher in the banking crisis that led the way to our current financial crunch.

It is all an example of government overreaching and innefficiency and innaccuracy.

Initially compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was projected to cost businesses, that want to go public, about $91 thousand dollars to do so but the actual figure is over $4 million dollars.

This typical government miscalculation has helped to push the start up time for businesses from five years to twelve years and it is adding to the stagnation of a much needed rate of growth for our economy.

At a time when the federal government has spent over $ 1 billion 200 million in the name of economic stimulus, does it really make sense to leave untouched, excessive legislation which is counterproductive to the goals of all that stimulus spending?

When you come down to it, enforcement of Sarbanes-Oxley costs more than it is worth.

That is not to suggest that Sarbanes-Oxley must be scrapped.   It must be amended.

Of the eleven sections in the bill, some have merit. Specifically, those sections which hold business executives and owners more accountable. However, no responsible legislative stimulus action can exist without addressing the many other detrimental sections of the bill which are having a debilitating effect on economic growth.

To allow the so-called Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 to remain as is, during the economic recovery attempts of 2009, is irresponsible and reckless.

In its current form the bill is destroying new job creation, stifling our entrepreneurial spirit and surrendering entrepreneurial innovation to foreign competitors. None of which adds any value to the hundreds of billions of dollars that are intended to grow our economy.

Without changes to the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, our government is allowing existing legislation to work against all of their current and future economic recovery measures. Without changes to this bill, we are prolonging the economic downturn we are in and putting our economic future on a course that will put us far behind the burgeoning markets and economies of Asia.

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U4PREZ

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.

The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.”

Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”

Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal”?

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