CPAs as purveyors of liberty and prosperity

I was invited by Marydith “Dolly” Miguel (of SGV & Co.), president of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“PICPA”), to be the guest speaker and inducting officer during the online PICPA national conference days ago. Here is an edited portion of my talk (full speech at
Let me quote a popular adage from Confucius: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Indeed, to save a fisherman from destitution, we must help him learn how to fish more effectively; educate him in the skills needed to catch fish more efficiently; assist him in acquiring a boat; allow him the freedom to sail the vast oceans; and, teach him how to market the fish he catches.

Sometimes, some of us fear that the fisherman may get lost and die in the storms; or that he may become selfish and would want to own the entire ocean and its vast resources; or that he may become too rich and powerful and metamorphose into a rival, an enemy, or worse, a master. Such fears of possible misjudgments may indeed happen some of the time. Human arrogance, greed, and avarice lurk in all undertakings. But they are the exceptions rather than the rule. We must never stop dreaming for fear that reality may shatter our dreams.
In turn, the goal of government and of law should be to provide guarantees and incentives to help the fisherman prosper, to create the institutions to support him, and to promulgate minimal regulations to prevent him from appropriating all the fishing areas, from keeping all the earnings to himself, and from forgetting his duty to pay reasonable taxes.

The United States attained affluence because of the pioneers who started a new nation that unleashed the inventive, innovative, and entrepreneurial spirit of people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, and recently of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, and of great leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and, now, Joe Biden who provided them with the encouragement to attain their dreams and the good governance to contain their greed and share their wealth.
In China, Mao Zedong led the masses in a revolt that dislodged a corrupt and inefficient government. But it was Deng Xiaoping, and now, Xi Jinping who led, and continue to lead, this nation to unparalleled economic prosperity by unleashing the entrepreneurial ingenuity of the Chinese under the “One-Country-Two-Systems” philosophy, and who opened the gates of entrepreneurship to the likes of Jack Ma, Liu Qiangdong, and Wang Wenyin.

As a result of World War II, Korea was divided into North and South, which unfortunately engaged in a terrible war that ruined their economies and impoverished their people. Rising from the ruins, South Korea relied on the entrepreneurial spirit of the Koreans and built on their private initiative.
In contrast, North Koreaʍdespite its technological and military bravadoʍwallows in abject poverty as a result of its tight grip on creativity and on its inordinate fear of the entrepreneurship, education, freedom, and prosperity of its people.
Verily, the peoples of the world have different histories, traditions, cultures, ideologies, and mindsets. But I dare say, all of them want, need, and deserve freedom and food, liberty, and prosperity.
Surely, the 160,000 PICPA members are in the forefront of the economy. Big, medium, and small businesses are all dependent on how you evaluate and audit their financial and management performance and on how you report your evaluation and audit to their shareholders and stakeholders.
Whenever you characterize your reports with transparency, accountability, truth, and sustainability (“TATS”), you become purveyors of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law; you become collaborators of Confucius and his fisherman, Edison, Morgan, Roosevelt, Jobs, Deng, Ma, and Liu.

By making your work transparent, you profess, to use a judicial cliché, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” expressed in facts and figures, and in clear and simple language. Truly, transparency that leads to the truth should also show the accountability, if any, of the offices and officers of the firms concerned.
To me, these four TATS are the cornerstones of how CPAs, to paraphrase your conference theme, can truly transform society by embracing the possibilities and realizing the potentials of political liberty and economic prosperity under the rule of law.
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