It has been over a year since I made any sort of announcement about the policies and changes for this website, and I realized (thanks to the advice of the person who helps me run this site) that I need to do so again.
1) I stopped blogging back in January 2012. There has not been a single blog post about writing or any other issue since then, and that will not change going forward. (Hmm, I spoke too soon. Item #4 on this particular post turned out to be one last personal opinion I needed to get off my chest.)
This website will be morphing over the next 18-24 months into a website for readers due to upcoming changes in my writing career. That means the website’s main focus will be on soon-to-be published stories and novels.
For now I will leave the past posts up, as well as the page of “Advice for Writers” that gives links to some of the most useful stuff. But the blog posts themselves have been archival material for nearly a year now–i.e. the old posts are there, but they will not be updated.
2) Comments for all the blog posts were turned off back in March 2011. Since then all new posts have automatically had comments turned off. However, my website helper has pointed out to me that by “grandfathering” in the comments that were made before March 2011, it gives the mistaken impression that comments are still open for the particular posts that have them.
To prevent future confusion, all comments have been pulled and archived, including my own comments. Comments have been closed since March 2011, and remain closed.
3) All blog posts were my unpaid personal opinions and thoughts. My blog does not give legal advice, nor am I a lawyer. I was not, and am not, a reporter. This website is not a newspaper, news journal, newsfeed, or magazine, nor has it ever portrayed itself as one. It also does not publish other writers’ articles.
4) I can now go into more detail about a volunteer job that had a major impact on how I view financial irregularities, since enough time has gone by since I stepped down.
I used to be a Treasurer for small non-profits.
There were times as a Treasurer I handled about two thousand dollars in cash during a day’s fundraiser, and during a business year, tens of thousands of dollars in small checks and cash passed through my hands.
There were good bookkeeping practices in place to keep track of the money, as well as special checks and balances to make it hard for me to embezzle if I had ever been tempted to do so. These procedures were neither difficult to enforce nor slow to implement, even though we were a small non-profit made up of only volunteers. A lot of the procedures were just plain common sense.
I have very passionate personal opinions on embezzlement and financial mismanagement–and I have expressed them in the past–that are based on my experiences in being entrusted with other people’s money: large checks, small checks, thick stacks of twenties, a few quarters, and everything in-between.
People trusted me to do things right. To protect their money not only from others, but from myself.
L. M.’s Personal Opinion: Anyone entrusted with others’ money has a serious moral obligation to put in place sound bookkeeping practices from Day 1, and must include checks and balances in the system that protect against mismanagement due to illness/death, and embezzlement. Those checks and balances protect those who have chosen to risk their (or the company’s or organization’s) livelihood.
There is NO excuse for not having these protective systems in place. Absolutely none.
For example, the best financial managers I know don’t even *allow* client money to pass through their firm’s accounts. They manage clients’ funds through a third party (such as Fidelity) who holds onto the actual money. This creates a “firewall” to help prevent accidental mixing of client funds or embezzlement.
Treasurers swap horror stories. Horror stories about embezzlement and gross financial mismanagement in non-profits … of clients … in school districts … in government agencies … in companies.
What really gets me seething is what I call “the silent losses” that happen behind the scenes in these stories…
Money to pay employees’ salaries: gone.
Money to pay for training and equipment: gone.
Money to pay for health insurance: gone.
Money to pay for kids’ clothes and groceries: gone.
Money to start a business or fund a new project: gone.
Money to pay the vendors and suppliers: gone.
Almost never is stolen money willingly paid back to the victims by someone caught in embezzlement. Typically it takes an arrest and/or court filing to have any hope of getting a small fraction of the money back.
However, once money is stolen, it’s usually gone for good. The damage is done, and is sometimes so severe that the victim (or company) is forced to go bankrupt.
Sometimes a victim commits suicide.
I have zero tolerance for shoddy, sloppy bookkeeping and accounting practices since they make it too easy for gross mismanagement or embezzlement to occur.
There’s no excuse for shoddy accounting. None. Zip. Zero.