In her mission to inform the public about the
importance of straightforward government accounting, Sheila Weinberg,
the founder and CEO of the Institute for Truth in Accounting, draws her inspiration from Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson said, 'an informed electorate is the basis for a sound
democracy,'" she says. "If people don't know the information, they
can't make a knowledgeable decision. We're trying to put it in terms
people can understand."
This, Weinberg points
out, is key, because as dire as our country's financial situation
is—and as important as it is for citizens to be vigilant in keeping
public servants accountable with their tax dollars—it's difficult to
get people involved in a "not-so-sexy topic."
Financial ruin isn't sexy, either, though, and Weinberg is determined to get the word out.
years of watching politicians make speeches rather than progress—the
2000 presidential election's "lockbox" debate was a particular tipping
point—Weinberg decided to take matters into her own hands in 2002.
That's when she founded the Institute for Truth in Accounting,
dedicated to encouraging comprehensive, understandable, and transparent
financial reports, with a special focus on the federal and Illinois
It's no secret that the
federal debt is astronomical, but an Institute publication made sure
people knew just how outrageous the situation really is. According to
the September 2006 publication, our federal financial hole is $53.06
trillion—22 times the amount of taxes collected in 2005 and four times
the GDP. In other words, for the federal government to fund its
promised programs and pay off debt and other bills, everyone in the
country must send a $176,700 check to D.C.
a corporation did this, they'd have to shut down," Weinberg says. "But
it's just common practice for the federal government to get a bad
If you think the states are
in any better shape, think again. Illinois, according to Weinberg, for
example, is the worst state in the country in terms of finances.
Although the state Constitution requires a balanced budget, lawmakers
have clearly found a way around that—by hiding bills, hiding borrowing,
and fabricating a surplus.
"You shouldn't go around touting that you balanced your budget when your deficit is $44 billion," she said.
would seem obvious, but many politicians and even citizens just don't
seem to get it. Weinberg is working hard to change that—in 2006 alone,
the Institute produced at least 3 publications to inform citizens about
the federal and state financial deficits, got the "Truth in Accounting"
act introduced into Congress, held a successful Illinois Public
Accountability Pledge Campaign, and much more.
Her goals for the
next 2 years are no less ambitious: expanding the Institute’s efforts
to other state and local governments, more publications, a DVD movie on
federal issues, passage of an improved federal “Truth in Accounting”
act, expansion of the Public Accountability Pledge Campaign, and more.
Step by step, Sheila Weinberg is standing up and fighting back to make
a difference in our financial situation, and to keep our public
servants accountable. Taxpayers everywhere can thank her.
Find this article here: http://www.samadamsalliance.org/publication/id.232/pub_detail.asp