I'll admit that I get a guffaw watching those "man on the street" interviews conducted by Tonight Show host Jay Leno, because I'm never disappointed at the scope of ignorance exhibited by dimwitted passersby who are unable to answer such questions as the name of the sitting vice president, or the correct date of the War of 1812.
But on the other hand, that Paris Hilton-like ignorance also elicits grave concerns.
If it were my choice, the government should locate those people and mandate them to undergo remedial education before being allowed to drive cars or raise families.
And while Jay Leno's questions historically don't cross over to regulatory matters, I was astounded to learn just how many gainfully employed people and investors can't distinguish Sarbanes-Oxley from Neiman-Marcus.
According to a recent poll, an eye-opening 80 percent of U.S. workers and 76 percent of employed investors have never heard of Sarbanes-Oxley -- this despite the fact it is now over two years old.
Step back and think about that for a moment.
The most sweeping corporate fraud legislation to wend its way to Capitol Hill remains incognito to folks apparently aware enough to hold a job and invest for their future.
Still not depressed?
This should do the trick.
In the same survey, a mere 7 percent of working investors -- defined as employees owning at least $5,000 in stocks, bonds and/or mutual funds -- said Sarbanes-Oxley has increased their respective investor confidence. Likewise, only 7 percent among that figure indicated that SOX has increased their confidence in the leadership of public companies.
Those anemic percentages are coming dangerously close to Leno territory.
Now I'm not going to speculate as to the reasons for this sad commentary, but if I were to guess, it might have something to do with choosing reality TV over reading.
This year, my wife and I made the decision that our daughters could not watch TV from Monday through Thursday. For the first time, our oldest made the high honor roll. And that cannot be a coincidence.
But I digress.
Thankfully, the poll responses from those in the profession have been much higher than the general sample.
In fact, 25 percent of people employed in the arenas of accounting and finance reported that they've been asked to do some portion of their jobs differently due to the passage of SOX, while 22 percent said that SOX has made their jobs harder.
That's a little more encouraging, but of course the numbers should be higher.
My question is, if Sarbanes-Oxley were somehow turned into a reality show, would those poll numbers have been more respectable?
On second thought, I don't think I want to know.
-- WebCPA staff
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