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阔人们,请看看豪车外的世界吧!

John Cassidy 2011年11月09日

美国的金融精英们所传递出的信息很明白:他们就是搞不明白。

    两个月前,“占领华尔街”运动(Occupy Wall Street)刚刚进驻位于曼哈顿下城的祖科蒂公园(Zuccotti Park)。两个月后,它已迅速演变成一场全美性运动,席卷了从迈阿密到西雅图的众多城市。随着冬季即将到来,一些地方警局开始驱赶示威者,这场抗议运动的前景并不明朗。但从某种意义上,这并不重要。不管这些声称代表99%人群的示威者和他们的露营地未来怎样,美国的商界领袖们都需要认真思考这场运动暴露出来的问题。

    推动“占领华尔街”运动迅速蔓延的怒火依然没有消退。民意调查显示,多达半数的美国人支持这些示威者,或者至少认为他们代表了公众的意见。从很多方面看,声称代表99%人群的示威者们利用的正是当初推动茶党(Tea Party)崛起的因素,也就是说同样是民众的不满情绪——民众普遍认为,商界和政界都被一小撮圈内人所操纵,特别是与华尔街有关联的人。左翼和右翼的极端人士夸大了这一情形,但听起来确实是这么一回事,这可能导致美国两党政治立场的转向,调转矛头,指向大企业。别再批评奥巴马政府在推动华尔街改革和抑制贫富差距方面的温和动作,身处1%阵营的杰米•戴蒙们和丹尼尔•勒布们应该从豪车里向外看看,眼下美国正在发生的事情。(杰米•戴蒙和丹尼尔•勒布分别是摩根大通和Third Point LLC对冲基金公司的首席执行官。——译注)

    多年来普通民众只是眼睁睁的看着收入增长停滞,工作被转移到了中国,少数幸运儿也要像中世纪的十字军一样出征海外。每一年,记者们(包括笔者)都能从美国人口局(Census Bureau)的最新数据中看到,最富有的1%人群所持有的全美财富比例越来越高。(美国国会预算办公室(Congressional Budget Office)的一项新研究显示,1979年至2007年期间,这一比例从不到 8%上升到了17%。)尽管如此,天下依然太平。当时的美国似乎完全背离了“社会不公扩大最终会导致社会动荡、政局不稳”的历史真理。现在情况变了。经过了金融危机、救助方案和大萧条后,社会不公最终成为了一个突出的问题。越来越多的1%成员遭到质问,他们到底是从哪里赚到的这么多钱。

    对于努力工作、勇于承担风险并创造价值的人们,大多数美国人并不嫉妒他们创造的巨额财富。人们对史蒂芬•乔布斯铺天盖地的溢美之词就是一个明证,说明伟大的企业家仍然备受推崇。但这里有一个不成文的社会契约,即回报应基于个人的努力和成就。如果现在很多美国人认为,美国企业界已违背了这一契约,有什么可奇怪的吗?在很多大公司,高管们更感兴趣的似乎是如何塞满个人腰包,而不是公司的长远发展。巨额薪酬还只是个引子。想想轻信的董事会、粉饰盈利的帐本、举报人被封口、为高管提供丰厚离职补偿金的黄金降落伞制度等等,最终付出昂贵代价的却是纳税人。真正奇怪的是为什么经过了这么长的时间公众的怒气才开始爆发。

    近来一些商界领袖的行为显示他们已意识到了推动这次运动的因素是什么。沃伦•巴菲特已表示,他应该缴纳更多的税。花旗集团(Citigroup)首席执行官潘伟迪在接受《财富》杂志(Fortune)采访时提出愿意与抗议者会面,承认华尔街已失去公众的信任。花旗和其他大型银行也已经明智地决定,不效法美国银行(Bank of America)收取借记卡服务费的做法。但金融业内太多人依然我行我素,仿佛时间依然停留在2007年。无论是抱怨奥巴马是一个隐蔽的社会主义者的投资银行家们,抑或是向着“占领华尔街”示威者们高呼“去找份工作吧”的沃顿(Wharton)学生们,还是曾经温和但正在利用资金和影响力试图保留乔治•布什时代富人减税政策的美国商会(Chamber of Commerce),他们传递出来的信息都是一样的:我们不明白!

    对于金融界精英们而言,说到底他们的特权有赖于所有其他人的默许,针锋相对是愚蠢而危险的行为。哪怕是为了自己着想,1%阵营也应该有点头脑。

    --John Cassidy是《财富》杂志供稿人,《纽约客》(New Yorker)杂志的在编撰稿人。

    Just two months after taking over Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street has mushroomed into a national movement, with offshoots in cities from Miami to Seattle. With winter coming on and some local police departments moving to clear out the demonstrators, it isn't clear where the protest goes from here. In one sense it doesn't matter. Regardless of what happens to the 99ers and their encampments, American business leaders need to take seriously what the lessons are for them.

    The anger that fueled Occupy Wall Street's rapid growth isn't going away. Polls show that up to half of Americans support the demonstrators or at least believe they reflect public opinion. In many ways the 99ers are drawing on the same popular sentiment that gave rise to the Tea Party: a perception that business and politics are rigged in favor of a privileged clique of insiders, particularly those connected to Wall Street. Extremists on the left and the right exaggerate that picture, but it rings true enough to provide the makings of a political swing against big business that could sweep up the two main parties. Instead of criticizing the Obama administration's modest efforts to reform Wall Street and rein in excesses, the Jamie Dimons and Daniel Loebs of this world should be looking out of their limos at what is happening in America.

    For years ordinary citizens looked on impassively as their incomes stagnated, their jobs were shipped to China, and a few lucky folks made out like medieval crusaders. Every year journalists (myself included) would point to the latest Census Bureau data showing that the top 1% of earners were taking a bigger and bigger share of the national pie. (Between 1979 and 2007, says a new Congressional Budget Office study, it went from less than 8% to 17%.) And nothing would happen. The U.S. seemed to be defying the historical truism that rising inequality eventually leads to social and political unrest. Not anymore. With the financial crisis, the bailouts, and the Great Recession, inequality has finally emerged as a potent issue. Increasingly members of the 1% are being asked where they got their sacks of gold.

    Most Americans don't begrudge great riches to anybody who works hard, takes real risks, and creates things of value. As evidenced by the positive outpouring for Steve Jobs, great entrepreneurs are still celebrated. But there is an implicit social contract that links rewards to effort and accomplishment. If many people now believe that corporate America has violated that contract, is it surprising? At many big corporations, the senior managers have seemed more interested in stuffing their pockets than building for the long term. Gargantuan pay packages are only the start of it. Think boards of directors packed with patsies, books cooked to juice earnings, potential whistleblowers silenced, golden parachutes, and finally taxpayers obliged to save expensively tanned hides. The thing that is really surprising is that it has taken this long for public anger to well up.

    Lately some corporate leaders have shown they understand what is driving the outcry. Warren Buffett said he should pay higher taxes. Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citicorp (C), offered in a Fortune interview to meet with the protesters, acknowledging a lack of trust in Wall Street. Citi and other big banks wisely chose not to follow the lead of Bank of America (BAC) in imposing fees for using debit cards. But too many people in finance are acting as if it were 2007. Whether it is investment bankers griping about Obama being a closet socialist, Wharton MBA students chanting "Get a job" to OWS protestors, or the Chamber of Commerce, once a moderate voice, using its money and clout to try to preserve George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich, the message conveyed is the same: We don't get it!

    For an economic elite whose perquisites ultimately depend on the acquiescence of everybody else, it is a silly and dangerous pose to strike. If only for its own sake, the 1% needs to show a bit of nous.

    --John Cassidy is a Fortune contributor and a New Yorker staff writer.

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