It’s been a busy few weeks since my last blog. During that time, I have had the opportunity to hear a number of great speakers.
First, we kicked off our new TSCPA year with our Leadership Day program in Dallas on May 18. Our keynote speaker was Rom Brafman, a psychologist and co-author (with his brother) of several books, including Sway – The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior and Click – The Magic of Instant Connections. Brafman shared key points with the audience from both books.
Brafman discussed a number of unconscious biases and decision-making mistakes that can lead to irrational behavior. One is the phenomena of overreaction to loss (versus gain), which can lead people to hold onto stocks or other investments for too long in the hopes their values will rise once again and instead they ride them into the ground. Brafman was an enjoyable speaker, and I look forward to a new book he has coming out later in the year.
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Dallas CPA Society’s Education Conference where the luncheon speaker was David Walker, former head of the GAO, a CPA, and currently the president and CEO of Comeback America. I have heard David speak several times in the past and also had read his book last year called Comeback America, so I knew what his message was likely to be and he did not disappoint. In an energized and informative presentation, he laid out the case that the U.S. is going broke and that we are rapidly approaching a tipping point to take corrective action to set the country back on a proper financial course. He estimated we have no more than five years to find real solutions to our debt problem or we may reach a point of no return.
Walker had plenty of slides and data to back up his key points. One statistic that was very telling is that the U.S. is currently spending about $1 billion a day more than we are taking in. With that information, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out we are behaving irrationally and are on a pathway to financial destruction. If you are interested, you can get lots of information and statistics on this issue by going to the Comeback America website at: www.tcaii.org.
Walker also pointed out that the debt problem we are facing is the product of both political parties (sorry partisans). He showed that our spending and debt issues have been created by actions taken when either party has been in control of our government. So unfortunately, our debt creation may be one of the few bi-partisan actions we have seen in our country.
On the positive side, he said he was guardedly optimistic that the current Congress would get a deal done on the debt ceiling issue and that some of the recommendations of the Presidential Debt Commission would probably find their way into the solution. Let’s hope our elected officials are thinking rationally as they deal with this major issue and avoid the decision-making mistakes that Rom Brafman discussed. The stakes are too great for our country.