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员工持股更易解决财富不均?

Anne VanderMey 2014年08月25日

时下风头最劲的经济学家托马斯•皮克提建议开征全球财富税,以解决愈演愈烈的不平等现象。面对同一个问题,经济学家约瑟夫•布拉西开出了一个不同的处方。

    
Image courtesy of Yale University Press

    你肯定听说过:美国正逐渐变得越来越不平等。全美收入最高的5%群体控制着这个国家一半财富,收入最高的20%群体收获了86%的资本收入,包括利息和股市收益。

    那么,我们应该怎样做呢?许多经济学家或许会保持沉默。但根据最新的经济悲观论,不采取行动最终将带来骇人的后果,美国社会或将沦为一种新时代的封建制度。

    畅销书《二十一世纪的资本》(Capital in the Twenty-First Century)的作者,时下风头最劲的经济学家托马斯•皮克提提供了一个广为人知的解决方案:全球收入再分配。在他的书中,皮克提支持一种严格的全球财富税,这项税种可以让政府着手调整过度的贫富差距。不过,该计划缺乏政治上的可行性。

    经济学家约瑟夫•布拉西和合著者认为,他们已经找到了第三种答案。布拉西与理查德•弗里曼和道格拉斯•克鲁斯共同撰写了一本新书《公民的分享:减少21世纪的不平等现象》(The Citizen’s Share:Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century),这本书去年已由耶鲁大学出版社(Yale University Press)出版,今夏推出了平装本。布拉西等人建议企业分享利润,员工持股,以及股票期权计划,这些措施能够让员工拥有企业大多数股权,或者分享企业收益。

    这些措施为什么能够消除不平等现象?上周接受《财富》(Fortune)专访时,布拉西详细陈述了他的计划。他说,这个想法的源头是美国国父当初的一个理想:普通民众广泛持有土地所有权。建国初期,资本主要是由土地所有权构成,联邦政府推出了一系列旨在让普通民众更容易获得土地产权的计划。乔治•华盛顿、托马斯•杰斐逊、约翰•亚当斯和詹姆斯•麦迪逊认为,所有人都应该拥有自己的农场,并由此成为自食其力的公民。1862年的《宅地法》(Homestead Act)显示,亚伯拉罕•林肯也支持这种理念。这项法律给予公民160英亩政府土地,让他们自由开发。

    “为什么我们的计划称不上激进?”布拉西问道。“因为美国革命的领导者早就有了这种想法。这种广泛分布的资本所有权,是共和国存在的必要条件之一。”

    You’ve heard it before: America is becoming gradually more and more unequal. The top 5% of the nation’s earners control half of its wealth, and the top 20% bring in 86% of capital income, including interest and stock market gains.

    What should be done about it? Plenty of economists would say nothing. But, if you believe the latest economic jeremiads, the eventual consequences of inaction could send society careening toward a horrifying form of new-age feudalism.

    Thomas Piketty, the author of the best-selling inequality opus Capital in the Twenty-First Century, offered a highly publicized solution: worldwide income redistribution. In his book, Piketty espouses a stringent global wealth tax that would allow the government to manually smooth over the wealth gap. Politically, the plan is a non-starter.

    Economist Joseph Blasi and co-authors think they have a third answer. Blasi, along with Richard Freeman and Douglas Kruse, wrote a book called The Citizen’s Share:Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century, published last year by Yale University Press and out in paperback this summer. In it, Blasichampions corporate profit-sharing, employee stock ownership, and stock option plans in which employees own chunks of the company or take part in earnings.

    Why would this stamp out inequality? Blasi sat down with Fortune last week to lay out the plan. The idea is rooted, he says, in the Founding Fathers’ original vision of widespread land ownership. In the country’s early days, capital mostly consisted of land holdings, and there were a host of government programs dedicated to making owning it more accessible. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison all believed men should have their own farms, and thereby be self-sustaining citizens. Abraham Lincoln, too, supported the idea with the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted citizens 160 acres of government land to cultivate.

    “Why isn’t our plan radical?” Blasi asks. “Because the founders of the American revolution had this view. That broad-based capital ownership was necessary for the republic to exist.”

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