Thankful for Home

Thanksgiving brought a busy half week of engaging with family and avoiding anything explicitly school related. I returned to Austin late Saturday night, woke up Sunday and went to Starbucks to begin my last tax research memo!! As I turned on my computer and logged onto the Starbucks page, I found a fascinating video entitled Ripe for Change.

Since I am an expert procrastinator, the topic of anything but tax research caught my eye. Since I am from California, this topic of food production hits close to home. And as we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, food seemed to be an appropriate topic. Watching the video, I found that the issues it addresses within the food industry are highly relevant to us as accountants.

One such issue is regulation. The tensions between the need for regulation and its burden have been prevalent recently, and are particularly relevant in the financial industry that many of us will enter from the MPA program.

In the documentary as multiple farmers comment on the same trend, for example mechanical picking, we see that there is not always a clear cut way to respond to the availability of new technology or situations; we even see that sometimes the alleged problem is not as obvious as it seems.

Many of us who wrote cases for intermediate accounting this past fall may feel all too familiar with this ambiguity. After reading each case the first time and doing some initial research the answer seemed obvious. As we thought more, read more, and perhaps re-read the case, we found that not only might our answer be incorrect, but that we may not have been asking the right question.

The movie and the cases identify an important theme: there is not always a clear answer. If something seems obvious, perhaps the best approach is to re-think. Consider what the end user will think, consider the effect on related parties or transactions. In following these steps, one may encounter even more arguments and questions. The film points out that sustainable ideas must be evaluated on three prongs: economic, social and ecological. Perhaps fallout in the financial industry provides evidence that attempting to maximize any one of these prongs cannot produce optimal results.

In addition to being thankful this holiday season, many of us are evaluating job offers and reflecting on our future careers. When Steve Jobs addressed the 2005 graduating class at Stanford, he suggested that the way to love your life is to love your work. In this video the farmer, David Mas Masumoto, shares his passion for what he does. When confronted with losing his career farming peaches, he wrote his book “Epitaph for a Peach” to articulate the importance of what he does rather than simply standing by and forfeiting his career. He calls it a book about “saving a peach, saving a farm, saving a family, saving a way of life… a story about finding ‘home’”.

So here is to our program that teaches us to consider the business environment in which we participate, the social environment in which we live, and the industry we have decided to study. I am thankful for an education that challenges me to think about seemingly good ideas in a broader context and one that helps me find something to love like home.

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