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經濟學人:疫情后時代社會保障的絕處逢生(1)

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Leaders

社論板塊

Bouncing back

重整旗鼓

How to make a social safety net for the post-covid world

如何構建疫情后時代的社會保障系統

After the Depression and the second world war, voters and governments in rich countries recast the relationship between the state and its citizens. Now the pandemic has seen the old rules on social spending ripped up. More than three-quarters of Americans support President Joe Biden’s $1.9trn stimulus bill, which is due in the Senate and includes $1,400 cheques for most adults. And in the budget on March 3rd Britain extended a scheme to pay the wages of furloughed workers until September, even as public debt hit its highest level since 1945. Such boldness brings dangers: governments could stretch the public finances to breaking-point, distort incentives and create sclerotic societies. But they also have a chance to create new social welfare policies that are affordable and which help workers thrive in an economy facing technological disruption. They must seize it.

經歷大蕭條和二戰之后,富裕國家的選民和政府重塑了國家和公民之間的關系。如今,新冠疫情撕毀了舊有的社會支出規則。超過四分之三的美國人支持總統喬·拜登提出的1.9萬億美元的經濟刺激法案,該法案將在參議院通過,其中包括為大多數成年人提供1400美元的支票。在3月3日的預算計劃中,英國政府將員工帶薪休假計劃延長到9月,即使其公共債務達到了1945年以來的最高水平。如此大膽的行為也帶來了危機:政府可能會將公共財政推到崩潰的邊緣,扭曲激勵機制,造成社會僵化。但他們也有機會制定可負擔得起的新社會福利政策,幫助工人在面臨技術顛覆的經濟中突圍。他們必須抓住這個機會。

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The past year has seen a wild experiment in social spending. The world launched at least 1,600 new social protection programmes in 2020. Rich countries have provided 5.8% of GDP on average to help record numbers of workers. Government debts are piling up, but so far low interest rates mean that they are cheap to service. The public’s mood had already been shifting. Britons used to grumble that layabouts sponged off the welfare state; now they are more likely to say help is too stingy. Last year over two-thirds of Europeans said they supported a universal basic income (UBI), an unconditional recurring payment to all adults. Affluent professionals have had their gaze drawn to the working conditions of those who deliver food and look after the sick. The struggles of women who have dropped out of the workforce to care for children and the elderly have become impossible to ignore.

在過去的一年里,各國政府在社會支出方面進行了一場瘋狂的實驗。2020年,全世界至少啟動了1600項新的社會保障計劃。富裕國家平均提供GDP的5.8%去幫助創紀錄數量的工人。政府債臺高筑,但到目前為止,低利率意味著償債成本很低。公眾的情緒已經改變。英國人過去常常抱怨那些靠國家福利救濟的懶漢;他們現在更可能說國家的救助太吝嗇了。去年,超過三分之二的歐洲國民表示,他們支持全民基本收入方案(UBI),即對所有成年人無條件循環資助。成功的專業人士已經開始關注那些配送食物和照顧病人的人的工作條件。那些為了照顧孩子和老人而退出就業市場的女性們的掙扎已不容忽視。

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recurring [ri'kə:riŋ]

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adj. 再發的,循環的 動詞recur的現在分詞

 
recast [,ri:'kɑ:st, -'kæst, 'ri:kɑ:st, -kæst]

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vt. 重鑄;徹底改動 n. 重鑄;重做的事物

 
payment ['peimənt]

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n. 支付,付款,報償,報應

 
stretch [stretʃ]

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n. 伸展,張開
adj. 可伸縮的

 
universal [.ju:ni'və:səl]

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adj. 普遍的,通用的,宇宙的,全體的,全世界的

 
pandemic [pæn'demik]

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adj. 全國流行的 n. (全國或全世界范圍流行的)疾

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stingy ['stindʒi]

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adj. 吝嗇的,小氣的

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shifting [ʃiftiŋ]

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n. 轉移 adj. 不斷改換的 動詞shift的現在分

 
depression [di'preʃən]

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n. 沮喪,蕭條

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grumble ['grʌmbl]

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v. 發牢騷,抱怨,轟鳴
n. 怨言,牢騷,轟

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