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生活 - 专栏

亨利族:收入很高,但从未富有过,将来也很难富起来

Shawn Tully 2019年11月04日

他们的生活过得不错,没有人会觉得他们混得惨,但他们永远不会发财。

这两人不是“高薪未富者”。那些人会坐二等舱,这样才能供两个孩子上私立学校。图片来源:Getty Images
 

在金融危机之前,笔者坐在庄严的时代生活大厦(Time & Life Building)的办公室里,绞尽脑汁地为新涌现出来的一批千禧一代的高收入者起个缩写名。该群体的特点在于,即使家里有两个能挣钱的人,合计收入很高,但他们要面对高额的税费和他们认为的必要支出,以至于他们从未富有过,将来也很难富有起来。

随后,这个标签触动了我——没有玩文字游戏,没有刻意押韵。这个灵感让我想起了温斯顿·丘吉尔所说的“脑海中的闪电”。我大声欢呼:“他们是‘亨利族’(HENRY),高薪未富者。”因此,“高薪未富者”成为了我在2008年11月27日讲述的故事“看看谁为救市买单”中的主角、英雄。这个题目指的是即将上台的奥巴马政府提出的增加税收政策。

我必须补充一句,这种震撼的灵感时刻很少出现。虽然这些年来专家偶尔会借用这一术语,但它并未如我所愿,产生定义一代人的影响力。

不过情况也许不一样了。你可以想象我在曼哈顿闹市区的健身俱乐部(这里有许多“高薪未富者”在保持体型)里骑着动感单车时的惊讶之情。和往常一样,我这个婴儿潮一代的人,以我很多X世代和Y世代同事所谓的“睡眠速度”踩着踏板。随后,阅读架上放着的《纽约邮报》(New York Post)的头版,却让我骑得像旁边单车上的X世代一样迅速。这个小报左上角的栏目调侃道“年薪10万美元的穷人,看看‘高薪未富者’吧”。我迅速把报纸翻到第35版,看到了另一个时尚标题“噢Instagram,我会富有吗?可怜的家伙!”“可怜的家伙”成了《纽约邮报》(和我)对“高薪未富者”的挖苦性描述。

这篇文章描绘了一位32岁的律师如何领着“六位数”的收入却活成了月光族,而收入10万美元至25万美元的单身千禧一代“喜爱奢侈品,承受着在社交媒体上维持富有人设的压力,又是如何手头拮据而像个‘高薪未富者’的”。

这是个很棒的故事。不过我那个故事从另一个角度探寻了他们的窘境。我当时描绘的是有两个孩子,年收入25万至50万的家庭,许多政客将这种情况描绘为“富有”。但实际上,“富有”指的是净资产,是你的储蓄,它包括银行存款、股票和债券,以及房屋资产,而不是你的收入。我发现,这些收入丰厚的家庭需要为他们郊区的豪宅支付数量不菲的抵押贷款和税费,这是联邦和国家收入的重要来源,还要每年为两个孩子支付2万美元供他们上私立学校,持续十多年甚至二十多年。因此,他们在退休前的存款远远达不到“富裕”的程度。

在未来十年里,这个努力工作的群体只会越来越困难。他们不是投资银行家、首席执行官或首席财务官,他们是美国这个经济体中的审计员、副财务主管、家乡律师或中上层的管理者。他们的生活过得不错,没有人会觉得他们混得惨,但他们永远不会变得富有。实际上,我在自己的那篇文章中给了他们一个更加合适的头衔,法语版本的“亨利”(HENRI),“高薪不富”。

《纽约邮报》确实提到,这个术语最早出现在《财富》杂志2003年的一篇文章里,这一点让我很欣赏(尽管那个故事是在2008年登载的)。里面没有提到我的名字。嘿,这没有关系。《纽约邮报》可能有助于把“高薪未富者”推广为一种小型文化现象。某种程度上,我被选定为一位荣耀的千禧一代。忽然,我觉得年轻了起来,可以再来一次动感单车课程了。(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

Just psrior to the financial crisis, this writer was sitting in Fortune’s offices in the venerable Time & Life Building trying to coin an acronym for a new class of affluent millennials. The concept was that even though this cohort of two-earner families make big combined salaries, they’re faced with such big outlays for taxes and expenses they deem essential that they’ll never, ever become wealthy.

Then the label hit me—no playing with words, no striving for rhymes. The flash reminded me of what Winston Churchill called “lightning across the brain.” “They’re the HENRY’s, the High Earners Not Rich Yet,” I crowed out loud. And that’s how the HENRYs became the subject, the heroes really, of my November 27, 2008 story, “Look Who Pays for the Bailout,” referring to new tax increases proposed by the incoming Obama Administration.

That kind of thunderous illumination, I must add, rarely strikes. And though experts in intervening years occasionally borrowed the term, it didn’t get the generation-defining traction I’d hoped for.

Maybe that’s changing. Imagine my surprise today while mounting the exercise bike at my health club in downtown Manhattan, where lots of HENRYs stay in shape. As usual, this Baby Boomer was pedaling at a pace my Gen-Y and Gen-X co-workers might call “slumber speed.” Then, the front page of the New York Post, poised on the reading stand, got me pumping like the Gen-Xer on the next bike. The headline in the tabloid’s upper-left quadrant teased, “Poor on $100K, Meet the H.E.N.R.Y.s.” Speed-thumbing to the piece on page 35, I encountered a second, hipper headline, “Oh Instagram, When Will I Be Rich? Poor Things!” The “Poor Things” being the Post’s satirical characterization of the (or my) HENRYs.

The piece chronicles how an attorney, age 32, making “six figures” lives from paycheck to paycheck, and how single millennials earning between $100,000 and $250,000 are folks whose “taste for luxury—and pressure to keep up with their well-heeled buds on social media—has some HENRYs feeling more strapped than stacked.”

It’s a great story. But my piece approached their plight differently. I was writing about families with combined total incomes $250,000 to $500,000 a year and a couple of children, a demo that many politicians characterized as “rich.” In fact, the term “rich” refers to your net worth, the nest egg consisting of your cash savings in bank accounts, stocks and bonds, plus the equity in your house, not your income. I found that these well-paid families shoulder such high burdens covering the mortgages payments and taxes on their suburban colonials and tudors, the big take from federal and state levies, and the $20,000 or so they save to send two kids to private colleges a decade or two for now, that they will never generate savings sufficient enough to retire remotely “rich.”

In the ensuing decade, times have only gotten tougher for this hard working group. They’re not investment bankers or CEOs or CFOs, they’re the auditors, assistant treasurers, hometown attorneys and upper-middle managers that power America’s economy. They enjoy a nice lifestyle and no one should feel sorry for them, but they’ll never be rich. In fact, I suggested in my story that a more appropriate title might be Gallic version HENRIs, for “high earners, not rich indefinitely.”

The Post story did mention that “the term was first coined in a 2003 Fortune magazine article,” which I appreciated (even though the story appeared in 2008). It didn’t mention my name. Hey, no problem. The Post may help to launch the HENRYs as mini-cultural phenomenon. In a way, I’ve been anointed as an honorary millennial. Suddenly, I feel younger. A spinning class may be next.

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