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弗里德曼:对不起孩子,我们把未来吃光了

2013-10-21 11:55:18

政府停摆的危机终会消退。两党也终会再次尝试在税收、投资和福利上达成协议。不过,我敢打包票,这种谈判产生的一个后果将是:老年人、华尔街和工会统统会拥有发言权,并让他们各自的利益得到保护。那么,最可能的结果是小规模的修修补补,因为一旦有人指责“拿老人开刀来弥补赤字”或是让“死亡陪审团”来裁定如何合理分配临终医疗,我们的政坛人士就会一溜烟地跑掉。这一次能有什么不同吗?在没有经济崩溃的威胁时,只有一样东西可能催生有意义的变革,那就是一场有关税收、开支和福利改革的民众运动,而领导者应是组织性最弱却会被短视思维影响最深的人——今天的年轻人。

不管年轻人有没有意识到这一点,他们才是我们拖延问题的真正受害者。等我们婴儿潮一代都退休了——现在的速度是每天退休7000到1.1万人,如果目前的税收和福利制度不变,那就不会留下多少给今天的Facebook世代。不过,有多大的可能性看到他们从Facebook中抽身,来到父母面前,不仅要求富人尽其责,还要求上一代整体给这一代留下财富?真可惜,年轻人根本不关心。但是,果真如此吗?

等一下!是谁在向伯克利(Berkeley)、斯坦福(Stanford)、布朗(Brown)、南加大(USC)、鲍登学院(Bowdoin)、圣母大学(Notre Dame)和纽约大学(NYU)成群的学生演讲,敦促这些“未来的老年人”展开保护自身权益的运动?他就是因预测次贷泡沫破裂而大赚一笔的传奇投资人斯坦·德鲁肯米勒(Stan Druckenmiller),而相伴左右的常常是哈莱姆儿童社区组织(Harlem Children’s Zone)的主席杰弗里·卡纳达(Geoffrey Canada)。德鲁肯米勒是该组织最大的资助者。不过,他们二人为何要举办米克·贾格尔(Mick Jagger)式的校园巡回活动,既不唱歌也不跳舞,只是向一群年轻人展示,假如当前的税收、增长率、国防开支和福利制度保持不变,他们就会遭受严重打击?

上周在圣母大学,面对异常拥挤的人群,德鲁肯米勒说,“我们这代人,我们60年代把总统拉下了马,因为我们不想与越南打仗。人们都说,年轻人不投票;年轻人不在乎。我希望,过了今晚,你们会在乎。你们和后代都面临着显而易见的危险。”

每当(我的朋友)德鲁肯米勒受到同样来参会的老年人质疑,他这是企图挑起代际战争的时候,他都会给出一个标准答案:“不,战争已经开始了,孩子们输了。我们不过是想给他们拿回一些残羹冷炙。”

两人用一个接一个的图表说明以下问题:自20世纪60年代以来,政府开支、投资、福利及扶贫项目为年长者带来大量好处;由于从现在到2050年,65岁以上的人口将翻一番,而需要赡养老人的18岁至64岁的劳动人口的增长率只有17%,情况只会变得更糟。这种不平衡将会致使年轻人身负重担,而且在经济增长较慢的情况下,这将迫使政府削减对基础设施项目、学前教育计划(Head Start)及医疗和科技研究方面的投资,而这些研究能够为贫困人群提供帮助,也能为将来创造就业机会。

德鲁肯米勒并不想要自己获得减税。他将社会安全福利(Social Security)及联邦医疗保险(Medicare)视作重大成就,因为它们降低了年长者的贫困率。他和卡纳达只是坚信,年轻人只有发起反越战规模的行动才能打破特殊利益网,迫使政治人士进行改革,实际上,这些改革将会为现在及未来的老年人、如今的中产阶级及想要成为中产阶级的人提供保障。

德鲁肯米勒鼓励年轻人自己构思解决方案,不过,当被问到如何解决时,他建议:增加对资本收益、股息及附带收益的税率——目前主要向富人和老年人倾斜——使它们达到劳动所得税的水平;促使所有消费者在获得医保的时候对价格更加敏感;对社会安全福利和联邦医疗保险申请者的资格进行调查,确保它们惠及那些最需要帮助的人;逐步上调获得福利资格的年龄下限,取消公司税,以便那些真正创造工作机会的人拥有更多资源来创造工作岗位。

卡纳达解释称,在哈莱姆儿童社区,“我们已经向所有的孩子承诺:如果你们遵守游戏规则,在学校表现优秀,避免吸毒、成帮结伙、犯罪及少女怀孕问题,我们就会帮助你们进入大学,走上成为中产阶级的道路”,以及走向一个有财务保障的未来。但他还表示,“我今年61岁,如果仍不减少目前在我这一代人身上的资金投入,我的孩子们将丧失获得他们所需要的社会服务、教育及医疗服务的机会。如果出现了这种情况,我们就是在要求哈莱姆的贫困儿童资助总体上比他们富裕的上代人,然后使他们负债累累。看着他们生活在一个吃掉下一代粮食种子的国度,我感到非常气愤。”

(翻译:黄铮 许欣)

英文原题:Sorry, Kids. We Ate It All.

英文原文见下一页

 

 

 

Sorry, Kids. We Ate It All.

Eventually this shutdown crisis will end. And eventually the two parties will make another stab at a deal on taxes, investments and entitlements. But there’s one outcome from such negotiations that I can absolutely guarantee: Seniors, Wall Street and unions will all have their say and their interests protected. So the most likely result will be more tinkering around the edges, as our politicians run for the hills the minute someone accuses them of “fixing the deficit on the backs of the elderly” or creating “death panels” to sensibly allocate end-of-life health care. Could this time be different? Short of an economic meltdown, there is only one thing that might produce meaningful change: a mass movement for tax, spending and entitlement reform led by the cohort that is the least organized but will be the most affected if we don’t think long term — today’s young people.

Whether they realize it or not, they’re the ones who will really get hit by all the cans we’re kicking down the road. After we baby boomers get done retiring — at a rate of 7,000 to 11,000 a day — if current taxes and entitlement promises are not reformed, the cupboard will be largely bare for today’s Facebook generation. But what are the chances of them getting out of Facebook and into their parents’ faces — and demanding not only that the wealthy do their part but that the next generation as a whole leaves something for this one? Too bad young people aren’t paying attention. Or are they?

Wait! Who is that speaking to crowds of students at Berkeley, Stanford, Brown, U.S.C., Bowdoin, Notre Dame and N.Y.U. — urging these “future seniors” to start a movement to protect their interests? That’s Stan Druckenmiller, the legendary investor who made a fortune predicting the subprime bust, often accompanied by Geoffrey Canada, the president of the Harlem Children’s Zone, of which Druckenmiller is the biggest funder. What are they doing on a Mick Jagger-like college tour where they don’t sing, don’t dance, and just go through a set of charts showing young people how badly they’ll be hammered if our current taxes, growth rates, defense spending and entitlements stay where they are?

“My generation — we brought down the president in the ’60s because we didn’t want to go into the war against Vietnam,” Druckenmiller told an overflow crowd at Notre Dame last week. “People say young people don’t vote; young people don’t care. I’m hoping after tonight, you will care. There is a clear danger to you and your children.”

Whenever Druckenmiller (a friend) is challenged by seniors, who also come to his talks, that he is trying to start an intergenerational war, he has a standard reply: “No, that war already happened, and the kids lost. We’re just trying to recover some scraps for them.”

With graph after graph, they show how government spending, investments, entitlements and poverty alleviation have overwhelmingly benefited the elderly since the 1960s and how the situation will only get worse as our over-65 population soars 100 percent between now and 2050, while the working population that will have to support them — ages 18 to 64 — will grow by 17 percent. This imbalance will lead to a huge burden on the young and, without greater growth, necessitate cutting the very government investments in infrastructure, Head Start, and medical and technology research that help the poorest and also create the jobs of the future.

Druckenmiller is not looking to get his taxes cut. He considers Social Security and Medicare great achievements for how they’ve reduced poverty among the elderly. He and Canada are simply convinced that only a Vietnam-war-scale movement by the young can break through the web of special interests to force politicians to put in place the reforms that would actually secure both today’s seniors and future seniors, today’s middle class and the wanna-be middle class.

Druckenmiller urges young people to design their own solutions, but, when asked, he recommends: raising taxes on capital gains, dividends and carried interest — now hugely weighted to the wealthy and elderly — to make them equal to earned income taxes; making all consumers more price sensitive when obtaining health care; means-testing Social Security and Medicare so they go to those most in need; phasing in higher age qualifications for entitlements and cutting corporate taxes to zero, so the people who actually create jobs will have more resources to do so.

At the Harlem Children’s Zone, explains Canada, “we have made a promise to all of our children: you play by the rules, do well in school, avoid drugs, gangs, crime and teenage pregnancy, and we will get you into college and on your way down the path of the middle class” and toward a future of financial security. But, he adds, “the current spending on my generation — I’m 61 — if it continues unabated, will erase any chance my children will have the safety net of social, education and health services they will need. It seems deeply offensive to me that we will be asking these poor children from Harlem to subsidize a generation that is, by and large, more well-off than they are, and then leave them deeply indebted in an America that had eaten the seed corn of the next generation.”

托马斯·弗里德曼

托马斯·弗里德曼

普利策奖终身评审,《世界是平的》

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