With the campaign season drawing near, efforts to boost voter turnout and increase activism are kicking into high gear. The problem of how to get people who are disenchanted with our nation's politics or who think their vote doesn't matter out to the polls is an evergreen issue.

The same could be said for activism among the accounting profession. While there are plenty of active volunteers who devote a great deal of their time to issues that affect the profession, they probably account for a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of CPAs across the country. That isn't to say that their efforts go unnoticed -- they don't. And it isn't to say that those CPAs who are not spending hours every week writing letters to their legislators don't care.

The simple fact is, for some people, it takes a healthy dose of "not in my backyard" syndrome to get them involved. In other words, it isn't until something affects them personally that they do something about it. Well, CPAs have plenty of issues in their professional backyards right now -- government oversight, outsourcing, the public image of the profession, differential standards, just to name a few. And any CPA who thinks that any of those issues won't affect them is wrong. Decisions are being made about how the profession will do business that will impact all accountants. And while it may seem obvious, it's worth stating: Those who are actively involved as the issues are hashed out will help shape the outcome, and those who don't participate won't have any say. And those who don't participate and who complain about the outcome ought to remember the saying, "If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

CPAs pride themselves on the fact that accounting is a profession with high ethical standards. Just as there's no way to mandate integrity, there's no way to mandate involvement. But there's good reason for CPAs get involved in some of the debates going on right now. After all, it's your profession.

Contact the local chapter of your state CPA society or the American Institute of CPAs, or get together with CPAs in your area.

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