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(2013 年 4 月 10 日——4 月 20 日)

【注意事项】 本文通过 2012 年美国总统大选中候选人针对贫困 : 阶层政策的讨论, 系统描述和分析当今美国社会的贫困问题。本 文有大量经典长难句、 地道英文表达、 美国文化和社会背景介绍、 经济学和政治学专业词汇,篇幅较长,难度略高于考研真题。同 学们在完成

当周讲义学习和之前讲义复习的基础上, 可以进行阅 读。 但也要按照课堂的要求进行精读。切记不要为了阅读此文而 忽略讲义内容,不可主次不分;也不可泛泛而读,否则起不到补 充训练的效果。 本文有任何细节不懂, 也可以随时向我提问。 另, 本文最后附有对部分生僻背景知识的注释。 ————海天英语老师 赵南望

The poor in America 美国的贫困阶级
America’s poor were little mentioned in Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. They deserve better

巴拉克·奥巴马的连任竞选几乎没有提到美国的穷人们。这对他们来说很不公 平。
(2012 年 11 月 10 日, 《经济学人》)
You do what you can 尽力而为 When Barack Obama first ran for president, Emma Hamilton was part of that politically crucial cohort, the white working class. A tall woman with tawny hair, broad shoulders, a firm handshake and a forthright, direct manner, Ms Hamilton worked as a loader at a factory in Sumter,

a modest city of 40,000 in east-central South Carolina. In July 2008, however, after seven years on the factory floor, she mangled her hand between two heavy rollers. The accident was to leave her unable to work. 在巴拉克·奥巴马第一次竞选总统时,艾玛·汉密尔顿(Emma Hamilton)还在工作。 当时的她属于在美国政治中起到举足轻重作用的阶级群体——白人工人——中的一员。 汉密 尔顿女士高个子,宽肩膀,长着一头褐发,举止直率,握手有力。她在南卡罗来纳州中东部 一个 4 万人的小镇苏姆特上做工厂装货工干了七年。不幸的是,在 2008 年 7 月发生的一起 工厂事故中,她的手被卷入两个重型滚筒之间。这次事故让她无法再继续工作。 She lost her house three years later, in April 2011. She, her 20-year-old son and her dog moved into her teal Chevy van, where they have been living ever since, collecting metal cans during the day and sleeping in a grocery-store car park at night. 三年之后,她在 2011 年 4 月失去了住的房子。于是,她和 20 岁的儿子以及家里的狗一 起搬到她那辆蓝绿色的雪佛兰货车货厢内居住。直到现在,他们依然住在货车里,每天白天 捡易拉罐,晚上则把车停在一间杂货店门口的停车场上过夜。 When a pain in Ms Hamilton?s leg grew too severe to ignore, an employee at the shelter where she and her son occasionally stay directed her to the Excelsior Medical Clinic in downtown Sumter. The assistant who checked her in was named Patricia Dunham. Ms Dunham has cinnamon-coloured skin, arresting blue eyes and an easy, infectious laugh. She works at the Excelsior for 37.5 hours each week. At night she works behind the counter at a fast-food restaurant. The first job pays $12.50 an hour, the second $7.25, the federal minimum wage. If she could rely on 24 hours a week at the restaurant—which is what she would like—she would earn $32,137.50 for working 61.5 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, before tax witholdings. 汉密尔顿女士偶尔会和她儿子去一间收容所里居住。 当汉密尔顿夫人腿上的疼痛剧烈的 无法容忍时, 一位她和她儿子偶尔住过的收容所的雇员介绍她去苏姆特市中心的精益医疗中 心问诊。在那里为她挂号的助手名叫帕特丽夏·邓纳姆(Patricia Dunham) 。邓纳姆女士有 着淡红褐色的皮肤,引人注目的蓝色双眸。她的笑声爽朗自在,很具有感染力。她每周在精 益医疗中心工作 37.5 个小时。 每天晚上她会在快餐店站柜台。 前一份工作薪水为每小时 12.50 美元,后一份工作每小时则只有 7.25 美元,这是联邦政府规定的工资下限。如果她一周可 以在快餐店打工 24 小时(她希望能够获得这么多工时) ,那么她每周工作 61.5 小时,一年 工作 50 周的税前总收入会是 32137.50 美元。 Ms Dunham has three school-age children and a husband who is unable to work. Mr Dunham has a prison record, and since 2010 he has had periodic seizures that leave him bedridden for days afterwards. Ms Dunham has no health insurance at her jobs. She pays for her husband?s anti-seizure medicine and her seven-year-old?s attention-deficit medicine out of her own pocket. 邓纳姆女士有三个还在上学年龄的孩子,她的丈夫不能工作。邓纳姆先生有过前科,而 且在 2010 年后就周期性频发癫痫,每次发作后都得在床上躺好几天。邓纳姆女士的工作不 提供医疗保险。她必须自掏腰包为丈夫的抗癫痫药物和她七岁大孩子的治疗多动症药物买 单。 She and her husband are still paying off a $2,100 loan they had to take out in 2010 to bury Mr Dunham?s mother, but car payments are no longer a concern: Ms Dunham fell behind, and

shortly after your correspondent met her her car was repossessed. Her medical office is in walking distance of her home, but the fast-food restaurant is not. Her shift ends late and the streets are not the safest. 她和丈夫还在偿还 2010 年为了给邓纳姆先生的母亲办葬礼所借下的 2100 美元贷款, 不 过她已经不用为汽车贷款担心了。 因为无法按时支付贷款, 在笔者采访后不久她的汽车就被 收走了。她工作的医疗中心离家并不远,可以步行上下班。但是那间快餐店则不然。她每天 的轮班很晚才会结束,而晚上城里的街道并不安全。 These are two snapshots of life on the American margins. Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does (see chart 1). You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson?s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families? basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing. 在她们身上你可以看到美国边缘阶级的两副画面。现在有约 15%的美国人(大约 4620 万人) 像汉密尔顿女士一样生活在贫困线以下。 要在美国历史里找到上一次贫困率明显高于 今天的时期,你得一直倒朔回 20 世纪 60 年代初林登·约翰逊(Lyndon Johnson)的“伟大 社会”政策[注 1]实施之前。另一方面,还有数量多得多的美国人和邓纳姆女士一样,他们 的收入虽位于贫困线之上, 但却不够满足其家庭的每月基本需求。 而且现在有越来越多迹象 显示这一人群的数量正在增加。 Getting stickier 日益棘手 Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole?s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation?s promise”. 曾几何时,穷困人民的命运是美国政治家心头的一副重担。罗纳德·里根(Ronald Reagan)以帮助穷人而自傲,他使得穷人可以免交联邦所得税。1996 年大选时鲍勃·多尔 (Bob Dole)的竞选搭档杰克·凯普(Jack Kemp)试图带头“打一场新的反贫困战争” 。小 布什(George W. Bush)称“严重而持久的贫困现象辜负了美国对人民作出的承诺”[注 2]。 No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama?s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word. 但这已成为过去。 如今政府预算吃紧, 而社会保障系统又费用高昂。 米特· 罗姆尼 (Mitt Romney)公开宣称他“不关心那些非常穷困的人” ,因为那些人有社会保障照料。奥巴马的 第二任计划书内仅有一处提到贫困问题, 在整个竞选过程中他在提到贫困阶级时一直小心翼 翼地称其为“那些争取跻身中产阶级的人们”“贫穷”一词看来已经变成了禁语。 。 Mr Obama?s re-election and Democratic control of the Senate give federal anti-poverty programmes a level of security they would have lacked under a Romney administration. But America?s poor face systemic challenges beyond the aid of any single administration or programme. Once diligent high-school dropouts could get a job on a factory line and work their way into the middle class: no longer. The low-skill, high-wage jobs that many used to climb out of

poverty in the 20th century are largely gone. Deteriorating family structure among the poor threatens to trap poor children at the bottom of the income ladder for life. And looming cuts to discretionary spending threaten America?s already thin safety net. 奥巴马赢得连任, 加上民主党控制了参议院让扶贫政策获得了一定程度上的保障, 如果 罗姆尼上任的话,这些政策恐怕是凶多吉少了。但即使如此,美国的穷人依然面临着方方面 面的巨大问题,这些并不是单靠某届政府,或是某个项目就能够解决的。过去勤奋的高中辍 学生可以找到工厂流水线上的工作, 并在这些岗位上逐步跻身中产阶级。 现在情况则大不一 样了,20 世纪曾帮助很多人脱贫的低技术、高薪水工作现在基本已经消失。穷困阶级内日 益恶化的家庭结构问题意味着穷人家的孩子终生被困在收入阶梯最底层的机会越来越大。 而 政府可支配开支[注 3]即将面临的巨大削减也将进一步威胁到本来已非常薄弱的美国社会保 障系统。 The 15% poverty rate is calculated using the official federal poverty threshold of $11,702 in annual income for an individual or $23,201 for a family of four, which is about 44% of median income for an individual and 30% for a family of four. The OECD, a rich-country club, provides comparative figures for a poverty line of 40% of median household income after tax and transfer. On that basis America?s rate is 11%, well above the OECD average of 6% (see chart 2). 上述 15%的贫困率是根据联邦政府的贫困标准算出的。该标准将贫困线定在个人年收 入低于 11702 美元 (美国个人中位收入值的 44%) 或是四口之家年收入低于 23201 美元 , (美 国四口之家中位收入值的 30%) 。主要由发达国家组成的经济合作和发展组织(OECD)将 贫困线定在税收和补贴计算之后的中位家庭收入值的 40%。如果按这个标准来算,美国的 贫困率应该是 11%,这要大大高于 OECD 所有成员的平均值 6%。 Popular images of American poverty summon up Appalachia or Oakland—rural whites and urban blacks—and there is much truth in that. Most counties exhibiting persistent poverty—meaning counties with poverty rates of 20% or higher, consistently, from 1990 to 2010—are indeed in rural America (see map). And the overall rate of poverty is highest in large cities. While a plurality of the poor—19.2m—are non-Hispanic white, the rates of poverty are higher among minorities; over a quarter of both blacks and Latinos live in poverty, while only a tenth of whites do. 提到美国的穷人, 人们脑中最先想到的往往是阿巴拉契亚或奥克兰——这两处分别代表 穷困的农村白人和城市黑人——这种印象确实和很多现实情况相吻合。 美国大多数持续贫困 县(指贫困率在 1990 年到 2010 年之间一直处于 20%或以上的县)确实都是农村地区。而 整体贫困率最高的地方则往往是大都市。虽然超过半数的穷人(1920 万)是非拉丁裔白人, 少数族裔中的贫困率往往更高。 黑人和拉丁裔中的贫困率都超过四分之一, 而白人中仅有十 分之一生活在贫困线以下。 The child-poverty rate is higher, according to a UNICEF report, than that in Japan, Canada or any European country other than Romania, and it blights lives. A child from a family in America?s bottom quintile of earners is markedly less likely than a child born into the top quintile to be ready for school at five. He is less likely to graduate from high school with decent grades; he is more likely while still of school age to become a parent or be convicted of a crime. Degrees and high earnings are even less probable. 根据联合国儿童基金会(UNICEF)的一份报告,美国的儿童贫困率比日本、加拿大以

及除罗马尼亚外所有的欧洲国家都要高,而儿童贫困对于受影响者的生活会造成巨大打击。 拿两个孩子为例, 其中一个的家庭排在全美国收入最低的五分之一家庭内, 另一个的家庭则 排在美国收入最高的五分之一家庭里, 那么前者在 5 岁时达到可入学上课水平的机会比后者 要低得多。 前一个孩子将来以较好的成绩从高中毕业的机会更低, 也更有可能还在就学年龄 就当上父母或是犯罪,大学文凭和高收入对他来说更是遥不可及。 For most, poverty will be a temporary condition; chronic poverty remains relatively rare. But it does seem to be growing more common. Only 2.8% of Americans were poor throughout the 36 months starting in January 2004. In 2009-10, after the crisis, that share rose to 4.8%. Another problem which got worse during the crisis, but was growing beforehand, is suburban poverty. The number of poor people living in the suburbs grew 53% between 2000 and 2010 as decades of suburban flight reversed and America?s cities once again became desirable places to work, attracting back better-off suburbanites and damaging marginal suburban economies. The financial crisis made things worse, particularly in the once-booming sunbelt. As of 2008 more than a third of America?s poor live in suburbs. 对于大多数人来说,贫困只是个暂时现象。长期贫困相对来说还是比较罕见的。但这种 现象正在变得越来越普及。 2004 年 1 月开始算起的 36 个月内生活一直处于贫困线之下的 从 美国人只有 2.8%。而在金融危机之后,在 2009-2010 年间,这个比例上跳到了 4.8%。市 郊贫困是另一个在金融危机期间变得更严重的问题, 只不过这个问题早在危机之前就已呈恶 化趋势。2000 年至 2010 年间生活在市郊的穷人数目增长了整整 53%。在这段时间内,之前 持续了几十年的移居市郊趋势开始逆转, 美国城市重新开始吸引人们前来工作, 一些经济宽 裕的市郊人士纷纷移回市内居住, 这对一些边缘的市郊经济造成了巨大破坏。 金融危机让这 个问题进一步加剧,其影响在曾经繁荣的阳光地带[注 4]特别显著。2008 年美国穷人中有超 过三分之一居住在市郊地区。 Imprisoned in poverty, and vice versa 被穷困禁锢,在禁锢中变穷 In 2010 10.5m Americans counted as working poor, meaning they spent 27 weeks in the labour force but still lived below the poverty line. This was the highest number since the Bureau of Labour Statistics started keeping track in 1987. The number would be much higher if it included people such as Ms Dunham, unable to meet all her family?s needs despite being above the poverty line 2010 年,共有 1050 万美国人属于穷困工薪阶级。这意味着这些人每年至少工作 27 周, 但还是处于贫困线以下。这是美国劳工统计局自 1987 年开始统计这一数据以来的最高值。 如果算入像是邓纳姆女士这样位于贫困线以上, 但无法满足所有家庭需要的人士, 这个数字 还会高得多。 A common lament is that, 40 or 50 years ago, motivated workers with little formal education, like Ms Dunham, would have been able to find factory jobs that paid a decent wage with benefits. But low-skilled and humdrum jobs, particularly in manufacturing, have gone overseas, or fallen victim to automation. Only low-level service jobs have been left in their wake (almost a third of the working poor are in the service sector). This is an oversimplification—manufacturing jobs are not invariably higher paying than service jobs—but there is some truth to it. 经常可以听到这样的叹息: 四五十年前, 像邓纳姆女士那样勤劳肯干但没受过什么正规 教育的工人可以找到一份工资不错、且拥有各种福利的工厂工作。但低技能和单调工作,尤

其是制造业岗位不是流失到海外, 就是变成自动化的牺牲品。 只有低技能服务业岗位得以保 存下来 (穷困工薪阶级有将近三分之一从事的是服务业) 这样的感叹有点把事情过于简化, 。 制造业的岗位薪水并不一定比服务业高。即使如此,这些感叹依然道出了一些真相。 Wages for low earners have been largely stagnant for the past 40 years. Between 1947 and 1967, hourly wages of private, non-supervisory workers, who comprise more than 80% of American wage-earners, grew by an average of 2.3% a year. In the past three decades, however, hourly wages rose by a paltry 0.2% annually. From 2007 to 2011 average hourly wages fell for the bottom 70% of American workers, with the steepest drops for the lowest-paid. 美国低收入员工的薪水在过去 40 年几乎没有什么变化。美国工作人口中有超过 80%在 私有企业非管理类岗位就职, 而在 1947 年至 1967 年间, 这些岗位的时薪平均每年增加 2.3%。 但在过去三十年里,这类工作的时薪平均每年只增长了微薄的 0.2%。2007 年到 2011 年间, 全美收入最高的 30%以外的所有工作人士的平均时薪都减少了,而收入最低者时新减少得 最厉害。 As well as declines in wages, the crisis brought a sharp reduction in the proportion of the population of working age in the workforce. In the early 2000s the proportion was between 62% and 63%. By 2010 it was below 59%. The longer someone is out of work the harder it becomes to get back in, which could turn the temporary macroeconomic problem of high unemployment in the slump into a structural shift towards poverty. 除了薪水缩减以外,金融危机也大幅度减少了工作人士在适工年龄人群中所占的比例。 在 2000 年代初期,工作参与率介于 62%和 63%之间。到 2010 年这个数字跌到 59%以下。 失业时间越长,要重新找到工作也越困难。这样一来,经济萧条时期的高失业率这本应是暂 时性的宏观经济问题慢慢转变成了向贫困靠拢的结构性变迁。 America?s phenomenally high incarceration rate also plays a part. Mr Dunham?s prison record is not unusual; 37% of young black high-school dropouts have one. Time in prison makes a person more likely to earn less, more likely to have trouble holding on to a job and less likely to be married. Roughly three-quarters of high-school dropouts with prison records never make it above the bottom income quintile. The eightfold growth in the prison population from 1970 to 2010 has turned ever more poor decisions into poor lives. 美国高得异乎寻常的监禁率也加剧了这个问题。 杜纳姆先生的前科记录并不稀奇。 黑人 高中辍学青年中有 37%都有前科。在牢里呆过的人收入更有可能会较低,也更难长时间呆 在一个岗位上, 同时结婚的机会也更小。 有前科的高中辍学人士中有大约四分之三再也没有 逃出过全美收入最低的五分之一人士这个圈子。1970 年到 2010 年间美国监狱监禁人数翻了 八倍,越来越多的人因一时犯错而身陷穷困。 Then there is deteriorating family structure among the poor. In 1965 Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then working on Lyndon Johnson?s “war on poverty”, warned of the breakdown in family structure among black families. A quarter were headed by women, he wrote in “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”, and nearly a quarter of black children were, in the language of the time, “illegitimate”. Today the unmarried birth rate for Americans averaged across all ethnicities is higher than that, at almost 41%. For white women who did not finish high school, that proportion rises to over 60%.

穷人中的家庭结构也在逐渐恶化。1965 年曾为林登·约翰逊总统那场“反贫困战争” 出力的丹尼尔·帕特里克·莫伊尼汉(Daniel Patrick Moyniha)警告黑人家庭结构面临着分 崩离析的危险。在他所著的《黑人家庭:需要举国行动的问题》一书里,他指出有四分之一 的黑人家庭是由女性当家,而有将近四分之一黑人儿童用当时的话来说是“私生儿” 。今天 美国所有族裔的平均未婚生育率已远远超过那个数字,将近 41%。而在未读完高中的白人 女性中这个比例要超过 60%。 You do what you can 尽力而为 Most poor children live in single-parent homes, and most families that are poor lack married parents. More than a third of families like Ms Hamilton?s—headed by a single mother, with no husband present—are poor, compared with fewer than one in fourteen families with married parents. Back in 1999 Isabel Sawhill, a poverty scholar at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, warned of “a bifurcation in children?s life prospects that threatens to divide the US into a society of haves and have-nots”—a bifurcation driven largely by the immense difference in life prospects between children born to rich or poor and to married or unmarried parents. 大多数贫困儿童都身处单身家庭中, 而大多数贫困家庭里的父母都没有结婚。 和汉密尔 顿女士的家庭类似, 主要经济来源是没有丈夫帮助的单身母亲的家庭有超过三分之一生活在 贫困线以下。 相较之下已婚父母家庭中贫困的比例不到十四分之一。 智囊组织布鲁金斯学院 的贫困问题学者伊萨贝尔·扫希尔(Isabel Sawhill)在 1999 年就警告说儿童前途的两极化 会把美国分裂成贫富两个群体。 这种两极化很大程度上是因为出生在贫穷和富裕家庭里的孩 子之间,或出生在父母已婚和单身父母家庭里的孩子之间在前途上存在着巨大差异。 It is not hard to see why marriage aids stability. Consider Ms Hamilton, whose husband is out of the picture. She has no family to fall back on. She has one sister living with multiple sclerosis and a bad heart in an apartment complex that does not allow overnight visitors. Her other sister, also in her 60s, has a husband who does not work and has had cancer for years; they just lost their house. Her son, fortunately, was past childhood when they fell into extreme poverty; had he been younger his future would have been bleaker. 婚姻对稳定生活有利这一点不难看出。看看汉密尔顿女士,她完全没有丈夫帮助。她也 没有任何可供依靠的亲人。她有一个姊妹患有多发性硬化症,而且心脏不好。她住的宿舍大 楼不允许客人过夜。她另一位姊妹也 60 多岁了,丈夫没有工作且罹患癌症多年,他们的房 子也刚刚被收走。幸运的是,汉密尔顿女士身陷极度贫困的时候她儿子已经长大,如果他年 纪再小一些,那贫困将会对他的未来产生更大的影响。 To see how marriage can help, consider Ms Dunham. Her situation is precarious, but without Mr Dunham at home to take care of the children it would be worse. She would have to spend more on child care. Her children would receive less supervision—Mr Dunham is fond of warning Ms Dunham?s 15-year-old son of the perils of “hardheadedness” and gang life, which he blames for his own failings. And though his work may be sporadic and informal, it can swell the family coffers. When Ms Sawhill refers to marriage as providing a “reserve army” for the family—an extra helper, an extra earner—this is what she means. 要想知道婚姻如何能够帮助克服贫困, 我们可以看看杜纳姆女士的例子。 她的情况并不 算好,但如果没有杜纳姆先生在家带孩子则可能会更糟。如果没有丈夫,她将不得不花钱在 托儿所上,而且她的孩子受到的看管也会更少。邓纳姆先生喜欢警告他们 15 岁的儿子“无

同情心”和加入帮会会带来多大的灾难。他把自己人生的失败归咎于这两点上。而且虽然邓 纳姆先生只能不定期地打点小工, 这些收入还是能够帮补到家用。 扫希尔女士称婚姻为家庭 的“预备军”就是指婚姻可以提供多一个帮手,多一份收入。 America is not blind nor indifferent to the problems of poverty, even if its rich and poor increasingly live separate lives in separate neighbourhoods, and with different social mores. The poor are helped by a number of programmes, some of them now creaking under the strain. The amount the federal government spends on food stamps hit a record $75.7 billion in the 2011 fiscal year—more than double the level of 2008. Enrolment in Medicaid, through which federal and state governments provide health care to low-income Americans, has grown every year since 2008, though its 2012 growth was the slowest since the recession began, and its spending grew at a lower level than enrolment because of federal and state cost-control measures. In 2011 states disbursed $113.3 billion in unemployment benefits to 9.9m recipients, as well as roughly $16.6 billion received in block grants as part of a federal programme called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. 虽然美国的穷人和富人越来越倾向于住在互不相干的社区内, 双方的习惯风俗也截然不 同,但美国并没有对贫困问题视而不见、或漫不关心。穷人受到数个政府项目的贴补,其中 一些更是因为资助金额过大而不堪重负。联邦政府花在食物券上的开支在 2011 财年达到创 纪录的 757 亿美元,是 2008 年开支的两倍有余。联邦和州级政府为低收入美国人提供的医 保计划-医疗补助的注册人数自 2008 年以来每年都有所上升。 不过 2012 年医疗补助注册人 数的增长是经济衰退以来最小的, 而且因为各种联邦和州级开支控制措施, 医疗补助的开支 增长并没有注册人数增长那么快。2011 年各州政府总共为 990 万名人士提供了总共 1133 亿 美元的失业补助。此外,做为联邦政府名为“贫困家庭临时救助”项目的一部份,各州政府 也已发放了联邦政府分配的总额 166 亿美元的综合拨款。 Hardly a hammock 和舒适沾不上边[注 5] That said, America is unusually reluctant, compared with other rich countries, about giving cash transfers to the poor. The country has a long-standing political aversion to anything that seems to “reward” being poor; instead, it fights poverty using a progressive, if somewhat paternalistic, tax code. The child tax credit allows families with incomes below a certain level ($110,000 for married parents filing jointly, or $75,000 for single-parent families) to claim a $1,000 credit against their federal income taxes for every dependent child. Though its reach extends into the solidly middle-class, its greatest impact is on the poor. Credits can often eliminate most of their tax liability (as it probably does in Ms Dunham?s case). 尽管如此,和其它富裕国家相比,美国对于向穷人提供现金补助特别抵触。美国长期以 来在政治上厌恶任何有“奖励”穷困倾向的措施,相反,美国一直靠累进[注 6](虽然可能 有点管得太宽)的税法来对抗贫困问题。儿童税收抵免[注 7]让收入在一定水平以下(共同 报税的已婚父母年收入在 11 万美元以下, 单亲家庭年收入在 7 万 5000 美元以下) 的家庭获 得每一个受抚养子女 1000 美元的联邦所得税抵免。虽然该抵免的收入门槛把很多收入不错 的中产家庭也包括在内, 但其对穷人的影响最大。 税收抵免一般可以抵消穷人大多数的税收 负担(杜纳姆女士很可能就是这种情况) 。 America?s most important tax-based cash-transfer programme is the earned income tax credit (EITC). It was originally enacted in 1975 as a means of encouraging the poor into the labour force,

and has been extended and expanded enthusiastically since by both parties, most recently by Mr Obama in 2009. Unlike most tax credits, the EITC is refundable. Its amount varies with income and the number of dependants, but it is a credit amounting to a percentage of a taxpayer?s earned income. When that credit exceeds a payer?s tax liability, the government refunds the difference. Its benefits skew overwhelmingly toward families: the most a single person can claim is around $500, while a married couple with three or more dependent children can receive $5,000 or more. In 2010 $55 billion was paid out through the EITC, and $23 billion for the child tax credit. 美国最重要的税收现金补助项目要数工作所得抵免(EITC) 。该抵免最早在 1975 年实 施,是一项鼓励穷人工作的措施。自那以后,两党政治家都对拓展该措施非常热心,最近一 次在 2009 年奥巴马总统拓宽了该措施的覆盖面。 和大多数税收抵免不同, EITC 是可退回的。 虽然该抵免的具体金额和收入及家里的受抚养人数相关, 但其金额大致还是纳税人工作收入 乘以某个百分比。 如果该税收抵免的金额超过了纳税人所有应交税款, 那么政府会反过来贴 补纳税人其间的差额。 其福利完全是针对家庭设计的, 单身人士最多只能获得大约 500 美元 的抵免,而一对已婚夫妇如果有三个或以上的受抚养子女,可以收到 5000 美元甚至更多的 抵免。 2010 年 EITC 总共支出的金额达 550 亿美元, 而儿童税收抵免则支出总共 230 亿美元。 A paper by Fabrizio Perri and Joe Steinberg at the Minneapolis Fed showed that during the recent crisis, while incomes in America?s bottom quintile fell by 30% relative to median-income levels and that quintile?s total wealth declined by 40%, their relative consumption levels remained constant. So anti-poverty programmes both cushioned the recession?s impact on the bottom 20% of American earners and helped prop up consumer spending. Redistribution may be a dirty word in American politics, but without it the recession would have been far more painful, not just for the poor, but for America?s economy generally. 明尼阿波利斯联邦储备银行的法布里奇奥· (Fabrizio Perri) 佩里 和乔· 斯坦因伯格 (Joe Steinberg)的论文显示在最近的金融危机中,美国收入最低的五分之一人群收入相对于美国 中位收入下跌了 30%,该人群的总财富值则下降了 40%,而他们的相对消费水平却基本没 变。因此扶贫计划不但缓解了经济衰退对美国收入最低的 20%人群的冲击,还帮助支撑了 消费者开支。 再分配这个词也许在美国政治中是禁语, 但如果没有再分配的话经济衰退本会 难熬得多。这不仅仅是就穷人而言,对美国整体经济来说也是如此。 Yet these programmes remain deeply unpopular with many in Congress. House Republicans have sought cuts to food stamps, and overwhelmingly supported a budget proposed by Paul Ryan that would have left anti-poverty programmes to bear the brunt of deep cuts to federal spending. None supported the president?s health-care reform, which was designed to make life easier for people like Ms Dunham and her family by offering Medicaid to people with earnings that exceed the poverty line by as much as a third (though the Supreme Court ruled that states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion, and indeed South Carolina?s governor has already vowed to do so). But the dangers are not purely partisan. Proposals to limit federal spending in order to reduce the deficit will squeeze all sorts of discretionary spending, quite possibly including successful anti-poverty programmes. And the poor, unlike other interest groups threatened by discretionary-spending cuts, have few lobbyists. 但在很多议员中这些项目依然很不受欢迎。共和党众议员一直希望能缩减食物券开支。 保罗·莱恩(Paul Ryan)提出的一项预算会让联邦开支缩减的重头落在扶贫项目上,该预 算收到了共和党众议员全面的支持。 没有一名共和党众议员支持奥巴马总统的医保改革, 该

改革试图通过让收入超出贫困线最多达三分之一的人士也可以获得医疗补助, 从而让杜纳姆 女士和其家人这样的人生活过得更好。 目前最高法院已宣判各州政府可以自行选择是否扩大 医疗补助覆盖范围, 而南卡罗来纳州的州长已经誓言他不会那么做。 但是目前的问题并不仅 仅是一个单纯的党派政见问题。 限制联邦开支以减少预算赤字的提议会缩减所有可支配开支 项目的预算, 这很有可能会祸及一些非常成功的扶贫项目。 而穷人和其他可能受到可支配开 支缩减影响的利益群体不同,背后几乎没有游说力量为其说话。 As for Sumter?s poor, the signs are not entirely hopeless. A tyre company has begun building a $500m factory that is forecast to employ 1,600 people in Sumter County. Shaw Air Force Base, on Sumter?s western edge, welcomed the 15,000-strong Third Army last year. And Mr Dunham is preparing for the Christmas season by repeatedly assembling and taking apart a purple bicycle on his front porch. He hopes to start a business assembling boxed gifts and furniture. He wants to call it “If I Had a Hammer”. The work will be seasonal, sporadic and informal, but it will be work, and it will be welcome. 至于苏姆特镇的穷人嘛,迹象显示未来还不是完全绝望。一间轮胎公司已经开始斥资 5 亿美元在当地建造工厂,该工厂在整个苏姆特县预计将能雇用 1600 名员工。位于苏姆特市 郊西缘的肖空军基地去年成为美国陆军中央司令部[注 8]总部,迎来了 15000 多人。杜纳姆 先生在家门前反复拆装一辆紫色自行车为圣诞季节的到来做准备。 他想要开一个专门替人组 装礼物和家具的公司,而且已经为公司想好名字-“如果我有锤子” 。这项业务将会是季节 性的,工作会时有时无,而且不能算是正职。但说到底这还是一份工作,只要是工作,他们 是无任欢迎的。

【1】 - Lyndon B. Johnson,美国第 36 任总统,1963 年至 1969 年间在任,民主党。他提 出伟大社会(Great Society)这一概念,提出一个伟大社会不仅只取决于富裕和国力,也要 看如贫困、饥饿、教育这样社会问题的解决程度。在民权、扶贫、福利、环保、教育等多方 面进行改革,是自罗斯福新政以来最大的社会改革。其中反贫困战争(War on Poverty)是 其中的很大一部分,包括各种扶贫立法。 【2】 - 这段所有列出的政治家都为共和党人。 因为共和党在意识形态上倾向于自由市场, 对于政府补助穷人有很多顾虑。这里是突出显示过去连共和党人也对贫困问题非常关注。 【3】 - Discretionary spending, 可支配开支, 指美国政府预算中每年需要国会批准的部分。 和不需要批准,每年自动生效的 mandatory spending(主要是老年人医保和社会保障)相对。 大部份如国防、教育、科研、交通的经费中有部分属于可支配,部分是强制开支。大多社会 项目(如扶贫)是属于可支配开支。因为两党对于如何减少赤字争执不下,可支配开支往往 是开支缩减的牺牲品。 【4】 - Sunbelt,阳光地带,指美国南端日照充沛、气候温暖的地区,从西边的加州南部 至东边的佛罗里达横跨美国。 【5】 - 这里是反驳美国右翼谴责社会宝保障?网?(social safety net)已经变成了一张舒适 的吊床(a comfortable hammock) ,让穷人不需工作也可以坐啃政府这一言论。

【6】 - progressive tax,累进税,和 regressive(累退)相对,指越富则税率越高的税制, 现代一般所得税都是累进的,收入越高,所交税占收入比例也越高。因为这类税对富人负担 最大, 而税收使用又会惠及穷人, 因此可以起到财富再分配的作用, 也称为 redistributive tax。 【7】 - tax credit, 税收抵免, 即应交税款中可以抵销一部份。 如抵免 1000 美元可少交 1000 美元的税。有的抵免是可退回的(refundable) ,即如果税款完全抵消还有剩余,政府还会倒 贴你钱,不过这种抵免非常罕见。 【8】 - Third Army,美国陆军中央司令部(United States Army Central)的别称。是美国陆 军下的一个司令部,也是美军中央司令部的陆军支部。主要负责中东、北非和中亚地区,尤 其是伊拉克和阿富汗。


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