[文摘] Stein’s Law

Referal Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-steins-law/2013/07/25/f45acb30-f567-11e2-aa2e-4088616498b4_story.html

 

Stein’s Law 是一篇保守主義經濟學(經濟自由主義)好文,由《華郵》政論名家 Charles Krauthammer 撰寫。

有關於 Stein’s Law,其實就是「羊毛出在羊身上」的道理。它在倫理學和社群主義可有很多觀察應用:一個體系得不到它所需要的養分維持時,最後必然崩潰。

一年前的此時,Detroit 宣告破產。其結構因素是戰後擴張的工業內需,使其車業自大擴大了工會,而未注意到創新研發、保持結構彈性等問題。

When our great industrial competitors were digging out from the rubble of World War II, Detroits automakers ruled the world. Their imagined sense of inherent superiority bred complacency. Management grew increasingly bureaucratic and inflexible. Unions felt entitled to the extraordinary wages, benefits and work rules theyd bargained for in the fat years. In time, they all found themselves being overtaken by more efficient, more adaptable, more hungry foreign producers.

 

Detroit 市府則更誇張地,在城市車業蕭條、城市稅基不足、人口外移的情況下,還超支舉債。這使市民更加預見了泡沫化而想著逃跑。

The market ultimately forced the car companies into reform, restructuring, the occasional bankruptcy and eventual recovery.

The city of Detroit, however, lacking market constraints, just kept overspending $100 million annually since 2008. The city now has about $19 billion in obligations it has no chance of meeting. So much city revenue has had to be diverted to creditors and pensioners that there is practically nothing left to run the city. Forty percent of the streetlights dont work, two-thirds of the parks are shut down and emergency police response time averages nearly an hour if it ever comes at all.

The legal corruption was the cozy symbiosis of Democratic politicians and powerful unions, especially the public-sector unions that gave money to elect the politicians who negotiated their contracts with wildly unsustainable health and pension benefits.

 

支持Keynesian economics 的Obama 在 Detroit 破產後,也不敢以聯邦之名直接金援,唯恐其他債台高築的城市都起而效尤找聯邦買單。

Bankruptcy, which will radically cut payments to bondholders and retirees, is the only chance to start over. Yet, if a Detroit bankruptcy succeeds, other cities will be tempted to follow suit. Dozens of other large urban areas have similarly massive pension and debt obligations, with commensurately denuded services and exorbitant taxes leading to a vicious cycle of depopulation that makes everything worse. Detroit has lost more than 60 percent of its population since 1950.

The moral hazard increases if the federal government steps in to help.The Obama administration is therefore firmly opposed to any bailout, recognizing both the political toxicity of the word and the fiscal consequences of a Detroit precedent that invites other cities to line up with a tin cup. Washington cannot afford a nationwide federal bailout of insolvent cities.

這事實上相當說明當前中國地方政府與中央的關係。但更重要的啟示是,我們不可能無限制地擴張我們社群的邊界而找到某個關係微弱的人,來修補我們生活方式捅出的缺口。

每個人必須先學會為自己負責-因最終是個人必須向上帝交帳;擁有了這樣垂直關係的支點後,才可能成為水平連結一個互利共生社群的可靠基礎。

雖然社群益發流動、時代不斷更迭,但有些美德,總因著古舊的信仰和經濟秩序運作背後的啟示法則,而歷久彌新。


In the long run—which is what counts to those of us who reject the Keynesian understanding of what it is to be human—civilizations are sustained by, and only by, « the sort of enviable people who make it look easy even though it almost certainly isn’t. »

– Greg Forster in « WANDERING IN DESERT WASTES, » 1 . 28 . 14

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