Economics in One Lesson校译之9. Disbanding Troops and Bureaucrats

Disbanding Troops and Bureaucrats

第9章 遣散军队和裁减公务员

WHEN, AFTER EVERY great war, it is proposed to demobilize the armed forces, there is always a great fear that there will not be enough jobs for these forces and that in consequence they will be unemployed. It is true that, when millions of men are suddenly released, it may require time for private industry to reabsorb them—though what has been chiefly remarkable in the past has been the speed, rather than the slowness, with which this was accomplished. The fears of unemployment arise because people look at only one side of the process.

在每一次大战结束,提起军人复员问题的时候,人们总是非常担心没有足够多的工作岗位来安置这些复员军人,进而担心这些人会因此失业。确实,当数以百万计的人突然间被遣散,要使得私营工商业重新吸纳他们是需要相当一段时间的——不过历史上首要的引人吃惊的是这一过程完成之迅速,而非迟缓。人们对失业问题忧心忡忡,是因为他们只考虑到了这个进程的一个侧面。

They see soldiers being turned loose on the labor market. Where is the “purchasing power” going to come from to employ them? If we assume that the public budget is being balanced, the answer is simple. The government will cease to support the soldiers. But the taxpayers will be allowed to retain the funds that were previously taken from them in order to support the soldiers. And the taxpayers will then have additional funds to buy additional goods. Civilian demand, in other words, will be increased, and will give employment to the added labor force represented by the former soldiers.

人们看到退伍军人涌入劳动市场时,不禁要问,哪来那么多“购买力”雇用这些人呢?如果我们假设政府在战时可以在维持公共预算收支平衡的情况下来供养军队,答案则很简单。政府在战后不用再维持庞大的军队,会减少军费开支。纳税人以前被征去供应军队的钱,现在可以留着自己用,也就会有更多的钱去购买更多的东西。换句话说,民间需求将从此增加,并将为复员军人所代表的新增劳动力提供就业机会。

If the soldiers have been supported by an unbalanced budget— that is, by government borrowing and other forms of deficit financing—the case is somewhat different. But that raises a different question: we shall consider the effects of deficit financing in a later chapter. It is enough to recognize that deficit financing is irrelevant to the point that has just been made; for if we assume that there is any advantage in a budget deficit, then precisely the same budget deficit could be maintained as before by simply reducing taxes by the amount previously spent in supporting the wartime army.

如果政府在战时采用赤字财政,也就是靠政府公债和其他的赤字财政形式来供养军队,情况会有所不同。然而,那也提出了一个不同的问题:我们将在后面的章节再讨论赤字财政的影响。这里只需要知道赤字财政和我们讨论的要点无关即可。因为,要是我们认为维持这个水平的预算赤字有某种好处的话,那么只需要减税,减税幅度和以前用于支付战时军费上的资金一样多,就可以保持与原来相同的预算赤字。

But the demobilization will not leave us economically just where we were before it started. The soldiers previously supported by civilians will not become merely civilians supported by other civilians. They will become self-supporting civilians. If we assume that the men who would otherwise have been retained in the armed forces are no longer needed for defense, then their retention would have been sheer waste. They would have been unproductive. The taxpayers, in return for supporting them, would have got nothing. But now the taxpayers turn over this part of their funds to them as fellow civilians in return for equivalent goods or services. Total national production, the wealth of everybody, is higher.

但是,从经济角度来说,军人复员转业并不会让我们停留在与遣散之前的经济状态。以前靠平民养活的军人并不仅仅转变为靠其他平民供养的平民,他们现在是自食其力的平民。如果我们认为那些要被遣散的军人不再为国防所需,那么继续把他们留在军中纯粹是一种浪费。他们本身是不从事生产的,纳税人出钱供养他们是得不到相应回报的。现在,纳税人能把这一部分的钱支付给复员转业人员,换取等值的产品或服务。国民生产总值增加了,也就是每个人的财富都增加了。

2

The same reasoning applies to civilian government officials whenever they are retained in excessive numbers and do not perform services for the community reasonably equivalent to the remuneration they receive. Yet whenever any effort is made to cut down the number of unnecessary officeholders the cry is certain to be raised that this action is “deflationary.” Would you remove the “purchasing power” from these officials? Would you injure the landlords and tradesmen who depend on that purchasing power? You are simply cutting down “the national income” and helping to bring about or intensify a depression.

当政府冗员过多,这些公务员为社会提供的服务配不上他们所获得的薪酬时,上述推理是同样适用的。然而,无论什么时候,只要做出一些努力去裁减多余的 公务员,就一定会遭到极力反对,说这种举动是“通货紧缩的”。你是要裁掉这些公务员的“购买力”吗?你想要损害依赖那些购买力的房东和商家吗?你这么做,纯粹是在削减“国民所得”,促成或加剧经济衰退。

Once again the fallacy comes from looking at the effects of this action only on the dismissed officeholders themselves and on the particular tradesmen who depend upon them. Once again it is forgotten that, if these bureaucrats are not retained in office, the taxpayers will be permitted to keep the money that was formerly taken from them for the support of the bureaucrats. Once again it is forgotten that the taxpayers’ income and purchasing power go up by at least as much as the income and purchasing power of the former officeholders go down. If the particular shopkeepers who formerly got the business of these bureaucrats lose trade, other shopkeepers elsewhere gain at least as much. Washington is less prosperous, and can, perhaps, support fewer stores; but other towns can support more.

谬误又一次发生于只认识到了这一行动对遭到裁减的公务员,以及那些依赖于他们的特定商家的影响。人们又一次忘记了,如果这些公务员不再呆在政府机关,纳税人便可将原先被征去养活这些冗员的钱留作己用;人们再一次忘记了,纳税人的所得及购买力的增幅,至少跟被裁掉的冗员的所得及购买力的减幅相当。即使过去做公务员生意的商家有损失,别处的商家还会赢得起码同样多的生意。首都华盛顿不会像以前那般繁华,或许商店少了一些,可是其它城镇却能有更多的商家。

Once again, however, the matter does not end there. The country is not merely as well off without the superfluous officeholders as it would have been had it retained them. It is much better off. For the officeholders must now seek private jobs or set up private business. And the added purchasing power of the taxpayers, as we noted in the case of the soldiers, will encourage this. But the officeholders can take private jobs only by supplying equivalent services to those who provide the jobs—or, rather, to the customers of the employers who provide the jobs. Instead of being parasites, they become productive men and women.

而且,跟以前的讨论一样,事情还不止如此。冗员裁掉之后,国家并不仅仅跟保留了冗员的状态一样,而且变得更好。因为,被裁掉这部分人必须自谋职业或自己创业。就象我们在分析军人复员的情形中所指出的那样,纳税人的新增购买力将推动这一进程。不过,这些人只有为雇主,或者更确切地说是提供工作机会的雇主的顾客,提供了等值服务,才能在社会立足。他们不再是社会的寄生虫,而是有生产贡献的人。

I must insist again that in all this I am not talking of public officeholders whose services are really needed. Necessary policemen, firemen, street cleaners, health officers, judges, legislators and executives perform productive services as important as those of anyone in private industry. They make it possible for private industry to function in an atmosphere of law, order, freedom and peace. But their justification consists in the utility of their services. It does not consist in the “purchasing power” they possess by virtue of being on the public payroll.

我必须重申,以上所述,我并没有谈及其服务是社会真正需要的那些公务员。必需的警察、消防队员、环卫工人、卫生局官员、法官、议员和行政人员,这些人都履行着与私企职员同等重要的生产性职责。由于他们所从事的服务,私人企业才得以在法制、秩序、自由、和平的环境中运作。但留用他们的理由,是因为他们提供的服务有其效用,而不是因为他们靠支配纳税人的钱所拥有的“购买力”。

This “purchasing power” argument is, when one considers it seriously, fantastic. It could just as well apply to a racketeer or a thief who robs you. After he takes your money he has more purchasing power. He supports with it bars, restaurants, night clubs, tailors, perhaps automobile workers. But for every job his spending provides, your own spending must provide one less, because you have that much less to spend. Just so the taxpayers provide one less job for every job supplied by the spending of officeholders. When your money is taken by a thief, you get nothing in return. When your money is taken through taxes to support needless bureaucrats, precisely the same situation exists. We are lucky, indeed, if the needless bureaucrats are mere easygoing loafers. They are more likely today to be energetic reformers busily discouraging and disrupting production.

这种“购买力”论调推敲起来就会显得荒诞不经。这套说辞对骗子和窃贼同样适用。窃贼窃取你的钱之后,他的购买力也会提高。他把盗窃来的钱花在酒吧、餐厅、夜总会、成衣店,甚至拿去买车。然而,其支出每提供一个工作机会,你自己的支出所能提供的就业机会就将同时减少,因为,你恰恰减少了这么多钱可供花费。同理,公务员的支出每提供一个工作机会,纳税人那边就要少提供一个工作机会。钱被盗窃,对于你而言是一种白白损失,钱被征去养活那些冗员,恰恰正是这种情形。事实上,倘若这些冗员仅仅是些游手好闲的人,还算我们走运。可惜如今,他们更可能是些忙于阻碍和破坏生产的,劲头十足的“改革者”。

When we can find no better argument for the retention of any group of officeholders than that of retaining their purchasing power it is a sign that the time has come to get rid of them.

当我们留用一批公务员只是为了保住其购买力,而找不出更有力的理由时,那就表明应该把他们从政府机关裁减出去。

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