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我为什么选择离开大城市回老家

更新时间:2017-3-22 19:25:46 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why I’m Moving Home
我为什么选择离开大城市回老家

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In recent months, I’ve frequently found myself in places hit hard by manufacturing job losses, speaking to people affected in various ways. Sometimes, the conversation turns to the conflict people feel between the love of their home and the desire to leave in search of better work.

俄亥俄州哥伦布市——最近几个月,我经常到一些制造业失业状况比较严重的地方,通过各种方式与受影响的人交谈。有时候,这种交谈归结到了一种冲突上,一方面人们热爱自己的家乡,另一方面又渴望离开家乡,寻找更好的工作机会。

It’s a conflict I know well: I left my home state, Ohio, for the Marine Corps when I was 19. And while I’ve returned home for months or even years at a time, job opportunities often pull me away.

我很清楚这种冲突:我19岁时离开家乡俄亥俄州,加入了海军陆战队。虽然后来我也曾回到老家待上几个月甚至几年,但常常会为了工作机会而离开。

Experts have warned for years now that our rates of geographic mobility have fallen to troubling lows. Given that some areas have unemployment rates around 2 percent and others many times that, this lack of movement may mean joblessness for those who could otherwise work.

专家们多年来一直警告说,美国的地域流动率已经下降到了令人不安的低点。鉴于某些地区的失业率在2%左右,另一些地方则是这个数字的好几倍,缺乏流动性可能意味着有些人本来可以找到工作,但却处在失业状态。

But from the community’s perspective, mobility can be a problem. The economist Matthew Kahn has shown that in Appalachia, for instance, the highly skilled are much likelier to leave not just their hometowns but also the region as a whole. This is the classic “brain drain” problem: Those who are able to leave very often do.

但从社区的角度来看,流动性可能会造成问题。经济学家马修·卡恩(Matthew Kahn)表示,比如在阿巴拉契亚地区,高技能工人不仅要离开家乡,而且要离开整个地区,才能找到工作。这是典型的“人才流失”问题:能够离开的人,常常会选择离开。

The brain drain also encourages a uniquely modern form of cultural detachment. Eventually, the young people who’ve moved out marry — typically to partners with similar economic prospects. They raise children in increasingly segregated neighborhoods, giving rise to something the conservative scholar Charles Murray calls “super ZIPs.” These super ZIPs are veritable bastions of opportunity and optimism, places where divorce and joblessness are rare.

人才流失也推动了一种独特的、现代形式的文化疏离。因为这些离开的年轻人会结婚——通常他们的配偶也具有相似经济前景。他们在日益隔离的社区中抚养孩子,推动了保守派学者查尔斯·默里(Charles Murray)所说的“超级邮编”(Super ZIP)区域的形成。它们是机会和乐观的真正堡垒,离婚和失业在这样的地方很少见。

As one of my college professors recently told me about higher education, “The sociological role we play is to suck talent out of small towns and redistribute it to big cities.” There have always been regional and class inequalities in our society, but the data tells us that we’re living through a unique period of segregation.

我的一位大学教授最近在谈到高等教育时对我说,“我们所扮演的社会角色,就是把人才从小城镇吸引来,把他们重新分配到大城市。”我们的社会一直存在地域和阶级上的不平等,但数据显示,我们现在处在一个独特的隔离时期。

This has consequences beyond the purely material. Jesse Sussell and James A. Thomson of the RAND Corporation argue that this geographic sorting has heightened the polarization that now animates politics. This polarization reflects itself not just in our voting patterns, but also in our political culture: Not long before the election, a friend forwarded me a conspiracy theory about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in a pedophilia ring and asked me whether it was true.

其后果不仅仅是物质上的。兰德公司(RAND Corporation)的杰西·苏塞尔(Jesse Sussell)和詹姆斯·A·汤森(James A. Thomson)认为,这种地理上的分流,突显了牵动当今政治局面的两极分化。而两极分化不仅体现在我们的投票趋势中,也反映在我们的政治文化中:就在大选之前不久,一位朋友转发给我一篇帖子,内容是比尔和希拉里·克林顿参与一个娈童团伙的阴谋论,朋友问我这是不是真的。

It’s easy to dismiss these questions as the ramblings of “fake news” consumers. But the more difficult truth is that people naturally trust the people they know — their friend sharing a story on Facebook — more than strangers who work for faraway institutions. And when we’re surrounded by polarized, ideologically homogeneous crowds, whether online or off, it becomes easier to believe bizarre things about them. This problem runs in both directions: I’ve heard ugly words uttered about “flyover country” and some of its inhabitants from well-educated, generally well-meaning people.

把这些问题看成是“假新闻”消费者的胡话,倒是很容易。但更棘手的事实是,人们通常更愿意相信他们认识的人——他们的朋友在Facebook上分享的帖子——而不是为某个遥远的机构工作的陌生人。当我们被极化的、意识形态同质化的人群包围时,无论是在网上还是网下,我们都会变得更容易相信一些关于他们的奇怪事情。这个问题是双向的:我听到一些受过良好教育、通常心怀善意的人,说起那些“鸟不拉屎的地方”及其居民时话非常难听。

I’ve long worried whether I’ve become a part of this problem. For two years, I’d lived in Silicon Valley, surrounded by other highly educated transplants with seemingly perfect lives. It’s jarring to live in a world where every person feels his life will only get better when you came from a world where many rightfully believe that things have become worse. And I’ve suspected that this optimism blinds many in Silicon Valley to the real struggles in other parts of the country. So I decided to move home, to Ohio.

我长期担心自己是否已经也陷入了这个问题。我在硅谷住了两年,周围是其他受过高等教育的外来者,拥有看似完美的生活。当你生活在每个人都觉得生活只会越来越好的地方,而你来自很多人都有正当理由相信事情只会变糟的地方时,那感觉是很矛盾的。我怀疑,这种乐观蒙住了硅谷的眼睛,让他们对美国其他地方真实的挣扎视而不见。所以我决定搬回俄亥俄州老家。

It wasn’t an easy choice. I scaled back my commitments to a job I love because of the relocation. My wife and I worry about the quality of local public schools, and whether she (a San Diego native) could stand the unpredictable weather.

这并不是一个容易的选择。我热爱自己的工作,由于搬家,我放在工作上的精力就要减少。而且妻子和我都担心当地公立学校的教学质量,以及她(圣地亚哥本地人)是否能够忍受不可预测的天气。

But there were practical reasons to move: I’m founding an organization to combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic. We chose Columbus because I travel a lot, and I need to be centrally located in the state and close to an airport. And the truth is that not every motivation is rational: Part of me loves Ohio simply because it’s home.

但搬家的决定也有一些很实际的理由:我当时正在成立一个组织,要和俄亥俄州阿片类药物泛滥的现象做斗争。我选择了哥伦布市,因为我经常旅行,需要住在这个州的中心,靠近机场的位置。但并不是所有动机都是理性的:从某个角度来说,我爱俄亥俄,仅仅因为它是我的家。

I recently asked a friend, Ami Vitori Kimener, how she thought about her own return home. A Georgetown graduate, Ami left a successful career in Washington to start new businesses in Middletown, Ohio. Middletown is in some ways a classic Midwestern city: Once thriving, it was hit hard by the decline of the region’s manufacturing base in recent decades. But the town is showing early signs of revitalization, thanks in part to the efforts of those like Ami.

最近我问一个朋友艾米·菲特丽·科曼纳(Ami Vitori Kimener),她是怎么考虑回老家的。她毕业于乔治城大学,在华盛顿的职业生涯很成功,但她回到俄亥俄州的米德尔敦开拓新生意。从某种程度上说,米德尔敦是一个典型的中西部城市:曾经蓬勃发展过,但近几十年来,该地区制造业基地的衰落给当地人带来了沉重打击。但是,该市显示了复苏的一些早期迹象,这部分上要归功于艾米这样的人。

Talking with Ami, I realized that we often frame civic responsibility in terms of government taxes and transfer payments, so that our society’s least fortunate families are able to provide basic necessities. But this focus can miss something important: that what many communities need most is not just financial support, but talent and energy and committed citizens to build viable businesses and other civic institutions.

在和艾米交谈时,我意识到,当我们提到公民责任时,经常是从政府税收和转移支付的角度来说的,目的是让社会中最不幸的家庭能够获得基本的必需品。但是,完全聚焦在这个侧重点上可能会遗漏其他一些重要的事情:很多社区最需要的不仅仅是财政支持,还需要人才、精力和忠实的市民,来创建有活力的企业和其他民间机构。

Of course, not every town can or should be saved. Many people should leave struggling places in search of economic opportunity, and many of them won’t be able to return. Some people will move back to their hometowns; others, like me, will move back to their home state. The calculation will undoubtedly differ for each person, as it should. But those of us who are lucky enough to choose where we live would do well to ask ourselves, as part of that calculation, whether the choices we make for ourselves are necessarily the best for our home communities — and for the country.

当然,并不是每一个城镇都能够或者应该被拯救。很多人应该离开陷入困境的地方去寻找经济机会,其中许多人将无法返回。但是有些人会回到家乡,就像我一样。无论如何,每个人对得失的权衡肯定都是不同的。但是,那些可以选择居住地的幸运者,不妨在进行得失权衡的时候自问一下:我们为自己做出的选择,对我们的社区以及国家来说,是否也是最好的选择。

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