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双语:想缩小贫富差距就和土豪做朋友

 At the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, how to reduce income inequality will be a key issue.

  When he became China's top leader, Xi Jinping made helping all Chinese people to achieve modest prosperity and the rejuvenation of the nation the goals for his time at the helm. But reducing the huge income gap is a daunting task, as in recent years there has been no noticeable progress in reducing China's high Gini coefficient of 0.474, which indicates a high degree of inequality, and it is at a level above that in many long-established capitalist economies, where successful risk-taking earns rewards. In the developed countries some highly successful, risk-taking entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, command respect for their wealth rather than jealousy, and they are seen as role models inspiring others.

  However, the wealth of these entrepreneurs has been acquired through their own efforts and they have often made innovative contributions to people's lives. They also give back through charitable work and present a lifestyle that is not too ostentatious and still seems in touch with ordinary folks. And, they all fly the flag for their country.

  Whether justified or not, in China, people's perceptions of rich Chinese is different. There is a suspicion that they have become wealthy through their connections and/or corruption, and that a major goal of many of them is not to help China but to squirrel funds abroad and then emigrate. There is the general perception that rich Chinese are a tuhao, a group that displays uncivilized splendor. The fact that the nouveau riche ostentatiously flaunt their wealth and show a lack of sensitivity to the struggles of everyday folks does not endear them to others, nor, that in general, the rich of China seem unwilling to help others by supporting charities.

  This perception is not a good one, as it raises concerns there might be a backlash against the rich if ordinary people do not see fairer policies, including income redistribution, in favor of those in need, and a greater contribution to society from the wealthy.

  Global happiness surveys have found that the people living in countries with re-distributive tax systems and the support of social security systems are usually the most contented. In these countries, high-income earners accept relatively high taxation in return for a comprehensive "social wage" of quality healthcare, education and pensions, and the benefits of a stable society guaranteed by a safety net for the less advantaged.

  It is a truism that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" and we see this at the pre-tax level in most advanced economies. Even during an economic downturn, the inequality gap usually widens. It is recognized that it is less painful to increase taxes on the higher paid in times of strong economic growth, when resources can more readily redistributed and more be spent on basic provision of social welfare, than it is during an economic slump.

  Although the growth of China's economy has slowed, there is every reason to believe that China can maintain a robust increase in its GDP of more than 7 percent a year over the next decade. China needs to take that opportunity to enter a new period of reform in which the taxation and social welfare policies more usually associated with a socialist society are implemented to counter the growth in inequality that the development of a capitalistic market development inevitably produces. The longer this policy is postponed, the harder it will be to implement. The Party plenary is a good time to plan for the long march toward a fairer society.

  The author is an economist and director of China Programs at CAPA International Education, an UK-US based organization that cooperates with Capital Normal University and Shanghai International Studies University.

  By Colin Speakman (China Daily)

  当前召开的中共十八届三中全会上,采取措施缩小贫富差距是工作的重中之重。

  习近平主席成为中国最高领导时就把全面建成小康社会和实现民族复兴作为执政目标。然而要缩小如此巨大的贫富差距是很大挑战。中国基尼指数仍在0.474且居高不下,显示出收入分配的极度不平衡。许多历史悠久的资本主义经济体,成功的冒险受到肯定。发达国家一些像比尔·盖茨、史蒂夫·乔布斯和理查德·布兰森等这类成功的、敢于冒险的创业者都使人敬仰而非嫉妒,他们被看做激励他人的典范。

  然而,这些企业家是通过自己的努力获得财富,他们通过自己的创造为人类生活做了贡献。还通过慈善活动回馈他人,保持着普通人的低调生活从不卖弄招摇。而且,他们非常维护国家利益。

  不知这样说是否有失公允,在中国,大家对有钱人的认识并非如此。大家怀疑他们致富要么是通过关系,要么是通过贪污腐败,而他们赚钱不是为了帮助中国而是囤积财富然后移居国外。现在大家普遍把有钱人称做“土豪”,意思是光鲜亮丽而没修养的群体。事实上,很多暴发户招摇炫富,对仍为生计奔走的大众没有同情心,与他们保持距离,而总体上中国的有钱人也不愿通过支持慈善帮助他人。

  这种意识是不健康的,因为如果普通人看不到包括收入再分配、兼顾低收入群体和先富带后富等公平的政策,将会有导致激烈社会冲突的危险。

  全球幸福指数调查研究发现,在那些通过税收重分配社会财富和由健全社会保障系统的国家,人们通常生活最幸福。在这些国家,高收入群体愿接受相对较高的税收,通过为不那么优越的群体提供医疗、教育、养老和稳定社会的其他福利来回报社会。

  众所周知的是“富裕的容易越来越富有,贫穷的会越来越穷”。在通过税收调节以前,大多数发达经济体都是如此。甚至在经济衰退时期,收入差距有扩大的趋势。事实也证明,在经济强盛、资源更好重新分配、社会福利基本储备充足时期提高税收要比经济衰退时容易的多。

  尽管中国经济增长有放慢的趋势,我们仍有理由相信在接下来的十年,中国能够保持国内生产总值每年超过7%的强劲增长。中国必须抓住这个机会进入改革的新时期。制定税收和社会福利政策要充分考虑社会主义社会的实现,避免资本主义市场发展中不可避免的不平等增长。这个政策出台推迟时间越长,就越难实现。十八届三中全会是规划实现社会公平之万里长征的契机。

  (作者是经济学家,与首都师范大学和上海外国语大学[微博]有合作的英美机构——卡帕国际教育的中国部项目主任Colin Speakman)


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