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贫富分化导致美国人权问题日益严重

发布者: 千缘 | 发布时间: 2020-7-16 02:01| 查看数: 77| 评论数: 0|

贫富分化导致美国人权问题日益严重

The Growing Division Between the Rich and the Poor Leading to Increasingly Severe Human Rights Issues in the United States

中国人权研究会

The China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS)

2020年7月

July 2020

美国虽然号称世界第一强国,但却非人人富足。揭开美国整体富强的面纱,看到的是贫富严重分化的冷酷现实。联合国极端贫困与人权问题特别报告员菲利普·奥尔斯顿在2018年5月发表的访美报告中指出,美国已经沦为贫富分化最严重的西方国家,约4000万美国人生活在贫困中,1850万美国人生活在极端贫困中,超过500万人的生活状态同第三世界绝对贫困人群相当。2020年新冠肺炎疫情暴发以来,美国政府应对疫情不力导致严重的人权灾难,美国社会的经济不平等进一步暴露和加剧,底层民众陷入更为艰难的生存困境。

Although the United States claims to be the greatest power in the world, it fails to make all its citizens live comfortably. Under the cover of overall prosperity in the United States, the harsh reality is the serious division between the rich and the poor in the country. In his report on his visit to the US, which was released in May 2018, Philip Alston, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, pointed out that the United States has the widest gap between the rich and the poor among all Western countries. According to the report, about 40 million US citizens live in poverty, and among them, 18.5 million live in extreme poverty. More than 5 million US citizens live in a state comparable to that of the absolutely poor in the third world. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the US government’s ineffective anti-pandemic efforts have led the American people into grave human rights disasters, which have further highlighted and exacerbated the existing social and economic inequality within US society.

一、美国贫富持续分化的基本趋势

Part 1 Basic Trends Reflecting the Continuously Widening Division Between the Rich and the Poor in the United States

收入分配两极分化。皮尤研究中心2018年7月12日公布的调查结果显示,自20世纪70年代以来,美国贫富差距呈显著扩大趋势。美国商务部数据显示,2019年5月,美国基尼系数达0.482,远超0.4的国际“警戒线”。世界社会主义网站2016年12月公布的研究数据显示,2014年,占美国人口50%的低收入人口的人均年收入为16200美元,几乎与1980年持平;而同期占人口1%的高收入者人均年收入却增长了3倍,高收入阶层平均一年的收入相当于普通工人一辈子收入的总和。《商业内幕》网站2016年8月15日披露,扣除价格因素,从1978年到2015年,美国最大的350家公司的首席执行官的薪酬增长了约940%,普通工人的薪酬则只增长了10%。《波士顿评论》网站2017年9月1日报道,在此前的40年间,美国80%中低收入人口的收入仅增长了约25%,而20%高收入人口的收入却几乎翻了一番。《商业内幕》网站2017年1月报道,德意志银行首席国际经济学家托斯坦·斯洛克以收入水平来计算美国家庭财富的报告显示,美国最富有0.1%家庭的财富相当于最底层90%家庭所拥有财富的总和。

The United States has a high level of income polarization. The survey results released by the Pew Research Center on July 12, 2018, show that the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has expanded significantly since the 1970s. According to the data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Gini coefficient for the United States reached 0.482 in May 2019, far exceeding the internationally recognized “warning line” of 0.4. The research data published by the World Socialist Web Site in December 2016 show that in 2014, the per-capita annual income of low-income US citizens, who accounted for 50 percent of the US population, was US$16,200, which was almost flat compared with the number in the 1980s, but the per-capita annual income of the top 1 percent high-income US citizens increased threefold over the same period. The research data also show that in 2014, the per-capita annual income of the high-income group equaled an ordinary worker’s lifetime income. The Business Insider website disclosed on August 15, 2016, that after deducting price factors, from 1978 to 2015, the salaries of the CEOs of the 350 largest companies in the United States increased by about 940 percent, while the salaries of ordinary workers increased by only 10 percent. The website of Boston Review reported on September 1, 2017, that in the recent 40 years, the income of the low- and middle-income groups, which accounted for about 80 percent of the US population, had increased by only about 25 percent, while the income of the high-income group, which accounted for about 20 percent of the US population, had almost doubled. As reported by the Business Insider website in January 2017, Torsten Slok, Chief International Economist of Deutsche Bank, found out that the wealth of the top 0.1 percent US households equaled the wealth of the bottom 90 percent of the US households when calculating the wealth of US households based on income levels.

中产阶级规模持续萎缩。美联社2016年5月13日报道,美国90%城市中的中产阶级境况趋于恶化,不少美国家庭掉出中产阶级行列。盖洛普公司2016年9月20日发布的研究报告显示,将自己定位为中产阶级或中上阶级的美国人从2000年至2008年的平均61%降到了2016年的51%,这意味着2500万人的经济生活质量急剧下滑。皮尤研究中心2016年5月11日发布的报告显示,在近25%的大都市中,中产阶级不再占据多数。

The size of the middle class in the United States continues to shrink. As reported by the Associated Press on May 13, 2016, 90 percent of households from the urban middle class in the United States were faced with increasingly worse situations, and many of them fell out of the middle class. A research report published by Gallup on September 20, 2016, shows that the percentage of US citizens who categorize themselves as being middle or upper-middle class has dropped from an average of 61 percent between 2000 and 2008 to 51 percent in 2016. This means that the quality of economic life for about 25 million US citizens has plummeted drastically. A report released by the Pew Research Center on May 11, 2016, shows that the middle class no longer holds the majority in nearly 25 percent of metropolises in the United States.

贫困率居高不下。美国人口普查局2018年的统计数据显示,美国贫困人口达3810万,贫困率为11.8%。美国政策研究所2018年的报告称,美国官方公布的贫困率存在低估现象。据其估算,美国总人口的43.5%(约1.4亿人)生活拮据或收入低微。斯坦福大学贫困与不平等研究中心2017年发布的报告显示,美国南部农村的整体贫困率为20%,那里的非洲裔美国人的贫困率是33%,非洲裔妇女的贫困率高达37%。在美国西部农村,原住民的贫困率高达32%。

Poverty rates remain high in the United States. Statistics from the United States Census Bureau in 2018 show that the number of poor people in the United States reached 38.1 million, with a poverty rate of 11.8 percent. The 2018 annual report made by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) stated that there was an underestimation in the officially published US poverty rates, and it estimated that 43.5 percent of the US population (about 140 million people) live in straitened circumstances or earn a low income. According to a report released by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality in 2017, the overall poverty rate in rural areas in the southern United States is 20 percent, and the poverty rates for African Americans and for African-American women in this region are 33 percent and 37 percent, respectively. In the rural areas of the western United States, the poverty rate for Native Americans is as high as 32 percent.

二、贫富分化对人权的享有和实现产生了严重的负面影响

Part 2 The Division Between the Rich and the Poor Bringing Severe Adverse Effects on the Enjoyment and Realization of Human Rights

近半美国家庭无法维持基本生活。《今日美国报》网站2018年11月19日报道,超过500万全年从事全职工作的美国人的年收入低于1.5万美元的贫困线,其中有许多人还要供养家庭和子女。美联储2018年发布的报告显示,43%的美国家庭入不敷出,只能借债支付住房、食品、儿童护理、医疗、交通和通讯费用。40%的美国人拿不出400美元的可支配收入来支付医疗急救或汽车修理等意外开支。成千上万的年轻人因付不起学费而上不了大学,数百万人不得不背负沉重的学生债务。由于长期贫富分化和结构性歧视,美国工薪阶层抵御风险的能力大大减弱,在新冠肺炎疫情带来的经济冲击下陷入生存危机。根据美国劳工部2020年5月28日公布的数据,美国3月15日至5月23日累计首次申请失业救济人数达4080万。沃克斯新闻网2020年4月10日报道指出,那些本已是最脆弱的群体首当其冲地受到疫情带来的经济影响。“最容易遭受裁员的人正是那些薪水最低的人,例如餐饮业和零售业的低薪工人。”虽然美国政府也推出了旨在援助中小企业的“薪资保护计划”,但一些资金较充裕的大企业却利用规则漏洞趁机获得巨额贷款,而一些亟需贷款“续命”的小企业、小商铺却无法得到救助,不得不关闭或裁员。

Nearly half of US households are unable to maintain an adequate standard of living. As reported by the website of USA Today on November 19, 2018, more than 5 million US citizens who worked full-time throughout the year earned an annual income below the US$15,000 poverty line, and many of them still had to support their families and children. According to a report released by the Federal Reserve in 2018, 43 percent of US households were unable to make ends meet and could only rely on loans to pay for housing, food, child care, medical care, transportation, and communication; 40 percent of US citizens did not have US$400 disposable income to cover accidental expenses such as medical emergencies or car repairs; hundreds of thousands of young people could not afford to go to college or university, and millions of people had to take on the heavy student debts. Given the long-existing structural discrimination and polarization between the rich and the poor, the US working class’s ability to resist risks has been greatly diminished. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, which were released on May 28, 2020, the total number of US people who filed their initial claim for unemployment benefits between March 15 and May 23 reached 40.8 million. Vox News pointed out on April 10 that it was the most vulnerable groups that bore the brunt of the economic impact brought by the recent pandemic. According to the report, during the pandemic, the people who are most vulnerable amid layoffs are those who earn the lowest salaries, such as low-wage workers in the catering and retail industries. When the US government launched the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), which was intended to help small- and medium-sized enterprises, some large companies with sufficient funds took advantage of the rule loopholes to acquire huge loans, but small businesses and small shops that urgently needed loans to sustain themselves could only announce closures or layoffs, since they could not get the help.

低收入群体面临饥饿威胁。在经济已经高度发达的美国,很多公民却依然面临饥饿威胁。根据美国农业部2015年发布的数据,大约20%的儿童生活在食品保障不足的家庭。英国《卫报》网站2015年11月26日报道,2008年至2014年间,美国每年至少有4810万人口被划为“食物无保障者”,其中包括19.2%有孩子的家庭,这意味着他们的均衡饮食难以保障。《今日美国报》网站2014年8月17日报道,过高的贫困率导致约14%的美国人依赖食物赈济。在依赖食物赈济的人口中,65%的家庭至少有一个不满18岁的孩子或超过60岁的老人,79%的人购买廉价的不卫生的食物以养活其家庭。饥饿和营养不良使美国每年多花1600亿美元来治疗慢性病。据美国疾病预防与控制中心2015年的估计,每年有4800万人会患上食源性疾病,其中12.8万人需要住院治疗,3000人因此丧命。福布斯新闻网2020年5月7日报道,调查显示,大量美国儿童在新冠肺炎疫情中面临饥饿问题。截至2020年4月底,五分之一以上的美国家庭面临食品危机;在拥有12岁以下儿童的美国家庭中,面临食品危机的比例高达五分之二。

Low-income groups are faced with the threat of hunger in the United States, even when this country’s economy is already highly developed. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2015, about 20 percent of children live in food-insufficient households in the United States. As reported by the website of the British newspaper The Guardian on November 26, 2015, between 2008 and 2014, at least 48.1 million US households were classified as “food-insecure” each year, and 19.2 percent of these “food-insecure” households had children who could hardly have healthy balanced diets. On August 17, 2014, the website of USA Today reported that excessively high poverty rates have led to about 14 percent of US citizens relying on food aid. Among the households that rely on food aid, 65 percent of them have at least one child under the age of 18 or an elderly person over the age of 60, and 79 percent of them buy cheap and unhygienic food to support their families. Hunger and malnutrition cost the United States more than US$160 billion a year to treat chronic diseases. According to estimates made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015, 48 million US citizens would develop food-borne illnesses each year, of which 128,000 would need hospitalization and 3,000 would die as a result of such diseases. Forbes News reported on May 7, 2020, that a survey showed that a large number of American children were facing hunger during the pandemic. According to the survey, as of the end of this April, more than one-fifth of American households had been facing food crises, and as many as two-fifths of American households with children under 12 years of age had been facing such crises.

无家可归者生存状况恶劣。英国《卫报》网站2017年2月24日报道,美国每年都有数百万人因交不起房租而被赶出住房。路透社网站2015年11月20日报道,由于大部分地区保障性住房供应不足及经济复苏乏力,美国有超过56.5万人无家可归,其中四分之一的人是儿童。洛杉矶、西雅图、波特兰和夏威夷州近年来都曾因无家可归者增多而宣布进入紧急状态。英国《卫报》网站2017年12月6日报道,纽约的无家可归者比2016年增长了4.1%。无家可归者的生存状况极为恶劣。许多无家可归者急需医疗救助并患有精神疾病。露宿街头的无家可归者普遍面临着暴力泛滥、缺乏如厕和洗澡场所等问题。新冠肺炎疫情期间,流落街头的无家可归者遭到严厉驱逐,被迫住进临时收容所隔离。路透社网站2020年4月23日报道,美国各地的无家可归收容所因人员拥挤而难以保持社交距离,使得病毒极易传播。《纽约时报》网站4月13日报道称,无家可归者收容所成为纽约市疫情的“定时炸弹”,超过1.7万人住在为单身成年人准备的集中收容所中,睡在床上几乎可以手碰手。《自然》杂志网站5月7日报道,研究人员开始对美国无家可归者进行病毒检测时发现,那里的情况已经失控。《洛杉矶时报》网站5月14日报道,研究显示美国的无家可归者数量受疫情影响可能一年内激增高达45%,导致公共卫生危机进一步加剧。

The homeless are living in poor conditions in the United States. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on February 24, 2017, that millions of people in the United States were driven out of their homes every year because they could not afford to pay the rent. Reuters website reported on November 20, 2015, that due to inadequate supply of affordable housing and weak economic recovery in most regions, more than 565,000 people were homeless in the United States, a quarter of whom were children. Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and Hawaii have all declared a state of emergency in recent years due to an increasing number of the homeless. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on December 6, 2017, that the number of homeless in New York City increased by 4.1 percent in 2016. The living conditions of the homeless are extremely poor, and many of these homeless people urgently need medical assistance or suffer from mental illness. Homeless people who live on the streets face problems such as widespread violence and lack of toilets and bathing facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the homeless people living on the streets have been relocated and forced to live in temporary shelters for isolation. The website of Reuters reported on April 23 that in the crowded shelters offered by the US government, it was impossible for the homeless staying there to practice social distancing, which made it easier for the virus to spread. The website of the New York Times pointed out on April 13 that the shelters for the homeless became a delayed-action bomb of a virus outbreak in New York City, as more than 17,000 people lived and slept almost side by side in those centralized shelters. The website of Nature magazine reported on May 7 that when researchers began conducting virus testing on homeless people in the United States, they found that the situation there had gotten out of control. The website of the Los Angeles Times reported on May 14 that research showed that due to the impact of the pandemic, the number of homeless people in the United States might surge by as much as 45 percent within a year, further exacerbating the public health crisis.

贫困压力导致民众健康状况下降。联合国极端贫困与人权问题特别报告员菲利普·奥尔斯顿在其访美报告中指出,美国与同等发展水平国家之间的“健康差距”继续拉大,其国民预期寿命更短,更容易得病身亡。法新社2015年10月14日报道,生活在纽约市布鲁克林区布朗斯维尔街区的居民中,76%是非洲裔,近40%的人生活在贫困线以下,新感染艾滋病毒的比率是全市的2倍多,人均预期寿命比曼哈顿金融区的居民少11岁。《医学报刊》网站2017年6月13日报道,美国有1570万人酗酒,770万人滥用违禁药物。美国哥伦比亚广播公司网站2017年6月6日报道,过量用药成为当今五十岁以下美国人死亡的首要原因。美国疾病预防与控制中心2017年12月发布的报告显示,2016年美国有超过63600人因药物过量而死亡。

The poverty-induced stress makes the US people suffer from deterioration in their overall health. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, pointed out in his report on his visit to the United States that the “health gap” between the United States and countries with the same level of development continues to widen, as the US citizens have shorter life expectancy and are more likely to die of illness. A report on the residents living in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, which was made by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on October 14, 2015, showed that 76 percent of the residents were African Americans and nearly 40 percent of the residents lived below the poverty line and that these residents are more than twice as likely to become HIV-infected and their average life expectancy is 11 years shorter than that of the residents living in the Financial District, Manhattan. The Medical News website reported on June 13, 2017, that 15.7 million people in the United States are alcoholics and 7.7 million abuse illegal drugs. The CBS website reported on June 6, 2017, that overdose had become the leading cause of death among US citizens under the age of 50. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in December 2017 showed that more than 63,600 people in the United States died from a drug overdose in 2016.

因贫失去医疗保险者无力支付医疗费用。盖洛普公司2018年11月1日至11日进行的年度健康与医疗调查显示,46%的受访者担心没有足够的钱来支付医疗费用。美国城市研究所2018年的一份研究报告显示,得克萨斯州65岁以下没有医疗保险的居民人数多达470万,比例高达19%。美国家庭联盟的消费者权益保护组织2012年6月20日发布报告称,2010年,美国有26100名年龄在25到64岁之间的劳动人口由于缺乏医疗保险而丧命,比2000年增加31%。这意味着美国平均每天有72人、每小时有3人因为缺乏医疗保险而失去生命。英国《卫报》网站2017年11月13日报道,由于面临失去医疗保险的风险,越来越多的美国人无法退出工作岗位,被迫陷入经济学家所说的“职业锁定”状态。《大西洋月刊》网站2020年4月报道,美国低收入人群患病后,“通常会延迟去看医生,不是因为他们不想康复,而是因为根本没有钱”。面对新冠肺炎疫情,美国有数千万人没有医疗保险,而新冠肺炎重症监护费用却高达数万美元。“生存还是毁灭”,并不只是文学作品中的生命哲学,也是美国底层民众面临的现实抉择。

US citizens who have lost their medical insurance due to poverty cannot afford medical expenses. Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare survey, conducted between November 1 and 11, 2018, showed that 46 percent of respondents were concerned that they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. A research study by the Urban Institute in the United States in 2018 showed that Texas had as many as 4.7 million residents under the age of 65 who did not have medical insurance, accounting for 19 percent of its population. The consumer protection organization of Families USA released a report on June 20, 2012, saying that in 2010, 26,100 workers aged between 25 to 64 in the United States lost their lives due to lack of medical insurance, a 31-percent increase over 2000. This meant that in the United States, due to lack of medical insurance, an average of 72 people lost their lives every day and an average of three lives were lost every hour. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on November 13, 2017, that being afraid of losing health insurance, more and more US citizens could not quit their jobs and were forced into a state that was referred by the economists as “job lock”. The website of The Atlantic Monthly reported in April 2020 that low-income people in the United States would usually delay seeing a doctor when they became ill, not because they did not want to recover, but because they had no money at all. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of millions of people in the United States are not covered by medical insurance, when intensive care for novel coronavirus pneumonia costs as high as tens of thousands of dollars in the country. “To be or not to be” is not just a philosophical proposition of some literary work, but a realistic choice that the people at the bottom of US society have to make.

贫富分化导致人均预期寿命下降、自杀率上升。据美国国家健康统计中心2016年12月8日发布的数据,美国人的预期寿命出现总体下降,男性从2014年的76.5岁下降到76.3岁,女性则从81.3岁下降到81.2岁,总体人均预期寿命从78.9岁下降到78.8岁。与此同时,美国自杀率持续升高。据美国疾病预防与控制中心2014年发布的数据,2013年美国共有41149人自杀,比1999年增长约41%。在美国,每13分钟就有一人自杀。自杀成为导致死亡的第十大原因,是凶杀案的两倍以上。美国疾病预防与控制中心发布的《2015年致命伤害统计报告》显示,美国有980万成年人声称有自杀的想法,其中270万人有自杀计划,140万人采取了非致命的自杀尝试。

The division between the rich and the poor has led to a decline in the average life expectancy and increasing suicide rates in the United States. According to the data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the United States on December 8, 2016, the life expectancy of US citizens showed a general downward trend compared to the numbers of 2014, with US men’s life expectancy falling from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 years; US women’s life expectancy falling from 81.3 to 81.2 years; all US citizens’ life expectancy falling from 78.9 to 78.8. In the meantime, the US suicide rates continued increasing. According to the data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014, there were 41,149 suicides in the United States in 2013, an increase of about 41 percent over 1999. There is a suicide in the United States every 13 minutes, and suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the country, causing over twice as many human deaths than by homicide. According to the CDC’s Fatal Injury Report 2015, in the United States, there were 9.8 million adults claiming suicidal thoughts, and among them, 2.7 million had suicide plans, and 1.4 million made nonfatal suicide attempts.

低收入人群失去平等的受教育机会。美国高等教育资源总是不成比例地向富人倾斜,导致公众对高等教育的不满不断上升。《华盛顿邮报》网站2018年10月10日报道,美国不同家庭出生的孩子智商分布基本一致,但出生于富裕家庭的孩子成功概率更高。高收入家庭的孩子即使天分较差,也比低收入家庭的聪明孩子更容易获得大学文凭。《纽约时报》的报道指出,在包括耶鲁大学、普林斯顿大学、宾夕法尼亚大学等名校在内的38所美国大学中,来自收入水平处于前1%美国家庭的学生数量多于来自收入水平处于后60%美国家庭的学生的总和。盖洛普公司2018年10月发布的一项调查结果显示,只有不到一半的美国民众对高等教育体系持有信心。联合国极端贫困与人权问题特别报告员菲利普·奥尔斯顿在2018年5月发表的访美报告中指出,美国的社会代际流动性在富裕国家中处于最低水平,“美国梦正在迅速蜕变成美国幻想”。

Low-income groups cannot enjoy equal opportunities for education in the United States. Rich people always have significant advantages in obtaining higher education resources, which leads to an increasing public dissatisfaction with the US higher education system. As reported by the website of The Washington Post on October 10, 2018, although the distribution of IQ scores has a normal shape in both the group of children born into rich families and the group born into poor families, the former group is more likely to succeed. According to the report, the less-gifted children of high-income parents are more likely to get college diplomas than better-gifted children of low-income parents. As reported by The New York Times, in 38 US universities including famous universities such as Yale University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, the total number of students from the top 1 percent of US households is greater than the total number of students from the bottom 60 percent of US households. A survey published by Gallup in October 2018 showed that only less than half of the US population had confidence in the US higher education system. In his report published in May 2018 on his visit to the United States, Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, pointed out that among all the affluent countries in the world, the United States had the lowest intergenerational social mobility, and that the American Dream was rapidly transforming into the “American Illusion”.

贫困儿童和单身母亲生活困苦。英国广播公司2017年12月11日报道,2016年数据显示,美国约有1330万贫困儿童,占18岁以下人口的18%。美国城市研究所网站2017年5月18日报道,将近900万儿童在持续贫困的家庭中成长,占美国儿童总人口的11.8%。长期贫困的儿童成年后经济状况获得改善的可能性显著低于不贫困和较不贫困的同龄人。美国许多单身母亲及其家庭生活艰难。单身母亲指南网站2016年9月17日报道,在超过960万的单身母亲中,有23.2%是全年失业的。在被解雇或正在找工作的单身母亲中,只有22.4%能够领到失业救济金。大约有783万由单身妈妈抚养的儿童生活在贫困线以下。

Poor children and single mothers have a hard time in the United States. The BBC reported on December 11, 2017, that according to 2016 figures, there were 13.3 million poor children in the United States, accounting for 18 percent of the US population under the age of 18. The website of the Urban Institute reported on May 18, 2017, that nearly 9 million children grew up in persistently poor households, accounting for 11.8 percent of the total US child population, and in the meantime, these persistently poor children were significantly less likely to improve their economic status than their non-poor and less-poor peers after they come of age. Many single mothers and their families in the United States live a difficult life. The Single Mothers Survival Guide website reported on September 17, 2016, that among the more than 9.6 million single US mothers, 23.2 percent were unemployed throughout the year and only 22.4 percent of the single mothers who were fired or looking for jobs could receive unemployment benefits, and that about 7.83 million children raised by single mothers lived below the poverty line.

三、美国的贫富分化问题难以解决

Part 3 The Division Between the Rich and the Poor Remaining a Difficult Problem to Solve in the United States

导致美国贫富分化的原因并非是偶然性或周期性的,美国的所谓民主制度忽视公民的经济、社会和文化权利,导致美国社会贫富分化问题日趋严重,数千万人口的贫困问题长期得不到解决。

The causes of the division between the rich and the poor in the United States are not something occasional or periodic. The so-called US democratic system deprives its citizens of economic, social, and cultural rights, leading to a growing gap between the rich and the poor and the long-unsolved problem of poverty that affects tens of millions of people.

(一)导致贫富分化的结构性原因

(1) Structural Causes Leading to the Division Between the Rich and the Poor

第一,资本市场的无序竞争和恶意收购导致中等收入工作岗位减少。盖洛普公司网站2016年9月20日报道,企业高价收购竞争对手导致中等收入工作岗位大幅度减少。此前的20年间,美国证券交易所上市公司的数量已经从约7300家锐减为3700家左右。美国近年来小企业的破产数量大于新成立的数量。英国《卫报》网站2017年12月8日报道,2017年美国年轻人的失业率高达15.9%。全职就业岗位不足,约有480万想做全职工作的人只能从事非全职工作。

First, disorderly competition in the capital market and hostile takeovers have resulted in fewer middle-income jobs in the United States. The Gallup website reported on September 20, 2016, that high-priced acquisitions of rival businesses resulted in a significant reduction in middle-income jobs, and that in the recent 20 years, the number of companies listed on the American stock exchanges had plummeted from 7,300 to about 3,700, and bankrupted small businesses had significantly outnumbered newly-established ones in recent years. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on December 8, 2017, that in 2017, the unemployment rate of young US citizens was as high as 15.9 percent and that due to insufficient full-time jobs, about 4.8 million people who wanted to work full-time jobs could only engage in part-time jobs.

第二,住房价格的结构性上升导致低收入人群住房更加困难。美国全国房地产经纪人协会2018年对购房者进行的一项调查显示,由于住房价格上涨和利率上升,而负担能力下降,导致是否购房成为民众日益艰难的抉择。哈佛大学住房研究联合中心发布的《2018年美国住房状况》报告显示,在20个城市地区,超过30%的中产阶层家庭将他们至少30%的收入用于住房。《华盛顿邮报》网站2018年8月6日报道,城市贫穷居民近年来经历了房租的大幅上涨。自2011年以来,全国的最低房租增长了18%。特别值得关注的是,2017年夏季以来,在旧金山、亚特兰大、纳什维尔、芝加哥、费城、丹佛、匹兹堡、华盛顿、波特兰、俄勒冈州等地区,最高收入者的房租在下降,而最贫穷者的房租却在上涨。

Second, the structural rise in housing prices has made housing more unaffordable for low-income people in the United States. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors of the United States conducted a survey on home buyers and found that due to rising housing prices and interest rates, housing affordability declined and house purchasing was no longer an easy decision for home buyers. “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018” released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies showed that in 20 urban areas, more than 30 percent of middle-class households spent at least 30 percent of their incomes on housing. The website of The Washington Post reported on August 6, 2018, that poor urban residents had experienced sharp increases in rent in recent years. According to the report, since 2011, the nation’s minimum rent has increased by 18 percent, and it is particularly noteworthy that since the summer of 2017, in San Francisco, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Pittsburgh, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and other places, the rent for the high-income group has fallen, while the rent for the poorest group has risen.

第三,高价低效的医疗服务导致低收入人群健康状况堪忧。美国民众健康状况下降与美国医疗系统的高价低效密切相关。根据英联邦基金会2014年对医疗服务体系的调查,在11个同水平国家中,美国的医疗服务体系效率最低,最不公平,医疗产出最差。美国的死亡率和婴儿死亡率均为最高,60岁人群的健康状况最差。但与在上述其他国家生活的人相比,美国人却要负担两倍以上的医疗费用。英国《卫报》网站2017年11月13日报道,美国的医疗费用和医疗保险越来越贵,尤其是慢性疾病的治疗费用,从哮喘到癌症的药物价格不断创出历史新高。

Third, due to the high-priced, inefficient medical services, the health conditions of low-income US people have deteriorated. The deteriorating health conditions of the US people are closely related to the high-priced, inefficient US medical system. According to a survey on medical service systems conducted by the Commonwealth Foundation in 2014, among the 11 countries at the same developmental level, the United States had the least efficient, least productive, and most unfair medical service system, it also had the highest mortality rate and infant mortality rate, and its citizens aged 60 had the worst health conditions. Besides this, the survey also showed that US citizens paid twice as much for medical services as those living in the other 10 countries did. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on November 13, 2017, that medical costs and medical insurance in the United States were becoming increasingly expensive, especially those for the treatment of chronic diseases, and the prices of medicines treating asthma or cancer continued to hit record highs.

第四,高等教育收费飞涨剥夺了低收入群体接受高等教育的机会。盖洛普公司网站2017年8月3日报道,自1980年以来,没有任何可测指标证明美国高等教育质量提高,但收费却飞速增长。福布斯新闻网2017年2月21日报道,学生贷款债务成为仅次于抵押贷款债务的消费债务类别,高于信用卡和汽车贷款。有超过4400万名学生贷款上学,贷款额高达1.3万亿美元。2016级学生人均贷款37172美元。在一些地区,财政计划削减正在导致入学率下降。《芝加哥论坛报》网站2016年9月30日报道,很多州立大学新生入学人数大幅下降,例如,芝加哥州立大学的新生入学人数比2010年减少了一半,伊利诺斯大学新生人数比上一年下降约25%。华盛顿的一个无党派智库“预算和政策优先中心”2016年的研究报告显示,伊利诺斯州的公立高校对每个学生的资助水平比2008年降低了54%,而亚利桑那州的降幅更高达56%。根据世界银行2018年公布的《全球代际经济流动性概览》,以20世纪80年代出生的人作为研究对象,在通过教育实现阶层流动方面,美国是全球表现最差的50个经济体中仅有的4个高收入经济体之一,同时也是高收入经济体中在收入的代际流动性方面表现较差的经济体。

Fourth, the rising cost of higher education has deprived low-income groups of their opportunities to receive higher education in the United States. The Gallup website reported on August 3, 2017, that since 1980, there had been no measurable indicators showing any improvement in the quality of higher education in the United States, but the prices for higher education had increased rapidly. The Forbes website reported on February 21, 2017, that student loan debts had become the type of consumer debts second only to mortgage debt, outnumbering the total of credit cards and car loans. There are more than 44 million students relying on loans to continue their education, and the total amount of their loans is as high as US$1.3 trillion. The average per capita loan for students enrolled in 2016 was US$37,172. In some regions, cuts in fiscal plans are leading to a decline in school enrollment. The website of the Chicago Tribune reported on September 30, 2016, that the freshmen enrollment declined significantly in many state universities. For example, the number of freshmen enrolled in Chicago State University was half of what it was in 2010, and the number of freshmen enrolled in the University of Illinois has fallen by 25 percent from the previous year. A 2016 study made by a non-partisan think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), showed that public colleges in Illinois reduced their per-capita funding for the students by 54 percent compared to the number in 2008, while in Arizona, there was a 56 percent reduction. In 2018, the World Bank released a report entitled Intergenerational Mobility around the World. It took the people born in the 1980s as its subject of research and found that the United States was one of the only four developed economies among the 50 economies that did the worst in realizing intergenerational mobility through education and that the United States was among the developed economies that did a bad job in actualizing intergenerational income mobility.

(二)美国政府缺乏扭转贫富分化的政治意愿

(2) The US Government Lacking the Political Will to Narrow the Gap Between the Rich and the Poor

美国政府缺乏政治意愿改变导致贫富分化的结构性根源,反而采取一系列加重贫富分化的政策措施。

The US government lacks the political will to change the structural roots that lead to the division of the rich and the poor. Instead, it adopts a series of policies and measures that further widen the gap.

第一,美国政府为刺激经济增长制定的政策措施仅着眼于使富人受益,而没有考虑如何使低收入人群减轻负担。联合国极端贫困与人权问题特别报告员菲利普·奥尔斯顿在2018年5月发表的访美报告中指出,美国现政府推行系列刺激经济增长措施,但发展成果仅惠及富人,普通民众并未获益。美国政府以牺牲社会福利为代价,对大公司和富有阶层实施前所未有的大规模减税计划,该策略似乎是为扩大不平等而量身定制。根据美国税收和经济政策研究所的分析,2019年美国通过减税产生的收益中预计有27%流入了美国最富有的1%人群的口袋。富人成为税改政策最大的受益群体。政府财政投入不足导致困难群体缺乏相应的社会保障。皮尤研究中心2015年8月18日发布的研究报告显示,美国用于社会保障的经费严重不足,2014年的收支逆差约为740亿美元。美国受托人社会保障和医疗保险信托基金2015年的报告显示,美国社会保障系统已有25.8万亿美元的亏损,这几乎是美国年度GDP总量的1.5倍。

First, the US government’s policies and measures to stimulate economic growth are only aimed at benefiting the rich instead of taking into consideration how to reduce the burdens on low-income groups. In his report on his visit to the United States, which was published in May 2018, Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, pointed out that the current US administration’s strategy of stimulating economic growth benefited only the rich people, not the common people. The current US administration’s policy of carrying out unprecedentedly large-scale tax cuts for large companies and the wealthy class at the expense of social welfare seems to be a policy formulated to widen the existing inequality. According to the analysis made by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), it is estimated that 27 percent of the revenue generated by the United States tax cuts in 2019 will flow into the pockets of the richest 1 percent people of the United States and the rich people will become the group who benefits the most from the current tax policies. Insufficient government financial investment leads to the lack of corresponding social security for the needy groups in the United States. A research report released by the Pew Research Center on August 18, 2015, showed that the United States had a serious shortage of funds for social security, with a deficit of about US$74 billion in 2014. The 2015 annual report of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees showed that the US social security system had a deficit of US$25.8 trillion, which was almost 1.5 times the total annual GDP of the United States.

第二,推翻医改法案,拒绝医保全覆盖。美国是少数没有实行全民医疗保险的发达国家之一,有相当数量的居民没有医疗保险,因而无法在患病时得到应有的医疗照护。尽管美国国会在2010年就通过了奥巴马政府提出的医疗改革法案,承诺要建立全民医保体系,但据美国人口普查局公布的数据,2015年还有3300万美国人没有被医疗保险覆盖。2017年5月4日,美国众议院以217票对213票通过《美国医保法》草案,推翻了“奥巴马医改”的诸多重要内容。

Second, the Health Care Reform Act has been struck down, and full coverage of medical insurance has been rejected in the United States. The United States is one of the few developed countries that do not have universal health coverage. A considerable number of its residents do not have medical insurance and cannot receive the medical care they deserve when they become ill. Despite the US Congress adopting the Healthcare Reform Bill proposed by the Obama administration in 2010 and promising to establish a universal health care system, data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that there were still 33 million US citizens not covered by medical insurance in 2015. On May 4, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the American Health Care Act by a vote of 217 to 213, overturning many important contents of the Obama’s health care reform plan, also known as “Obamacare.”

第三,关闭乡村医院,“医疗荒漠”不断扩大。半岛电视台美国频道网站2017年12月17日报道,自2010年以来,美国已有80多家乡村医院关闭,另有数百家濒临倒闭,“医疗荒漠”地带正在变得越来越普遍。据“北卡罗来纳乡村健康研究项目”的研究数据,每个被关闭的医院所服务的居民大约有1万人,他们是社会上最弱势的群体,对如何健康生活最缺乏了解。而关闭乡村医院,毁掉了原来建立的乡村医院网络,使当地居民不得不驱车到数十英里以外的医院去就诊。皮尤研究中心2017年12月14日发布的调查报告显示,自2015年以来,民众对政府保障医疗服务的正面评价下降了20%。

Third, many rural hospitals have been closed in the United States, which has expanded the “medical desert”. The website of Al Jazeera’s US channel reported on December 17, 2017, that since 2010, more than 80 rural hospitals in the United States had been closed, and hundreds of rural hospitals were on the verge of bankruptcy. The “medical desert” zone is expanding. According to the research data from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program (NC RHRP), each closed rural hospital can serve approximately 10,000 local residents, who are the most vulnerable group in US society and know the least about how to live a healthy life. The closure of rural hospitals has destroyed the original rural hospital network and forced local residents to drive to hospitals dozens of miles away to receive medical services. A survey report released by the Pew Research Center on December 14, 2017, shows that since 2015, the public’s positive evaluation of government-guaranteed medical services has fallen by 20 percent.

第四,互联网管理政策扩大“数字鸿沟”,低收入群体的劣势地位更加突出。半岛电视台美国频道网站2017年12月15日报道,美国2015年制定的《开放互联网规则》规定了网络中立规则,即所有互联网服务提供商必须同等对待所有数据,不能对某些数据流进行阻塞或“节流”。然而,这一规则于2017年12月14日被美国政府废除。报道认为,此举将使富人可以花钱享受到更快捷的网络服务,从而加深富人与低收入群体之间的“数字鸿沟”,使低收入群体在迈向数字化未来的竞争中处于劣势。例如,底特律的贫困水平接近40%,同时也有大约40%人口的家庭没有因特网。底特律“平衡互联网倡导”组织的纳西娅·瓦尔德兹认为,更昂贵的互联网将会对贫困人口更加不利,“这将是毁灭性的,会进一步加剧已经存在的不平等现象。”

Fourth, the Internet management policy has widened the “digital divide” and strengthened the inferior position of low-income groups in the United States. As reported by the website of Al Jazeera’s US channel on December 15, 2017, on December 14, 2017, the US government ended the net neutrality rules stipulated in the 2015 Open Internet Rules, which forbade Internet service providers from blocking or “throttling” certain data streams and required that traffic would have to be treated equally regardless of the users’ ability to pay. The report commented that this move would allow rich people to enjoy faster Internet services with the help of money and thereby deepen the “digital divide” between the rich people and the low-income groups, putting the low-income groups at a disadvantage in the competition toward a digital future. For instance, in Detroit, where the poverty rate is close to 40 percent, about 40 percent of the city’s population do not have access to the Internet at home. Nyasia Valdez, who engages in the city’s Equitable Internet Initiative, has expressed that making the Internet more expensive will further economically disadvantage poor people. “It would be so devastating and further exacerbate the inequality that’s already there,” Valdez said.

美国政府之所以缺乏扭转贫富分化趋势的政治意愿,从更深层次分析,是与美国的政治制度和美国政府所代表的资本利益密切相关的。愈演愈烈的金钱政治使得美国政府已经成为富豪的代言人。英国《卫报》网站2018年8月7日报道,公众普遍认为美国选举是腐败的,国会议员被企业、富人和特殊利益集团俘获。正如联合国极端贫困与人权问题特别报告员菲利普·奥尔斯顿在2018年5月发布报告所指出的,美国是世界上最富有、最强大和最具科技创新能力的国家之一,但无论是财富、权力还是技术都没有被用来解决约4000万人持续贫困的局面。“极端贫困的持续存在是当权者做出的政治选择。”

A deeper analysis shows that the reason the US government lacks the political will to bridge the divide between the rich and the poor is closely related to the US political system and the capital interests represented by the US government. The vigorous development of money politics has turned the US government into a spokesman for the rich. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on August 7, 2018, that the public generally believed that the US elections were corrupt and that members of the US Congress served only the companies, wealthy people, and special interest groups. As pointed out by Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, in his report released in May 2018, the United States is one of the richest, most powerful, and most technologically innovative countries in the world, but its wealth, power, and technology have not been used to address the persistent poverty of the 40 million people. “The persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” Alston wrote.

美国的贫富分化是一个稳定的长期趋势,人们无法期望这一状况能够在短期内出现任何实质性扭转,由此对美国人民享有和实现人权造成的严重负面影响也将日趋恶化。

The division between the rich and the poor in the United States will be a stable, long-term trend. One cannot expect any substantial reversal of this situation within a short period. The severe negative impact it has brought on the enjoyment and realization of the human rights of the US people will continue to worsen.



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