"Unaccountable management makes governments fail. Why do government clerks and bailiffs become rich, yet leave their offices in debt and financial chaos?" ("Accounting for Princes," Amsterdam, 1604, Simon Stevin.) Simon Stevin was a Dutch water engineer at the University of Leiden who taught Prince Maurice double entry bookkeeping.
To apply double entry accounting in state affairs was unheard of and stunned most contemporary rulers. Looking at Greece, most of Latin America and the Caribbean, it is still unheard of in many countries. The Catholic Church regarded bookkeeping as a mortal sin, since it was an imitation of God, who kept books on all mortals for his final reckoning on Doomsday. No wonder that the Spanish empire collapsed with one bankruptcy after the next. Spanish colonies in South America still suffer from lack of accounting and suffer through extended periods of poverty from failed States; millions are victims of stealing and robbing "clerks and bailiffs". Greece, robbed clean by "clerks and bailiffs" of successive administrations, still receives a lot of sympathy in the world from political ideologists who still believe that double entry bookkeeping is a mortal sin.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle