It’s vacation season, and we’re buying some relief from the never-ending stream of deadlines by republishing our all-time favorite tongue-in-cheek column that sheds light on how ludicrous many important features of GAAP are.If financial statements really are scorecards for business, reporting real outcomes, as well as sources of information for predicting the future, it’s essential that they usefully describe what actually happens instead of what someone hoped would happen.

Most everyone who plays golf engages in a little self-deception now and again to make their shortcomings a little more tolerable to their egos. Mulligans, for example, allow them to harmlessly pretend that they really didn’t hit the first ball out of bounds. That kind of fudging is OK if all that’s at stake is bragging rights at the 19th hole. But it’s an entirely different story in the club championship or a televised tournament, where a mulligan would lead to the disgrace of disqualification as a breach of the strict rules.

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