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N·格里高利·曼昆的博客

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祝我生日快乐  

2008-02-04 04:41:14|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Sunday, February 03, 2008
Happy Birthday to Me
祝我生日快乐
由阳光下的Yoyo翻译

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2008/02/happy-birthday-to-me.html


My article in today's NY Times.
我今天在《纽约时报》上发表的文章
 
祝我生日快乐 - 曼昆 - N·格里高利·曼昆的博客

My Birthday Wish: Not Burdening Our Children
By N. GREGORY MANKIW
Published: February 3, 2008
我的生日愿望:不要给我们的孩子增加负担
N·格里高利·曼昆 著
发表:2008年2月3日

IT’S official. As of today, at 6 a.m.,I am a half-centuryold.
Special thanks go to my mom for bringing me
into the world back in 1958 and for looking after me all theseyears.
But she doesn’t need to worry about me anymore. My welfare nowfalls
within the mission statement of AARP.


正式的来说,截止到今天早上6点。我已经50岁了。
特别感谢我的母亲在1958年把我带到这个世界上来在这些年来一直照顾我。
不过她现在不用再担心我了。我开始享受AARP(AmericanAssociation of RetiredPeople,美国退休人员协会)的福利了。


David G. Klein
Some years ago, I read on a birthday card that you know you are oldwhen youspend more time thinking about money than sex. If so, weeconomists must age prematurely. After all, it’s our job to thinkabout money, both our own and other people’s. As I reach thisparticular milestone, it is hard not be worried about the economy.No, I am not talking about the subprime meltdown and the possiblerecession that looms on the horizon.

几年前,我在一张生日卡上读到:“当你会用更多的时间思考金钱而不是性时候,那你已经老了。假如这样的话,我们这些经济学家一定是早熟的。
毕竟,思考金钱是我们的工作,不管那些钱是属于我们自己的还是属于别人的。
当我到达这个特殊的里程碑时,很难不为经济担心。
不,我并不在说垮台的次级房债和可能到来的全球性经济不景气。


I am confident that the team at the Federal Reserve can containthat problem.Moreover, from the broad vantage point of history, thenext recession,whenever it occurs, will likely be a minor blip. Myguess is that it will be similar to the recession that wasenveloping the economy the day I was born.Don’t remember therecession of 1957-58? Most people don’t.It was a garden-varietyslump — painful to those who lived through it,but short-lived andleaving few lasting scars.
Today it is remembered only by the few experts who crunch thenumbers in thestudy of macroeconomic history. My parents’recession is not my problem, and our next recession will notconcern our children when they reach adulthood.

我有信心美联储的团队可以控制这个问题。此外,从历史的角度来看,下一次的经济衰退,无论它何时发生,只会象一个雷达上的小点一样。我的猜想是未来的经济不景气会和我出生时的那次经济不景气的状况相似。还记得1957到1958年的经济衰退吗?大部分人已经不记得了。那是一次普通的衰退——但是,对于那些经历过的人来说是痛苦的,不过它只是昙花一现,仅留下了几个持续性的伤疤。如今只有那些研究宏观经济史中大量数据的专家才记得它。我父母那时的经济衰退不是我的问题,同样我们下一次的经济衰退也应与我们步入成年期的孩子无关。

What worry me are the problems that we will bequeathto our children. Long before I was born, Franklin D.Rooseveltestablished a compact among the generations. Families had longcared for their elderly members, but Roosevelt federalized thatresponsibility in the form of the Social Security system. SocialSecurity is sometimes viewed as a pension plan, but it is mostlypay-as-you-go. The working-age population taxes itself to supportits parents, in the hope and expectation that its children will dothe same. On the day of my birth in 1958, the payroll tax to payfor this program, including both the employer and employee shares,was 4.5 percent.
我所担心的是我们将遗留给我们的孩子的问题。早在我出生以前,富兰克林·D·罗斯福建立了一个几代人之间的契约。家庭长期照顾年长的成员,但是罗斯福统一了社会保障体系。社会保障有时被看作一种养老金计划,但是确切地说是一个正在支付的账单。在工作年龄的人口自己缴税来供养他们的父母,希望和期待着他们的孩子也会做同样的事情。在1958年我出生的那一天,由雇主和雇员共同分担支付这个计划的工资税为4.5%。
Around the time I started grade school, Lyndon B.Johnsonexpanded the generational compact to include health care for theelderly. The Medicare system increased the payroll tax, but onlymodestly at first. Health care technology was far more primitiveback then and, as a result, less expensive. By 1968, when, like myyounger son today, I was in third grade, the payroll tax for bothprograms had risen to 8.8 percent. Today, the payroll tax for theseprograms is 15.3 percent, far higher than the programs’ creatorsever imagined.
More worrisome is that this 15.3 percent is nowhere near enough tomaintain solvency in the future. When my generation of baby boomersretires in large numbers and starts claiming benefits, spending onthese programs will far outstrip revenue at the current taxrate.

当我开始上小学的时候,林登·B·约翰逊将这个契约扩大到包括给老年人的健康保健。美国医疗保险制度系统增加了工资税,不过起初只是很少量地。那时的健康保健技术还十分原始,于是也就相对便宜。从1968年开始,像我现在的小儿子,我上三年级时,给这两个计划的所得税税率已经达到8.8%。如今,给这些计划的所得税税率已经达到15.3%,远远超过这些计划的制定者所能想象的。更多的忧虑是15.3%远远不能达到未来的赡养偿付能力。当和我一样在婴儿出生潮时出生一代人大量退休并且开始要求权益的时候,花费在这些项目上的钱将会远远超过依照当前税率征税所获得的收入。

Two problems are working in concert. The first isdemographic. Because people are having fewer children and livinglonger than past generations, the number of working-age peoplesupporting each elderly person has fallen and will continue tofall.(But I am doing my part to fix this: I have three children.)The second problem is that the cost of health care has risensignificantly and is expected to continue rising. From oneperspective, these problems are really blessings. Life expectancyin the United States has risen by about eight years over mylifetime — a fact that I appreciate more with every passingyear.

两个问题同时产生。第一个问题是人口分布上的。因为人们生的孩子越来越少,且寿命比上一代更长,所以处于工作年龄的人口数量将会下降并将持续下降,而他们的工资税是用于支付每位老人退休金的。(但是我尽我的力量改善它:我有三个孩子)第二个问题是健康保健的花费大幅增加并有可能会继续增加。从某个角度上说,这些问题也的确有好的一面。美国的平均寿命在我有生之年已经增长了近八岁——这是在近几年来让我感激的一个事实。

Part of this improvement is attributable totechnological advances in medicine, which sadly do not come cheap.But they are worth it nonetheless. I doubt that many people wouldgive up modern health care at today’s prices in exchange for 1958health care at 1958 prices. THE big question for the green-eyeshadecrowd is how to pay for these blessings. It is an issue that nopresidential candidate has taken up in earnest.
部分的改进归功于医学方面的技术进步,但令人伤心的是价格并没有变便宜。但是虽然如此,它们却是值得的。我怀疑很多人会更愿意用1958年的价格获得1958年时的健康护理,而不是用今天这个价格来获得现代的健康护理。对于工薪阶层的人来说,现在最大的问题是如何回报这些好处。然而没有一个总统候选人认真对待了这样一个问题。

Republican
candidates are fond of saying we should cut taxrates because doing so would incentivize more rapid economic growth(true) and raise  tax revenue (wishfulthinking).
共和党候选人倾向于说我们应该降低税率因为这样做可以刺激经济更快增长(确实如此)并且提高税收收入(一厢情愿的想法)。

But unless we figure out a politically acceptable way to reduce thebenefits now promised to future retirees, taxes are going up in thecoming decades. The national debate will have to shift from whichtax cuts do the most good to which tax increases do the leastharm.
但是除非我们指出一条政治上可接受的方式,来降低现在对未来退休者承诺的收益,否则税收在接下来的十年内会继续增长。国家性争论的焦点将不得不从减少税收带来的最大好处转移到增加税收的最少坏处上去。

Democratic candidates like to talk about expanding the socialsafety net with universal health insurance. But they blithelyignore the fact that the safety net we already have was bought oncredit and that the bill is almost due.The Democrats claim fiscalresponsibility by advocating taxes on the rich,but the numbersdon’t back up the rhetoric.
民主党候选人喜欢谈论利用全面的健康保险来扩大社会安全网。但是他们轻率地忽略了这样一个事实,我们现有的社会安全体系就是靠赊账买回来的,而且这张账单已经快要到期了。民主党主张他们多向富人收税的财政责任,但是数据并不支持他们华丽的设想。

The campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, wants to raiseincome taxes for those making more than $200,000 a year. Even bythe campaign’s own reckoning, however, this tax increase wouldbring in only $52 billion a year — a mere one-third of 1 percentof G.D.P. And if higher taxes on society’s most productivemembers
discourage economic growth,even this tiny number is an overestimate.
以希拉里·克林顿的竞选活动为例,她想要提高对那些每年收入超过20万美元的人群征收的所得税。然而即使依据竞选运动自身的计算,这个增加的税收也只会带来520亿美元一年的收益——仅仅占国民生产总值的1%的三分之一。如果向社会生产率最高的成员更多得收税,会阻碍经济的发展,即便我们高估了这一小部分人。

Inside the Beltway, meanwhile,in a rare outbreak of election-yearbipartisanship,checks are being prepared to send to votersnationwide. If all goes as planned,a few months before the Novemberelections, a typical family of four will get a windfall of $1,800.Whether the economy needs a short-run fiscal stimulus isdebatable.But there’s no doubt the stimulus will add to thenational debt we are passing on to future generations of taxpayers.
与此同时,在政治圈里,一个罕见的大选年的两党合作中,多张支票准备送给国内的支持者。如果一切如计划进行,在11月大选的几个月前,一个典型的四口之家将会得到一笔1800美元的横财。经济是否需要一个短期的税收刺激是值得商榷的。但是毫无疑问的是,这个刺激将会成为我们留给下一代纳税人的又一国家债务。
注:beltway是指(环绕城市或某一地区的)环形公路,常常被作为华盛顿首府社交政治圈(Beltway)的代名词。


My birthday wish is for all of us to stop asking what thegovernment can do for us today.Instead, we should focus on what wecan do together to prepare the economy for our children andgrandchildren. That means getting ready to care more for ourselvesin old age, perhaps by retiring later, perhaps by saving more. Ihope that when I celebrate my 100th birthday in 2058, mydescendants won’t look upon Grandpa and his generation as thebiggest economic problem of their time.
我的生日愿望是让我们所有人停止质问政府现在可以为我们做什么。相反,我们应该把焦点放在我们能一起为我们的孩子和孙子做什么。这意味着为我们老了之后做准备,或许通过推迟退休,或许通过更多地储蓄。我希望当我在2058年庆祝一百岁生日时,我的子孙不会把他们的爷爷和那一代人当做他们时代的最大经济问题。

N.Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard. He was anadviser to President Bush and is advising Mitt Romney, the formergovernor of Massachusetts, in the campaign for the Republicanpresidential nomination.
N·格里高利·曼昆是一名哈佛大学的经济学教授。他曾担任布什总统的顾问,也曾是MittRomney(罗姆尼,马萨诸塞州的前州长)竞选共和党总统候选人提名的顾问。
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