爱思英语编者按:“全员基本收入”(universal basic income)支付——一种作为工资的补充或是替代物,而给予所有公民的无条件的政府支付。

Rethinking the welfare state
反思福利国家
Basically flawed
缺陷在根上
 
Proponents of a basic income underestimate how disruptive it would be
基本收入的支持者低估了它未来的破坏性
 
WORK is one of society's most important institutions. It is the main mechanism through which spending power is allocated. It provides people with meaning, structure and identity. Yet work is a less generous, and less certain, provider of these benefits than it once was. Since 2000 economic growth across the rich world has failed to generate decent pay increases for most workers. Now there is growing fear of a more fundamental threat to the world of work: the possibility that new technologies, from machine learning to driverless cars, will cause havoc to employment.
 
工作是最重要的社会制度之一,它是消费力量由之得以分配的主要机制。它提供给人们的是价值、结构和身份。然而,工作是一个不如以前那样慷慨大方、确定无疑的好处提供者了。自2000年以来,整个富裕世界的经济增长一直没能给大多数工人带来体面的工资提高。如今,存在着一种与日俱增的对于工作世界的更为根本的威胁的担忧:从机器学习到无人驾驶汽车等新技术将带来就业末日的可能性。
 
Such worries have revived interest in an old idea: the payment of a “universal basic income”, an unconditional government payment given to all citizens, as a supplement to or replacement for wages. On June 5th Swiss citizens will decide in a referendum whether to require their government to adopt a basic income. Finland and the Netherlands are planning limited experiments in which some citizens are paid a monthly income of roughly €1,000 ($1,100). People from all points on the ideological spectrum, from trade unionists to libertarians, are supporters. It is an idea whose day may come. But not soon.
 
这种担忧复活了对于一种老思想的兴趣:“全员基本收入”(universal basic income)支付——一种作为工资的补充或是替代物,而给予所有公民的无条件的政府支付。6月5日,瑞士公民将在一次全民公投中决定,是否要求他们的政府采纳某种基本收入。芬兰与瑞典正在计划其中的一些公民被付给大至1000欧元月收入的有限制的实验。来自意识形态光谱上各个点的人物——从工会主义者到自由派人士——都是它的支持者。这是一种它的时代可能到来的思想。但是,不会很快。
 
The basic income is an answer to a problem that has not yet materialised. Worries that technological advance would mean the end of employment have, thus far, always proved misguided; as jobs on the farm were destroyed, work in the factory was created. Today's angst over robots and artificial intelligence may well turn out to be another in a long line of such scares. A much-quoted study suggesting that 47% of today's jobs could be automated in the next two decades looks too gloomy, for example . Machines may one day be a match for many workers at most tasks. But that is not a reason to rush to adopt a basic income immediately.
 
基本收入是对一个尚未成为现实的问题的一种答案。迄今为止,对于技术进步意味着就业末日的担忧总是被证明是受到了误导;随着农场中的工作遭遇毁灭,就业岗位却在工厂中被创造了出来。当今对于机器人和人工智能的焦虑很可能最终转变为此类恐慌的漫长名单中的又一个。例如,一项被多次引用的、表明当今47%的工作可能在今后20年中实现自动化的研究,看上去过于悲观了。机器可能总有一天在大多数任务中成为许多工人的一个劲敌。但是,这不是立即采纳某种基本收入的一个理由。
 
If the need for a basic income is unproven, the costs are certain. Its universality is designed to encourage citizens to think of the payment as a basic right. However, universality also means that the policy would be fantastically costly. An economy as rich as America's could afford to pay citizens a basic income worth about $10,000 a year if it began collecting about as much tax as a share of GDP as Germany (35%, as opposed to the current 26%) and replaced all other welfare programmes (including Social Security, or pensions, but not including health care) with the basic-income payment.
 
如果说对于某种基本收入的需求未得到证实,花销却是确定的。它的全员性之被设计出来,是为了鼓励公民将这种支付视为一项基本权利。然而,全员性也意味着这项政策会极为耗费钱财。一个富如美国的经济体,只有在开始收取占GDP份额大致与德国一样多(是35%,而不是当前的26%)的税收并且已经用基本收入支付取代了(包括社会保障,养老金;但不包括医疗保健)其他所有福利项目的前提条件下,才可能承担得起付给其公民每年价值约10000美元的基本收入。
 
Such a big jump in the size of the state should make anyone wary. Even if levied efficiently, on an immovable asset like land, tax rises on this scale would have unpredictable effects on growth and wealth creation. Yet an income of $10,000 is still extremely low: it would leave many poorer people, such as those who rely on the state pension, worse off than they are now—at the same time as billionaires started getting more money from the state.
 
如此之大的政府体量的跃进应当让所有人谨慎从事。即便是土地等不动产被有效征税,这种幅度的税收提高也会给增长和财富创造带来无法预测的影响。然而,10000美元的收入仍旧极低:一方面,它会让许多较为贫穷的人,如依靠国家养老金之人,过得比现在还要差;另一方面,亿万富翁们却开始从国家那里得到更多的钱。
 
A universal basic income would also destroy the conditionality on which modern welfare states are built. During an experiment with a basic-income-like programme in Manitoba, Canada, most people continued to work. But over time, the stigma against leaving the workforce would surely erode: large segments of society could drift into an alienated idleness. Tensions between those who continue to work and pay taxes and those opting out weaken the current system; under a basic income, they could rip the welfare state apart.
 
全员基本收入还会摧毁当代福利国家得以建立的条件性。在加拿大马尼托巴省的一项类似于基本收入的项目的实验期间,大多数人曾经继续去工作。但是,随着时间的推移,反对离开劳动大军的恶名注定会逐渐消失:社会的大部分可能逐渐进入一种异化了的空闲状态之中。继续工作并纳税的人与选择离开的人之间的紧张关系会削弱当前这套体系;在基本收入之下,他们可能撕裂福利国家。
 
Lastly, a basic income would make it almost impossible for countries to have open borders. The right to an income would encourage rich-world governments either to shut the doors to immigrants, or to create second-class citizenries without access to state support.
 
最后,基本收入会让国家拥有开放边界成为几乎不可能的事情。对于某种收入的权利会鼓励富裕世界的政府或是对移民关上大门,或是创造出享受不到国家支持的二等公民。
 
Basic questions
根本问题
 
Make no mistake: modern welfare states leave plenty to be desired. Disability benefits are for many people an unsatisfactory version of a basic income, providing those who will no longer work with enough to get by. But rather than upend society with radical welfare reforms premised on a job-killing technological revolution that has not yet happened, governments should make better use of the tools they already have.
 
不要搞错:当代福利国家还有许多可以期待之处。对于许多人来说,残障福利是基本收入的一个差强人意的版本,它给那些不用再工作的人提供了足以生活下去福利。但是,与其以一场尚未发生的消灭工作的技术革命为前提而使用激进的改革倾覆社会,政府应当更好地利用已有的工具。
 
Labour-market reforms—to crack down on occupational licensing, say—would boost employment growth. More generous wage subsidies, such as an earned-income tax credit, would help people stay out of poverty. Long-overdue public investment in infrastructure would foster demand. Relaxing planning restrictions would create jobs in construction, and homes for workers in places with robust economies.
 
比如说,取消职业注册制的劳动力市场改革会促进就业增长;劳动所得税减免等更慷慨大方的工资补贴会帮助人们远离贫困;基础设施方面的长期公共投资会培育需求;放宽规划限制会在建筑行业创造就业,会给在经济强劲之地的工人带来住房。
 
A universal basic income might just make sense in a world of technological upheaval. But before governments begin planning for a world without work, they should strive to make today's system function better.
 
全员基本收入或许只有在一个技术骤变的世界中才有意义。但是,在政府开始为一个没有工作的世界而未雨绸缪之前,他们应当尽力让当前这套体系运转得更好。