Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Big Beef - Fiscal Responsibility

I could really get in trouble for posting this because current, past and future employers could use this against me but I just have to get this off my chest. I am appalled at the fiscal irresponsibility in management.

I have worked in the Information Technology (computer programming, systems programming, etc.) for fifteen years and the last five to six years have been the worst. I have seen multi-million dollar projects driven slowly into the ground to provide little or no benefit to the people who should benefit from them. I have sat shaking my head in disbelief as large balance differences get written off as acceptable losses. I have watched years, even decades of knowledge and working technology literally get thrown out the window for something different.  I have seen programming languages come and go while offering no real benefit to the languages and technology they intended to replace. So much wasted money has passed before or around these eyes and the eyes of my friends that I almost literally broke down at the horror of it all last night.

What makes this even more sickening is that these managers who consistently do not do their jobs and manage are promoted and compensated on a grander scale. One CEO presiding over a company that has lost over 76% of it's value netted a six-figure bonus and salary increase (that's before all the other perks like vehicles, subsidies for side businesses, options, etc.).

Fiscal irresponsibility is not limited to management at big corporations. I'm disappointed that most youth nowadays simply have no concept of savings vs. spending. They will receive government assistance while strutting around with an iPod and flip-phone (with expensive plan) driving a "pimped" car and cable at home. How about the single mom who can't afford to fix a car but can afford televisions and personal-use cell phones for herself and both of her kids; oh and everybody smokes packs of cigarettes as well. I fully comprehend that these are bad examples of a system that is designed to (as does) help people that need help. Still, I see examples of poor financial skills almost every day as people rack up credit card and other debts without regard for living within their means. If you have a cell phone, DVD players, portables, cable TV with movie channels while getting assistance then you aren't poor.

Here in central Ohio there are numerous (if not all) school districts in dire financial predicaments. I grew up in a school district that took six figures worth of loyal taxpayer dollars for strictly cosmetic changes. My child goes to a school district that collects hundreds of dollars in fees in addition to one of the highest tax rates but seems to have a levy on the ballot every year. When I go to these schools, most of them are like palaces on the inside with lots of wasted space – what happened to a good traditional, functional school? This school system also made numerous cosmetic and technology upgrades alongside the necessary upgrades. Again, isn't this a recent thing? What are we paying for? Doesn't anybody in management understand the concept of good planning and forecasting; instead of building and building then begging for money to build more schools, then begging for money to operate these schools, then asking for money to continue operating these schools without having to cut sports and extra-curricular activities?

I have to admit that I'm guilty of some of this myself. I tend to keep mostly current computer technology in my house and I don't invest as diversely as I should (maybe I've been stung too many times by the markets in the past?). I also eat reasonably, drive an economical vehicle, save for special occasions, keep my credit cards paid off, keep cell phone usage to a minimum and keep myself protected.

For the rest of the world, maybe I just don't understand it. Maybe I just don't grasp the concept of upper management or running a school system or being a kid in a media-centric world that places value on possession instead of personality and purpose.

Maybe I'm just getting too old?

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