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The SEC, The Army Inspector General, and . . . socks

05/09/2013

While most people consider their military experience to be good, most of their memories are bad.  Some memories, however, are just plain annoying.  My nomination for the most annoying of all military memories is the “IG Inspection.”  This is when some field-grade officer from the Inspector General Department comes to inspect the troops.  Ostensibly, he makes sure the troops have the equipment they need and that equipment is properly maintained.  Actually, it is a great way to increase and enforce conformity of the troops.

As an example, soldiers were issued two pair of wool socks and two pair of nylon socks.  They were to be presented for IG Inspection by being placed in the top tray of our foot locker.  The top tray had a left and a right compartment.  The wool socks were displayed on the bottom left corner of the left compartment, and the nylon socks were displayed on the bottom left corner of the right compartment.  Further, the two pair of wool socks should be touching.  The nylon socks had to be separated by a quarter inch.

The most similar experience to IG Inspections in civilian life must be regulatory inspections.  As one absurd example, an SEC auditor once criticized me years ago for having light blue files instead of dark blue files.  Fortunately, I have found the Virginia regulators to be far less absurd, even helpful.

The SEC never caught Bernie Madoff, because they were looking for absurd little things that don’t matter, just like the Inspector General.  On the other hand, the Virginia regulators first make a good-faith effort to determine if the advisor is a crook or not, before then showing the advisor some helpful hints to actually improve his compliance.

Yesterday, we were audited by the state, and they didn’t care if my nylon socks are touching or not.

I know it is not fashionable to say anything good about state employees, but maybe we should let them run the SEC . . . or at least run the Army’s Inspector General Department.

Do I hear a motion?

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