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澳大利亚梦的终结?

更新时间:2017-5-3 18:17:32 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The End of the Australian Dream?
澳大利亚梦的终结?

SYDNEY, Australia — Let me tell you a fairy tale called Australia. Despite what you may have heard about snakes and spiders and sharks, the remarkable thing about Australia is not its danger but its safety. At its best, this is a peaceful nation, with health care and education for almost everyone, that has enjoyed over the past two decades the longest period of economic expansion of any developed country in modern history. Our cities are regularly judged to be among the most livable in the world.

澳大利亚悉尼——让我给你讲一个名叫澳大利亚的童话故事。尽管你可能听人谈起过蛇、蜘蛛和鲨鱼,但澳大利亚非凡的地方不在于它的危险,而是它的安全。在最好的时期,这是一个和平的国度,几乎所有人都可以享受医保和教育,而且在过去二十年,这里实现了近代史上发达国家中持续最久的经济扩张。我们的城市也往往被认为属于世界上最宜居住的地方。

But we are in danger of stuffing it up, which is an Australian way of saying we may be ruining it all.

但我们现在有可能会“卡住”,这是澳大利亚人说法,意思是我们可能会毁掉一切。

In the past 20 years, Australia has become a nation where getting ahead is a national obsession, partly because we have come to expect a world where the natural course of events is to become a little bit richer each year. The winnings of our repeated economic booms have been squandered on inflationary policies that fuel the rat race.

在过去的20年里,澳大利亚举国上下陷入了对发展的痴迷,部分原因在于我们开始认为,每年都比之前更富有一些应该是一种自然规律。我们多次取得的经济繁荣的成果,被助推这场疯狂竞争的通货膨胀政策糟蹋了。

What we are discovering is that when you have a nation full of people trying to get to the top, eventually most of the population is forced to run just to keep up. Our enviable quality of life is at risk.

我们发现,当一个国家满是努力争上游的人时,最终大多数人都会被逼着跑起来,好跟上这脚步。但我们令人羡慕的生活品质便危在旦夕。

Consider what has happened with the housing market, Australia being a country where real estate is not just a place to live but a ticket to prosperity and a statement of taste and values.

想想住房市场发生的事,澳大利亚在成为这样一个国家,在那里房产不只是居住的地方,而是通往富足的门票,是品味与价值的证明。

Generous tax breaks for homeowners and real estate investors have fueled the market to the point where the median price of a house in Sydney, our largest metropolis, is $1.1 million Australian dollars, or about $824,000. An entire genre of newspaper writing is dedicated to telling Australians what they could buy for the same money in other parts of the world — a small chateau in the South of France, even an apartment in Manhattan, for the price of an ugly brick house 40 minutes’ drive from the center of the city. We watch shows like “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” and laugh.

给房主和房地产投资者提供的慷慨税惠政策助推这个市场走到这一步:在我们最大的城市悉尼,房价中位数已经达到110万澳元(约合570万人民币)。有一整类新闻写作在致力于告诉澳大利亚人,他们用同样的钱可以在世界其他地方买到什么——用来买一座距离悉尼市中心40分钟车程的丑陋砖房的钱,可以在法国南部买一座小城堡,甚至在曼哈顿买一套公寓。《洛杉矶百万豪宅》(Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles)这样的节目让我们发笑。

So even though Australians do not have to put aside many hundreds of thousands of dollars for college degrees, or tens of thousands of dollars for health insurance, we are still in huge debt through our mortgages. Australia has some of the highest household debt in the world, especially if you compare our debt to our incomes and G.D.P. We are poised for disaster if there is a serious economic downturn.

所以就算澳大利亚人不必存用来上大学的几十万美元,不用留出几万美元买医疗保险,也依然通过抵押贷款背上了巨债。澳大利亚是世界上家庭债务最沉重的国家之一,尤其是将我们的债务与收入和国内生产总值比起来。如果澳大利亚出现严重的经济衰退,我们将遭遇灾难。

Even for those lucky enough to own their own home, there is a fool’s-gold feel to this property boom. After all, if you own a three-bedroom house five miles from the city and it increases in value by 50 percent, that means you still have only enough money to buy a three-bedroom house five miles from the city. This is not so much rising wealth as glorified inflation.

即便是对那些足够幸运有自己房子的人而言,这种房地产繁荣也像是“愚人金”。毕竟,如果你拥有一座距离市中心5英里远的三居室,它增值了50%,那意味着你的钱也还是只够买一座距离城市5英里远的三居房子。这不是财富增值,更像是虚浮的通胀。

And for those who are not owners? The property boom is dividing the nation along lines of age and class. For young people, property prices represent dashed hopes and a looming intergenerational battle.

对那些并没有房子的人来说呢?房地产繁荣在将这个国家以年龄和阶级进行划分。对年轻人而言,房产价格代表着破灭的希望和一场正在逼近的代际之争。

Consider a recent furor when an older demographer suggested in jest that young people would be better able to save for a house were they not wasting their money buying avocado toast at hipster cafes.

想想最近一位年长的人口学家的一句玩笑话引发的愤怒——他说如果年轻人不把钱浪费在去时髦咖啡馆买牛油果吐司,就能更好地存钱买房了。

It is a familiar line of attack here, young people being told to stop wasting their money at cafes. No matter that you would need to forgo 31,429 flat whites to pay a 10 percent deposit on the typical home in Sydney.

这样的攻击在这里很常见,年轻人被告知不要把钱浪费在咖啡馆里。尽管悉尼一座普通住宅的10%定金,够你买31429杯馥芮白。

Millennials, sick of being told that they don’t know how good they have it, may well point out that Australia is home to some of the most spoiled baby boomers in the world. Many retirees divide their time between cruise holidays overseas and subsidized medical appointments here, all the time complaining that it is the young people who don’t realize how good they have it.

千禧一代厌倦了听到别人说,你们不晓得自己有多幸运,他们很可能会指出,澳大利亚生活着世界上被惯得最厉害的婴儿潮世代。在这里,很多退休人士要么乘游艇在海外度假,要么在国内用补贴医疗看病,他们却一直抱怨是年轻人没有意识到自己有多幸运。

Aside from tax policies that encourage speculation, other policies show successive governments have been fueling a rat race when they should have been building a society. Over the past two decades, federal government funding of private schools has expanded, including to those with very high fees and swimming pool complexes, beautiful gardens and performing arts centers, further dividing the country. Many middle-class parents have become anxious about sending children to the local public high school out of fear that they will lag behind their peers at schools that are expensive or academically selective.

除了鼓励投机的税收政策,还有其他政策显示出历届政府在本应建设社会的时候,却在助推一场疯狂的竞赛。在过去二十年里,联邦政府对私立学校的资助在增长,包括给那些有着极其昂贵学费、泳池场馆、美丽花园和表演艺术中心的学校提供的资助,由此令这个国家进一步分化。许多中产阶级父母开始对送孩子去本地的公立高中产生担忧,因为他们害怕自己的孩子会落后于费用昂贵或入学成绩门槛高的学校里的同龄人。

We need to rediscover our egalitarian roots. It is true that Australian culture can be anti-intellectual. We can deride achievement and cut down those who succeed, in a phenomenon we call tall poppy syndrome. But the egalitarian values of our society should not be discounted. In fact, it is on the matter of egalitarianism that Australia has made some of its most important intellectual contributions to the world.

我们需要重获自身的平等主义根基。澳大利亚文化的确有可能变得反智。在一种被称为高罂粟综合征(或说仇富症)的现象中,我们有可能嘲笑成就,打压那些取得成功的人。但不能因此便将我们社会的平等主义价值观弃之不顾。实际上,正是在平等主义的问题上,澳大利亚曾经对这个世界做出过一些最重要的智慧贡献。

Australia was one of the first countries to institute a living minimum wage, in a famous court case back in 1907 regarding the employees of the Sunshine Harvester Works. The court decided that an unskilled worker should be paid enough to meet the needs of “a human being living in a civilized community,” which included keeping his family in “frugal comfort.”

澳大利亚是最早实行最低生活工资的国家之一,那是在1907年一起有关阳光收割机工厂(Sunshine Harvester Works)雇员的知名诉讼案件中。法院裁定一名不熟练的工人应该被支付足够的工资,以满足“一个在文明社会生存的人”的需求,包括让他的家人享受到“最基本的舒适生活”。

The cultural effects of this decision, the idea that every worker should have a decent standard of living, have been at least as great as the legal ramifications.

这项裁决的文化影响,以及每个工人都应该达到一种体面的生活标准的观念,就算不比它带来的法律成果更重大,也旗鼓相当。

Australia enjoys a relatively high minimum wage today of 17.70 Australian dollars, or about $13.25, per hour. We have so far avoided the hollowing out of the middle class suffered by other countries like the United States. Australia has one of the world’s highest percentages of middle-class people, with about 56 percent of the population falling into this category, according to a 2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report.

如今,澳大利亚拥有相对比较高的最低工资,即每小时17.7澳元(约合92人民币)。截止目前,我们没有出现美国等其他国家遭遇的中产阶级空心化问题。瑞士信贷(Credit Suisse)发布的《2016年全球财富报告》(Global Wealth Report)显示,澳大利亚是世界上中产阶级比例最高的国家之一,有大约56%的人口属于这一阶层。

Egalitarianism has been a major contributing factor to the quality of life we enjoy in our society, including for those who are better off. We have low crime rates. Few of us fear that medical bills will lead to bankruptcy as we have universal health care. Our university fees are rising, but we can pay the money back to the government over time, and only once we are earning a decent wage.

平等主义一直是我们在社会中享受的这种生活品质的重要促进因素,对那些富裕阶层而言也是如此。我们国家犯罪率比较低。很少有人担心需要支付的医疗账单会让自己破产,因为我们有全民医保。我们的大学学费在增长,但我们可以在以后把钱还给政府,一旦我们开始拿到像样的工资。

We need to remember what makes Australia a fairy tale and protect it.

我们需要记住是什么让澳大利亚成为一个童话,并用心保护它。

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