Outlawing “Bankruptcy” in Europe
The European Union (EU) is currently discussing banning “bankruptcy.” Not the actual financial act, but the word.
Apparently there is a stigma attached to going bankrupt. It leaves people thinking that perhaps you are not credit worthy and that they should think twice about lending you money. To stop people governments from being unduly harmed by the use of this word, the EU wants to replace it with the more neutral “debt adjustment.”
Of course this is not the EU’s first salvo against the English language. It has already banned its lawmakers from using the words “‘Miss” and “Mrs”. By forcing all men to be referred to as “Mr” and women as “Ms”, European legislators will stamp out all remnants of sexism. Or at least, that’s the plan.
What EU politicians are missing is that words are not inherently good or bad. They are just the combination of letters used to refer to an idea. A woman will no longer be unmarried (a Miss) or married (a Mrs), just because the use of the appropriate identifier is removed. Likewise, European officials could well outlaw all nation state demonyms, and force all citizens to refer to themselves as “European”. This would not erase the fact that there are Germans, Frenchmen, and Luxembourgers, all in need of some term of reference.
By legislating away use of a term such as “bankruptcy”, all these officials are doing is needlessly complicating the affairs of those bound by the law. There is a state of affairs that exists when one’s cash flow is insufficient to pay off his debts. Whether one calls such a state “bankruptcy” or “debt adjusted” is immaterial.
If the EU thinks that bankruptcy is such a bad thing, why doesn’t it strike the root? Outlaw bankruptcy. Since the largest offenders are governments, this would amount to legislating balanced budgets and forcing governments to drastically reign in their spendthrift ways. Of course, methinks that asking politicians to draft a law that hampers the way they go about their own affairs to be an unpopular proposal in Brussels.
(Originally posted at Mises Canada.)