Economics in One Lesson校译之14. Saving the X Industry

Saving the X Industry

第14章 救救某产业

THE LOBBIES OF Congress are crowded with representatives of the X industry. The X industry is sick. The X industry is dying. It must be saved. It can be saved only by a tariff, by higher prices, or by a subsidy. If it is allowed to die, workers will be thrown on the streets. Their landlords, grocers, butchers, clothing stores and local motion pictures will lose business, and depression will spread in ever-widening circles. But if the X industry, by prompt action of Congress, is saved—ah then! It will buy equipment from other industries; more men will be employed; they will give more business to the butchers, bakers and neon-light makers, and then it is prosperity that will spread in ever-widening circles.

国会大厦的侯休室挤满了某产业的代表。某产业不行了。某产业快完了,我们必须拯救它。只有征收新关税、提高价格,或者提供补贴,它才有救。要是国会坐视不管,某产业一垮,产业工人就只有流落街头。他们的房东、杂货店、肉铺、服饰店、戏院,就会失去生意,经济萧条会因此蔓延到其它行业。但如果国会马上采取挽救措施的话——那么,啊哈!某产业会向其他行业购买设备;更多的人将能得到工作;他们将为当地的肉铺、面包店,以及霓虹灯制造商带来生意。这样的话,就是经济繁荣扩展到其它行业。

It is obvious that this is merely a generalized form of the case we have just been considering. There the X industry was agriculture. But there is an endless number of X industries. Two of the most notable examples have been the coal and silver industries. To “save silver” Congress did immense harm. One of the arguments for the rescue plan was that it would help “the East.” One of its actual results was to cause deflation in China, which had been on a silver basis, and to force China off that basis. The United States Treasury was compelled to acquire, at ridiculous prices far above the market level, hoards of unnecessary silver, and to store it in vaults. The essential political aims of the “silver senators” could have been as well achieved, at a fraction of the harm and cost, by the payment of a frank subsidy to the mine owners or to their workers; but Congress and the country would never have approved a naked steal of this sort unaccompanied by the ideological flim-flam regarding “silver’s essential role in the national currency.

很显然,这不过是我们刚刚讨论过的情况的一般形式。在前一章,某产业是指农业。不过,某产业多不胜举,其中最著名的两个例子是煤炭产业和白银产业。美国国会为了“拯救白银”,曾造成巨大的危害。支持这种挽救计划的一个论点,是认为它将有助于“东方”,其实际结果之一,便是造成了银本位制下的中国发生通货紧缩,进而逼迫中国放弃银本位制。美国财政部不得不以离谱的高价大量收购不必需的白银,任其积压在金库里。“银参议员们”完全可以用直接补贴矿业业主或矿工的方式来达到其政治目的,其危害与代价也不至于如此惨重。但这样做无异于赤裸裸的抢劫,若不包装上“白银在国家货币上扮演不可或缺的角色”等意识形态上的东西,以此来遮羞的话,美国国会和这个国家是绝不会赞同的。

To save the coal industry Congress passed the Guffey Act, under which the owners of coal mines were not only permitted, but compelled, to conspire together not to sell below certain minimum prices fixed by the government. Though Congress had started out to fix “the” price of coal, the government soon found itself (because of different sizes, thousands of mines, and shipments to thousands of different destinations by rail, truck, ship and barge) fixing 350,000 separate prices for coal!* One effect of this attempt to keep coal prices above the competitive market level was to accelerate the tendency toward the substitution by consumers of other sources of power or heat—such as oil, natural gas and hydroelectric energy. Today we find the government trying to force conversion from oil consumption back to coal.

为了拯救煤炭产业,国会通过了古费法案(Guffey Act)。该法案不仅允许而且强制煤矿业主联合起来,只能以高于政府规定的最低价格出售煤炭。尽管有国会立法定价,但政府很快就发现,它总共制定了35万种不同的煤价!这是因为有数以千计的规模不等的煤矿场,并且有铁路、公路、海运、江运等不同运输方式,以及成千上万个不同的目的地{footnotes:1937年《烟煤法案》(Bituminous Coal Act)适用范围的听证会上,烟煤部门负责人惠勒(Dan H. Wheeler)的证词。}。强制维持煤碳价高于市场竞价水平的一个后果,是消费者加速寻找煤炭的替代物,如石油、天然气、水力发电,来获取动力和取暖。如今,我们发现,政府正在努力迫使公众从石油的消费重新转移到煤炭的消费上去。

2

Our aim here is not to trace all the results that followed historically from efforts to save particular industries, but to trace a few of the chief results that must necessarily follow from efforts to save an industry.

本章的目的,不是探寻过去为拯救特定产业曾经造成的所有结果,而是探讨拯救一个产业,必然带来的主要结果。

It may be argued that a given industry must be created or preserved for military reasons. It may be argued that a given industry is being ruined by taxes or wage rates disproportionate to those of other industries; or that, if a public utility, it is being forced to operate at rates or charges to the public that do not permit an adequate profit margin. Such arguments may or may not be justified in a particular case. We are not concerned with them here. We are concerned only with a single argument for saving the X industry—that if it is allowed to shrink in size or perish through the forces of free competition (always called by spokesmen for the industry in such cases laissez-faire, anarchic, cutthroat, dog-eatdog, law-of-the-jungle competition) it will pull down the general economy with it, and that if it is artificially kept alive it will help everybody else.

可以说,为了军事目的,不得不创建或保全某些产业;也可以说,某个产业税负或工资率相对于其他产业不成比例,因而难以为继;还可以说公用事业公司因为面向公众的费率偏低,无法赚取合理的利润。这些说法有没有道理,要视特定的情况而定。我们暂不讨论这些,本章只谈拯救某产业的一种论调——如果放任其在自由竞争(也就是某产业的代言人所声讨的,自由放任的、无政府主义的、残酷无情的、同类相残的、弱肉强食的竞争)中萎缩或消亡,它会拖垮整个经济;而如果用人为的力量维持它的生存,它会让其他所有人获益。

What we are talking about here is nothing else but a generalized case of the argument put forward for parity prices for farm products or for tariff protection for any number of X industries. The argument against artificially higher prices applies, of course, not only to farm products but to any product, just as the reasons we have found for opposing tariff protection for one industry apply to any other.

本章要谈的,无非是将主张实施农产品等位价格或对某些产业实施关税保护的论调加以扩展讨论。不消说,反对通过人为干预提高产品价格的观点,不仅适用于农产品,它同样适用于其他任何产品,正如我们用以反对为某个产业实施关税保护的理由,同样适用于其他任何产业。

But there are always any number of schemes for saving X industries. There are two main types of such proposals in addition to those we have already considered, and we shall take a brief glance at them. One is to contend that the X industry is already “overcrowded,” and to try to prevent other firms or workers from getting into it. The other is to argue that the X industry needs to be supported by a direct subsidy from the government.

拯救某产业的办法不胜枚举。除了我们前面提到的,相关提案通常还有两大类,我们会简短地讨论它们。其中一类强调,某产业已经“过热”,应该设法阻止其他公司或劳工再进入。另一类则呼吁,政府应该以直接补贴的方式对某产业给予扶持。

Now if the X industry is really overcrowded as compared with other industries it will not need any coercive legislation to keep out new capital or new workers. New capital does not rush into industries that are obviously dying. Investors do not eagerly seek the industries that present the highest risks of loss combined with the lowest returns. Nor do workers, when they have any better alternative, go into industries where the wages are lowest and the prospects for steady employment least promising.

如果某产业与其他产业相比确实过度拥挤,那根本不需要任何强制立法,去排斥新资本或新劳工进入。新资本不会抢着挤进显然要垮掉的行业。投资人不会冒然踏进风险最大、回报率最低的行业。劳工如果能更好的选择,同样不会进入工资最低、工作最不稳定的行业。

If new capital and new labor are forcibly kept out of the X industry, however, either by monopolies, cartels, union policy or legislation, it deprives this capital and labor of liberty of choice. It forces investors to place their money where the returns seem less promising to them than in the X industry. It forces workers into industries with even lower wages and prospects than they could find in the allegedly sick X industry. It means, in short, that both capital and labor are less efficiently employed than they would be if they were permitted to make their own free choices. It means, therefore, a lowering of production which must reflect itself in a lower average living standard.

如果新资本和新劳工是被强制排斥在某产业之外,例如垄断、同业联盟、工会的政策或者法律等强制手段剥夺了资本和劳动力自由选择的权力。它逼迫投资人将钱投向回报率还不如某产业的其他地方。它逼迫劳工只好投身工资更低、就业前景更为暗淡的行业,而那些行业还不如所谓有毛病的某产业。总之,这意味着资本和劳工的运用效率都不如允许它们自由选择时的水准。因此,这也就意味着生产的下降,而它又必将反映为一种更低的生活水平。

That lower living standard will be brought about either by lower average money wages than would otherwise prevail or by higher average living costs, or by a combination of both. (The exact result would depend upon the accompanying monetary policy.) By these restrictive policies wages and capital returns might indeed be kept higher than otherwise within the X industry itself; but wages and capital returns in other industries would be forced down lower than otherwise. The X industry would benefit only at the expense of the A, B and C industries.

生活水平下降,可能表现为人均所领的工资低于本来应有的水准,也可能表现为更高的人均生活费用,或者两种表现都有(具体表现取决于当时的货币政策)。实施限制性政策的结果是,某产业内部的工资和资本回报率可能会更高;但是其他产业的工资和资本回报率,将被迫下降,低于本来应有的水准。某产业得到好处,只可能是以甲、乙、丙产业的损失为代价的。

3

Similar results would follow any attempt to save the X industry by a direct subsidy out of the public till. This would be nothing more than a transfer of wealth or income to the X industry. The taxpayers would lose precisely as much as the people in the X industry gained. The great advantage of a subsidy, indeed, from the standpoint of the public, is that it makes this fact so clear. There is far less opportunity for the intellectual obfuscation that accompanies arguments for tariffs, minimum-price fixing or monopolistic exclusion.

从国库直接拿钱来补贴某产业,其后果也差不多。这只不过是将财富或收益转移到某产业。某产业中的人获得多少,纳税人就损失多少。确实,从公众的立场上看,补贴这种方式的好处在于,它使这个事实更为清楚明了。相比之下,关税、最低价格限制、垄断限制进入行为的相关论调,往往让人看不清这个事实。

It is obvious in the case of a subsidy that the taxpayers must lose precisely as much as the X industry gains. It should be equally clear that, as a consequence, other industries must lose what the X industry gains. They must pay part of the taxes that are used to support the X industry. And customers, because they are taxed to support the X industry, will have that much less income left with which to buy other things. The result must be that other industries on the average must be smaller than otherwise in order that the X industry may be larger.

采用补贴方式,有一点是显而易见的,某产业之所得,正是纳税人之所失。同样明显的是,某产业之所得,必然是其他产业之所失,因为用于支持某产业的税款,有一部分是它们缴纳的。同时,为了支持某产业,负担一部分税款的消费者,也就不能把那一部分钱拿去买别的东西。为了让某产业能有起色,结果一定是其他产业的平均规模小于原来应有的水准。

But the result of this subsidy is not merely that there has been a transfer of wealth or income, or that other industries have shrunk in the aggregate as much as the X industry has expanded. The result is also (and this is where the net loss comes in to the nation considered as a unit) that capital and labor are driven out of industries in which they are more efficiently employed to be diverted to an industry in which they are less efficiently employed. Less wealth is created. The average standard of living is lowered compared with what it would have been.

但是,补贴的结果不仅仅是财富或收益的转移,也不仅仅意味其他产业的总体萎缩程度和某产业的扩张程度相当。其后果同样是(并且是在把国家视为一个整体时所受的净损失加以考虑时),资本和劳工被迫从运用效率较高的产业流失,而流向运用效率较差的产业。如此一来,创造出来的财富减少了,人均生活水平低于应有的水准。

4

These results are virtually inherent, in fact, in the very arguments put forward to subsidize the X industry. The X industry is shrinking or dying by the contention of its friends. Why, it may be asked, should it be kept alive by artificial respiration? The idea that an expanding economy implies that all industries must be simultaneously expanding is a profound error. In order that new industries may grow fast enough it is usually necessary that some old industries should be allowed to shrink or die. In doing this they help to release the necessary capital and labor for the new industries. If we had tried to keep the horse-and-buggy trade artificially alive we should have slowed down the growth of the automobile industry and all the trades dependent on it. We should have lowered the production of wealth and retarded economic and scientific progress.

事实上,这样的结果正是那些补贴某产业的主张在逻辑上的必然发展。某产业其实是竞争不过其他产业而萎缩或衰亡的。我们可以追问,究竟是什么原因要给落败的产业做人工呼吸,供它们吊命?而那些认为经济扩张意味着所有产业必须同时扩张的说法大错特错。为了使各种新产业迅速成长,通常必然要放手让一些旧的产业萎缩或衰亡。只有这样,必要的资本和劳工才能从旧产业释放出来,供新产业使用。要是我们人为地去维持马车业及其相关行业继续存在,我们只会减缓汽车业及其相关行业的成长步伐,我们只会减低财富创造,阻碍经济发展和科技进步。

We do the same thing, however, when we try to prevent any industry from dying in order to protect the labor already trained or the capital already invested in it. Paradoxical as it may seem to some, it is just as necessary to the health of a dynamic economy that dying industries be allowed to die as that growing industries be allowed to grow. The first process is essential to the second. It is as foolish to try to preserve obsolescent industries as to try to preserve obsolescent methods of production: this is often, in fact, merely two ways of describing the same thing. Improved methods of production must constantly supplant obsolete methods, if both old needs and new wants are to be filled by better commodities and better means.

然而,当我们为了保护一些已经掌握了熟练技术的劳工,为了保护已经投下去的资本,而企图使任何产业免于衰亡的时候,我们便犯了与上述情形相同的错误。尽管这对于某些人来讲可能有些自相矛盾,放手让夕阳产业消失,跟允许朝阳产业成长一样,这是一个有活力的经济能够健康发展所必需的;前者是后者的必要条件。企图保护落伍过时的产业,就跟保护落伍过时的生产方式一样愚蠢:事实上,二者往往不过是说明同一事情的两种不同方式而已。如果要想有更好的产品和更好的手段能满足新老需求,改进的生产方式必须不断取代陈旧的生产方式。

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