That personal and corporate bankruptcies in the USA have
increased by over a quarter is obviously bad news.
Yet those who are filing for bankruptcy can at least take
comfort from the fact that, with a
million people in the same position, they are not alone.
Bankruptcy is a fact of life in business. The entrepreneur
never seeks it, and should do all he can to avoid it, but, if it becomes
unavoidable, he should face it like a man.
He must accept responsibility. With a recession putting a
million others in the same boat, he has every right to claim circumstances are
against him, but, at the same time, he must not try to deny that he made the
choices that put him at the mercy of those circumstances.
That might sound harsh but it is in fact a foundation of
hope: the man who takes responsibility for past mistakes also takes
responsibility for his future. He shows that he understands that both depend,
at least in part, on his decisions and his actions.
Bankruptcy involves a difficult moral choice. On the one
hand, most entrepreneurs feel a genuine repugnance at the idea of running away
from their obligations and leaving creditors unpaid.
At the same time, if there is no realistic chance of
improvement, delaying the unpleasant decision to go bankrupt simply increases
the amount other people will lose.
What seems like honourable perseverance can turn out to be
dishonourable indecision if someone else ends up paying for it.
A truly honest man must have both the honesty to admit the
truth when there is no real prospect of anything but getting deeper into debt,
and the honesty to act decisively by choosing the option which, as an honest
man, he finds repellent.
Honour sometimes demands that we embrace what seems