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Mr Reid’s gambit has also offended several important moderates in the Senate, who are now considering dropping all support for the health reform effort, which might still deprive the Democrats of the 60 votes they need for normal passage of a bill. This is a grave matter, as Mr Obama has indicated that he would like health reform to pass without resorting to a hugely provocative procedure known as budget reconciliation, which would require only 50 votes.

 

海德的这场赌博同样得罪了不少参议员重要的温和派人士,他们现在正考虑着放弃所有支援医疗改革的努力,这也会使得民主党无法得到通常通过法案所需的60张选票。事关重大,正如奥巴马所言,他希望医疗改革的通行不用诉诸一项极富挑衅的程序,这便是人们熟知的预算调停,此项程序下仅需50张选票便能通过法案。

 

One senator with his nose out of joint is Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who is now officially an independent but who still caucuses with the Democrats. He said this week that he cannot vote for any Senate bill that contains a public plan. Similar noises were made by Olympia Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican to vote for the bill passing out of the Senate’s finance committee. There are at least three other wavering Democrats in the Senate—Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson—who all, unsurprisingly, come from states that voted for John McCain in the last presidential election.

 

对此,来自康涅狄格州的参议员乔·利伯曼就甚感不悦,虽然是一名官方中间派人士,但乔·利伯曼仍会主持一些共和党的会议。本周,他提到任何含有公共计划的参议员法案他都是不支持的。类似的言论也出现在奥林匹亚·斯诺身上,这位来自缅因州孤单的共和党人试图将该法案挡在参议院财政委员会门外。参议院民主党人中至少有三位人士的态度也发生了动摇——路易斯安那州的玛丽.兰德里欧, 阿肯萨斯州的布兰琪·林肯 和 内布拉斯加州的本尼尔森——不必惊讶,这三位在最后的总统大选中正是将票子投给了麦凯恩。

 

Whether a public plan will prevail or not is anyone’s guess. A strong version has no chance of passing both chambers, but it is now possible that some lesser version could end up on Mr Obama’s desk for signature. He himself has advocated a compromise version that would be triggered only after a few years, and only if private competition failed to achieve affordable universal cover. That plan, which the courageous (and now snubbed) Ms Snowe also supports, may yet emerge at the eleventh hour as a compromise. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that a proposal that seemed close to death is now alive and kicking.

 

公共计划是否能得到执行,大家都在猜测。公共计划的“强势版本”想要通过参众两院的把关看是不大可能了,但一些“温和版本”最终能在奥巴马手下签署通行的可能性还是很大的。奥巴马自己也提倡折中的方案,可能要在若干年后,当私营竞争者无力提供普遍可支付的医保报价时,这样的折中方案才会出现。无畏者也好,抵制者(斯诺女士)也罢,如今都在力挺对这份折中方案,这也有望成为盖棺论定之时的一种妥协。可以确信的一点是,几近死亡的提案,如今又活过来了。

 

Pets in the recession 经济衰退时代的宠物们

Howls for help 呼唤帮助

Hard times have left many pets homeless

困难时期,宠物们无家可归

 

Jan 21st 2010 | NEW YORK

From The Economist print edition

 

EARLIER this month the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a non-profit organisation, wrote to Goldman Sachs. Animal shelters, the letter said, are struggling to cope with a surge in the number of pets that have been abandoned because their owners have fallen on hard times. Maybe Goldman executives should give their big bonuses to the dogs? Sadly, it looks unlikely.

本月早些时候,非营利机构善待动物组织曾致信高盛投资公司。信上说,由于主人身陷困境,遭受遗弃的宠物越来越多,挑战着动物收容所的收容能力。也许高盛总裁该把他们的巨额奖金让给宠物狗?不幸的是,这不太可能。

 

As the number of job losses and foreclosures has mounted over the past two years, some people have chosen to surrender their animals, unable to afford pet food let alone veterinary care. Many have brought their dogs and cats to shelters. Some have been less kind, chaining them to fences or locking them inside their foreclosed homes. One kitten was even left in a mailbox in Boston.

随着失业和抵押品赎回权的取消在过去的两年里不断攀升,一些人决定抛弃他们的宠物,因为他们买不起宠物食品,宠物医院的服务则更是高价。很多人把他们的猫猫狗狗送到宠物收容所,另一些人则没有这么好心,他们用链子把宠物拴在栏杆上,或者锁在自己被取消了抵押赎回权的房子里。在波士顿,人们甚至在邮桶里发现了一只被遗弃的小猫。

 

Looking after these pets is becoming more challenging because many shelters rely on government money and have seen their funding cut. Animal Care and Control of New York City, for example, saw its grant fall by over $750,000 this fiscal year, around 7% of its operating budget. Fewer people are coming forward to make donations. Some non-profits are trying to step in and encourage people not to abandon their furry friends at shelters in the first place. Pet-food banks, which give pet food to people in need, have sprung up across the country.

照顾这些宠物正变得越来越有挑战性,因为很多宠物收容所靠政府拨款运作,而现在拨款已被取消。举例来说,纽约动物管制局本财年的资金拨款已经减少了75万美元,相当于其经营预算的7%。捐款的人也越来越少。一些非营利组织试着干预,鼓励人们不要一开始就遗弃他们的毛绒朋友。为需要帮助的人们提供宠物粮食的宠物粮食银行正在全美不断涌现。

 

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that around 6m-8m cats and dogs end up in shelters each year. Only half are adopted. The rest are put down. There is some concern that even more are being put to sleep now, because shelters do not have the space or money to keep alive animals that have not been adopted. Fewer people are coming forward to adopt as well, presumably because they cannot afford to. One non-profit organisation, Pilots ’N Paws, connects pilots to shelters with dogs that have not found homes. The pilots volunteer to fly them to other states, giving them a second chance at adoption.

美国动物保护协会估计,宠物收容所每年大约会收容600到800万宠物猫狗。只有一半会被重新认领,其余的会留在收容所。由于收容所缺乏足够的空间和资金来看护那些未被认领的猫狗,很多人怀疑更多的动物已被实行安乐死。现在前来认领的人也不是很多,大概是因为支付不起。在非营利性组织Pilots ’N Paws的协调下,飞行员会帮助未被认领的狗。飞行员们自愿把这些狗带往其他国家,让他们有第二次被收养的机会。

 

The internet is playing its part. One organisation, ForeclosurePets.org, runs an online billboard that allows people facing foreclosure to find a home for their pet. Adopt-a-pet.com uses its website to help shelters advertise and send e-mail alerts when certain types of animals come in. By the end of 2009 8,500 animal shelters were using the site to post adoption listings for 140,000 pets, up from 6,800 shelters and 98,000 listings at the beginning of the year. Now all that is needed is 140,000 good homes.

互联网也在发挥作用。ForeclosurePets.org组织创建了一个网上公告牌,让那些被取消了抵押赎回权的人们能够为他们的宠物重新找到房子。网站Adopt-a-pet.com帮助宠物收容所打广告,如果有某种动物可以认领便会发送电邮通知网民。截止2009年底,已经有8500家收容所使用该网站张贴了总共14万个待认领宠物的信息。现在所需要的就是14万个收容家庭。

 

Desegregation and schools

废除种族隔离与学校

 

No easy answers

没有简单的答案

 

Has Wake County thrown out the baby with the bathwater?

wake郡是否为了解决学校入学体制中弊病而忽视了种族歧视问题?

Mar 31st 2010 | RALEIGH | From The Economist print edition

 

IN 1971, a young black lawyer brought up in rural North Carolina under Jim Crow laws argued on behalf of a boy from Charlotte called James Swann before the United States Supreme Court. In that case, Swann v Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the court held that school districts may use busing, quotas and other such methods to ensure integration. Nearly 40 years later that same lawyer, Julius Chambers, stood once again before nine people, this time the Wake County board of education, and this time as a concerned citizen rather than an advocate, to plead a case: that the county ought to retain its programme of assigning pupils to schools based on levels of family income. His suit failed: on March 23rd the board voted 5-4 to abandon that policy.

1971年,一位在北卡莱罗纳州农村长大的年轻黑人律师,依据种族隔离法,在美国最高法院为一个来自charlotte名叫James swannn 男孩辩护。在那起案件中,辩护双方是 James swann 和Charlotte-Mecklenburg 学校董事会。法庭认为各个学区可以利用公交接送,入学配额和其他一些类似的办法来确保整个地区教育的一体化。将近40年后,那位相同的律师Julius Chambers再一次的站在了wake 郡9人学校董事会的面前。这一次,他并不是作为辩护律师,而是以一位热心市民的身份提出了自己的意见:他认为wake 郡应该继续按学生家庭的收入将学生送入到相应的学校就读。但是他的意见并没有被采纳。3月23号,学校董事会以5票反对4票赞同的投票结果废除了原有的政策。

 

That vote ended a decade-long experiment. In 2000 Wake County’s school board decided to integrate its schools by income level rather than race. No more than 40% of students at any one school should be receiving free or subsidised lunches (which are given to children from poor families). Evidence dating back more than 40 years shows that schools with too great a concentration of poor pupils are undesirable. Teachers do not stay, and poor pupils tend to perform worse when they are put with others who are poor.

这次投票结束了长达10年之久的教学试验。2000年,wake 郡的学校董事会决定根据学生家庭收入水平而不是种族差别来整合郡内的学校。任何学校只有40 %的学生应该接受免费午餐或者是资助午餐(这些午餐提供给家庭困难的学生)。但40多年来的事实表明:学校将绝大多数的注意力都集中在贫困学生的身上的这种做法是不可取的。那些学校是留不住老师的,而其当贫困的孩子和那些与他们一样贫困的学生呆在一起时,他们的表现就会越来越差。

 

Under the new plan, Wake’s schools seemed to do well. In 2007-08 pupils in the third to eighth grades (eight- to 13-year-olds) outperformed the state average on standardised reading and maths tests in every grade, and high-school pupils did the same in every subject in statewide end-of-course exams. The average SAT score for the county’s high-school leavers that year was 54 points above the national average and 76 points above the state average.

在2000实施这种政策时,wake郡的学校似乎做得很好。2007-08学年3年级到8年级的小学生(8到13岁)在标准化阅读以及数学等科目上都要优于州平均水平,中学生在州统考的期末考试的相关科目上也有优异的表现。同样的,当年,wake  郡的高中毕业生在 大学入学考试中的平均分数也要比州平均分数线高54分,比国家平均分数线高74分。

 

Yet the picture grows less rosy on closer inspection. Black pupils lagged behind white in every grade and subject. Poor students fared markedly worse than their wealthier counterparts, and their graduation rate was 54% in 2009, lower than the state average. To some, this indicated that the assignment plan was hiding rather than solving problems: pupils were still failing, but they were just dispersed. 但是从最近的检测结果来看,形式不容乐观。在相应的年级和科目上,黑人学生总是落后于白人学生。而且很明显,贫困的学生与那些富有的学生比起来似乎更难获得成功。这部分学生在09年的毕业率只有54%,低于州平均水平。这也表明这种学生入学分配制度并没有很好的解决问题反而隐藏了很多问题。

 

Most pupils attended schools near their homes, but some travelled across the county. Parents complained of a lack of choice and of high-handed treatment from the school board: one aggrieved father who grew up in bureaucracy-racked India said the board’s behaviour reminded him of home. When the board forced some pupils to attend “year-round” schools (where holidays are arranged as four three-week breaks throughout the year, rather than one long one), a group of parents sued. They lost, but within the court’s decision was a critical bit of advice: they could always elect more sympathetic board members. So they did: of the five candidates who voted to scrap the assignment policy, four were elected last October.

大多数学生都可以去离家较近的学校上学。但是有部分学生他们必须到其他的学区去上学。家长们纷纷抱怨他们缺少选择的权利并且对郡学校董事会的那些强制服从的处理办法表示不满。:一位愤愤不平的父亲说懂事会的这些做法让他回忆起自己的家乡,因为他是在印度这样一个官僚强权主意色彩很浓的国家长大的。

一群家长向法院起诉wake郡教育董事会,原因是学校董事会强迫学生去上“全年制”的学校(“全年制”学校并没有采取一年放一次大长假的假期制度而是将一年的假期分为4次,每次3个星期。),虽然最终他们的起诉失败了,但是在法院最终的裁决中有一段极其重要的建议:他们能做的就是选出更具同情心的学校董事会成员。当然他们确实这样做了:在今年3月23的投票中,投反对票的5人中有4人就是去年10月被选民推选上的。

 

The vote attracted controversy: at last week’s meeting, three demonstrators were arrested. Earlier in the month, Ron Margiotta, the board’s chairman, referred to jeering opponents as “animals out of their cages”. Taunts of racism were thrown around. Now that the vote has been taken, tempers seem to have cooled, even if the future of Wake’s schools remains unclear.

但是这次9人懂事会成员的投票引起了很大的争议:在上周的游行示威集会中,3名示威者被逮捕。在本月初,学校董事会主席Ron Margiotta把那些可笑的反对者比作“逃出笼子的野兽”。现在这次投票的结果已经尘埃落定。虽然wake郡未来的学校政策仍是未知数,但是人们的怒气似乎也已平息。

 

John Tedesco, who chairs the board’s reassignment committee, has talked of splitting the county into neighbourhood zones. Parents in poor zones will be given the option of sending their children to schools in wealthier districts. Mr Tedesco maintains that the current plan was inefficient and placed an undue burden on parents. It also failed: 30% of schools exceeded the 40%-poor-student threshold in 2008.

董事会人事调任委员会主席John Tedesco已经谈到了将全郡划分为几个就学附近区。在贫困区的家长可以得到将孩子送到富裕学区的学校读书的机会,John Tedesco坚持认为现行的政策效率低下而且给家长带来了很多不必要的负担。更何况事实也说明这种政策是行不通的,就08年而言30%的学校的贫困学生人数已经超过40%的界限。

 

Yet those facts—like the stubborn racial gap and the low graduation rate for poor pupils—could just as well argue for improving as ending the current system. After all, it is difficult to imagine that poor pupils would fare better in impoverished schools. One possible future can be seen in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, which scrapped its integration programme in favour of neighbourhood schools in 2002. Its schools have become more segregated, with minorities concentrated in poor schools: in 2006 16 of its elementary schools were at least 75% non-white, with at least 90% eating subsidised lunches. Parents in poor areas were offered the choice of transferring their children to wealthier schools, but capacity limits made many such requests impossible to grant.

种族差距与隔阂任然难已去除,贫苦学生的毕业率依然很低。然而这些问题也只能像结束现行学校政策那样,逐步探讨研究不断改进。毕竟,我们很难想象贫困的学生在贫困的学校里能够有什么更好的发展。当然我们从Charlotte-Mecklenburg郡学校入学政策上可以预见出wake郡学校未来发展的一种可能。2002年Charlotte-Mecklenburg郡废止了一体化的学校体制,转向支持社区化的学校体制,他的学校种族隔离现象更加明显,大多数的未成年人都集中在贫困的学校:06年Charlotte-Mecklenburg郡的16所小学至少有75%非白人学生,其中至少90%的学生任然要接受学校的资助午餐。在贫困区的家长可以得到择校的机会,把他们的孩子送到富裕的学校读书,但是由于名额的限定,大多数这样的要求都无法满足。

 

Mr Tedesco bristles at the notion that Charlotte is the future; he believes that with better management and more efficient spending Wake can avoid Charlotte’s errors, and he may be right. But Wake’s school system faces a $20m shortfall, which makes the board’s task all the more daunting.

有些人认为Charlotte-Mecklenburg郡学校发展的现状可能会成为wake郡学校的未来,Tedesco并不赞同这种观点。他相信更好的管理和更高效的利用教育经费会让wake郡避免Charlotte-Mecklenburg郡学校发展中出现的错误。但是wake郡的学校教育系统正面临着2千万美元的亏空,这也使得wake郡学校董事会的各项任务计划更加举步维艰。

 

Cabling America

美国的光纤架设

 

Fibre in paradise

天堂高速路

 

How a small city in Virginia is replacing coal mines with tech jobs

弗吉尼亚的一座小城如何用技术岗位替代煤矿营生

 

Feb 18th 2010 | BRISTOL | From The Economist print edition

 

THERE’S no reason for a city to be there, just a stream and a broad Appalachian valley. But Joseph Anderson wanted a city, and in the 1850s he willed one from the ground after a railway company built its state-line terminus on his father-in-law’s farmland. He named it, oddly, Bristol, after one of England’s biggest ports. “Paradise” was his second choice. Now, after the decline of the area’s timber and coal industries, paradise is what Bristol has left to sell. The city’s cost of living is 20% below the national average. The mountains beckon, as does NASCAR’s Bristol Motor Speedway. And Bristol offers what 87% of America’s towns and counties lack: the optic-fibre internet.

 

一条小河再加一道山谷,这里似乎并没有城市存在的理由,但是Joseph Anderson不这么认为。十九世纪五十年代,在一家铁路公司在他岳父的农场上为其州道修建终点站之后,Anderson先生从无到有创造了一座小城出来。他给小城起了一个奇怪的名字-Bristol,源自英格兰最大的港口之一,而“天堂”是他当时的第二选择。现在,在该地区的木料和煤炭产业陷入衰退之际,天堂般的宜居环境成为Bristol仅剩可供出售的东西了。小城的生活成本较全国平均水平要低20%。这里山峦叠嶂,风景诱人,还有远近闻名的NASCAR(全国汽车比赛协会)Bristol 汽车赛道。同时,Bristol市还有着87%的美国城镇所没有的东西:光纤互联网。

 

 

Illustration by Peter Schrank

 

Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee face each other across State Street, six blocks with a restored art deco theatre and 14 empty shopfronts. To the north, electricity comes from Bristol Virginia Utilities, which answers to the city council, a common arrangement in rural America. In 1999 BVU ran optical fibre among its substations and city offices, at first purely for internal use. It used its fibre to save the city money on its phone exchange, but local businesses soon wanted the same service. Home internet service followed in 2002. Then, with $9m in state and federal grants, BVU pushed its fibre north to eight counties in Virginia’s Coalfield region.

 

Bristol市沿主街在弗吉尼亚和田纳西两州之间一分两半,它有6条街区,一座修复后的艺术装饰风格剧院和14个空店面。应市议会的要求,电力供应由Bristol Virginia Utilities(BVU)从南向北接引过来(这种安排在美国郊区很普遍)。1999年,BVU在其分站和市办公室间部署光纤,起初只供内部使用。它用光纤来节省小城的电话交换费用,但是很快当地企业也想获得同样的服务。家庭互联网服务开始于2002年。此后,凭借900万美元的州政府和联邦补贴,BVU把光纤服务向北覆盖到弗吉尼亚煤田区的8个区县。

 

And the fibre brought jobs. In 2007 both Northrop Grumman, a big American defence contractor, and CGI, an international IT consultancy, said they would hire between them 700 technicians, consultants and call-operators at offices in nearby Lebanon, Virginia, part of BVU’s fibre backbone. Both cited the area’s universities and low cost of living, but neither would have come without BVU’s investment, which Northrop calls absolutely critical. A 2010 paper by Jed Kolko for the Public Policy Institute of California found evidence of a causal relationship in America between the arrival of broadband and employment growth; and the lower the population density, the stronger the effect. Wes Rosenbalm, BVU’s boss, sees the equation much as Joseph Anderson did 150 years ago. “Broadband is jobs,” he says. “This is the next depot, the next highway.”

 

伴随光纤而来的是工作机会。2007年,Northrop Grumman(一家大型美国国防承包商)和CGI(一家国际IT咨询公司)表示他们打算在弗吉尼亚Lebanon市(位于BVU光纤骨干网中)附近的办公室雇佣700名技术工人、咨询顾问和接线员。两家公司都看中了该地区的学校资源和低廉的生活成本,但是若没有BVU的投资它们是不会来的,Northrop就直接表示光纤条件至关重要。加州公共政策研究所的Jed Kolko在2010年发表的一篇文章中证实,在美国,宽带的部署与就业增长之间存在因果关系,人口密度越底,这种效应就越明显。BVU的老板Wes Rosenbalm对以上关系的看法与150年前的Joseph Anderson如出一辙,他说:“宽带意味着工作机会,它是新一代火车站,新一代的高速路。”

 

Should cities be in the business of providing fast internet access? It depends on whether the internet is an investment or a product. BVU could not afford to maintain its fibre backbone without selling the internet to consumers. And it could not build a subscriber base without offering cable television and a telephone line as well; households these days expect a single price for all three services. This has put it in direct competition with firms that already offered limited DSL and cable-modem access, which are fast enough for watching YouTube but not for Northrop Grumman. Fibre is expensive, and a purely commercial business would not have been minded to pay for it.

 

那么市政应该参与经营快速互联网接入业务吗?这取决于互联网是一项投资还是一种产品。如果不面向消费者销售互联网接入服务,BVU无力承担其光纤骨干网的维护费用;而如果不同时提供有线电视和电话线,它又无法建立用户基础。今天的家庭用户希望有线电视、电话和互联网接入三项服务能够统一定价,这就让BVU与那些已在提供慢速DSL和拨号接入的公司形成直接竞争,后者的服务虽然足够观看YouTube视频,但对于Northrop Grumman却远远不足。可问题是,光纤的部署成本很高,一家纯商业公司根本无力承担。

 

All this is true for much of rural America, and it is an analogue of the reason why municipal utility companies were launched in the first place: to electrify thinly-populated areas where commercial utilities would not go. But it also raises the prickly question of competition. The Federal Communications Commission will have to take up this matter when it sends its broadband plan to Congress in March. Since 1995, at the urging of telecoms companies, 18 states have erected barriers to entry for municipal utilities. In Florida, projects must prove positive cash-flow within four years; in Minnesota they require 65% approval in a referendum.

 

上述问题在多数美国乡村普遍存在,这也是为什么市政公用事业公司需要首先进入,它们得为人口稀少的地区接通电力,而这些地区商业电厂是不会去的。但是这也引发了棘手的竞争问题。在今年3月份向国会提交其宽带计划时,联邦通信委员将不得不面对这一难题。自1995年开始,在电信公司的游说下,全国有18个州针对市政公用事业公司建立了市场准入门槛。在佛罗里达州,市政投资的项目必须证明能在4年内带来正的现金流;而在明尼苏达州,此类项目必须在全民公投中获得65%的赞成票。

 

Rick Boucher, south-western Virginia’s representative in Congress and a key figure in securing BVU’s expansion grants, supported wording in the 1996 Telecommunications Act which, he thought, protected the right of “any entity” to enter the market. But many states have ruled that local governments are not “entities” in the required sense, an interpretation confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2004. Mr Boucher is trying to get a more watertight bill passed. In his district—just as when the railway came—when the fibre arrives, towns throw parties.

 

弗吉尼亚州西南地区的国会代表,同时也是BVU扩大补贴提议的关键支持人物Rick Boucher,表示支持《1996年电信法案》中就此问题的相关表述,他认为这保护了“任何实体”平等进入市场的权力。但是,许多州都已裁定当地政府并非真正意义上的“实体”,而这一诠释也在2004年得到了高等法院的确认。现在,Boucher先生正试图推动一份表述更为严密的提案获得通过。在他的街区,就像当初铁路到来时一样,相信当光纤到来的那一天,镇上也一定会举办派对庆祝。

 

California's prisons

加州监狱

 

Jailhouse blues

监狱愁容

 

California must reduce its prisons’ overcrowding and cost. But how?

加州必须缓解其监狱的拥挤,并削减相关费用。但是怎么才能做到呢?

 

Feb 11th 2010 | LOS ANGELES | From The Economist print edition

2010年2月11日,洛杉矶,《经济学人》印刷版

 

ONE never quite knows whether Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s governor, is joking or serious. So it is with his three most recent ideas for solving one of the state’s biggest problems: its prisons. They are overcrowded, to the tune of about 40,000 inmates according to a federal court, and often inhumane. And they are too expensive, exacerbating California’s desperate budget crisis.

 

没有人真正知道加州州长阿诺?施瓦辛格到底是在开玩笑还是认真的。对他新近提出的解决监狱问题——该州最头疼的问题之一——的三个办法,大家的感受亦然如此。加州监狱人满为患,据联邦法院统计,现在关押在此的狱囚总计达4万人。这些监狱的设施也常常不够人性化。而且,监狱费用高昂,使得加州本就相当严重的财政赤字雪上加霜。

 

The governor’s wildest thought experiment has California paying Mexico to build prisons and house California’s inmates in them. This is “totally silly” and probably unconstitutional, says Joan Petersilia of Stanford Law School. Almost as silly is his proposal to amend the state constitution to mandate reversing the current shares of the state budget that go to prisons and universities. The fact that 9.5% of spending now goes to prisons while only 5.7% goes to universities—25 years ago, prisons got 4% and universities 11%—is indeed a harsh indicator of California’s fall from grace. But there is no logical reason to pit two parts of the state budget against each other constitutionally when legislators are perfectly capable of doing the allocating.

 

州长最异想天开的实验是由加州付钱给墨西哥修建监狱,以安置加州的狱囚。斯坦福大学法学院的琼?皮特尔斯连(Joan Petersilia)说,这简直“愚蠢透顶”,而且很可能违宪。同样“愚蠢透顶”的是,他建议修改州宪法,以强制扭转监狱和大学在州预算中的现行份额。而目前财政预算中,监狱支出占据了9.5%的份额,而大学仅为5.7%——25年前,监狱占4%,大学占11%。这一事实清楚说明加州现已斯文扫地。但既然立法委员如此精于财政预算分配,那么从宪法上使州预算的两部分彼此掐架也就没有合理性。

 

However, Mr Schwarzenegger’s third proposal should be taken seriously. It is to privatise more of California’s prisons. He has already expanded a contract with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the oldest and largest private prison operator, to house about 8,000 of California’s 167,000 inmates, mostly out of state. California is one of 25 states which, along with the federal government, put some inmates in private prisons. Mr Schwarzenegger wants to do more of it.

 

但是,施瓦辛格先生的第三项提议应该给予足够重视。这项提议是让更多的加州监狱私有化。他已经扩展了与美国最大的、历史最悠久的一家私人监狱运营商——美国感化公司(CCA)的合同。由该公司安置加州16.7万囚犯中的8000人,其中大多数都安置在州外。除联邦政府以外,有25个州将一些囚犯送往私人监狱,加州是其中之一。施瓦辛格先生准备加大这方面的工作力度。

 

He has two reasons. First, private companies can expand capacity faster than government bureaucracies, and adding space is part of the answer to overcrowding. Ms Petersilia estimates that it takes seven years to build a new state prison in California, but only one year to open the equivalent private facility, through leasing, converting or building.

 

他有两个理由。其一,私人公司比政府机构能更快得扩展其容纳囚犯的能力,而监狱扩容是解决监狱拥挤问题的一个办法。皮特尔斯连女士估计,新建一座政府监狱要花7年时间。但是,以租赁、改造以及兴建方式开设一座同等的私营监狱仅需一年时间。

 

Second, private prisons sometimes have lower costs, if they can keep prison-guard unions at bay. California’s happens to be the most powerful in the nation. About 70% of a prison’s costs go on personnel, and California’s guards not only have the highest wages but the most generous pension and health-care benefits. The union, which habitually spends lots of money on campaigns for judicial and legislative elections, as well as on ballot measures, will of course fight the proposal.

 

其次,如果私人监狱能不受狱警工会牵制的话,那么他们所需费用也较低。而加州的狱警工会恰恰是这个国家最强势的。监狱费用的70%都花在了狱警上。加州的狱警不仅有全国最高的工资,而且他们的养老金和医保福利都是全国最好的。常常在司法、立法选举以及投票策略上花费大量资金的工会,这次当然也会抗议这项提议。

 

But privatisation is not a long-term solution, says John Roman of the Urban Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC. For big savings, a state would have to cut services to inmates, from drug treatment to counselling, whether the prison is public or private. Such cuts, however, leave inmates less prepared to re-enter society and more likely to end up behind bars again.

 

但是监狱私有化并非长久之计,华盛顿特区的智囊团城市研究所的约翰?罗马(John Roman)说。要削减费用的话,州政府就不得不削减对囚犯提供的从药物治疗到心理咨询的一系列服务,不管监狱是政府设立的抑或私营的。但是,这些措施只会让囚犯在重新融入社会时准备更不充分,很可能会再次走上被告席。

 

This is why Ms Petersilia emphasises another policy, agreed during last year’s budget deal. California has had a high recidivism rate (of 70%) in part because every released inmate used to be placed on parole and many were returned to prison for small violations such as missing appointments or failing alcohol tests. Since January 25th only dangerous ex-convicts are placed on parole, and they only go back to prison if they commit new crimes. Whether this will reduce overcrowding is yet to be seen, but it should help.

 

这就是皮特尔斯连女士强调另一项政策的原因。这项政策在去年的财政预算中获得了通过。加州颇高的屡犯率(70%)部分是由于每个释放的囚犯过去常常都是有条件的假释,许多人都会因为违反一些小错,比如错过会见期或者未通过酒精测试等,重返监狱。自1月25日起,只有危险的囚犯才会假释,而这些人也只有犯了新罪后才会重新收监。这一措施是否可以减缓监狱拥挤的现状还有待观察,但是这肯定会有所帮助。

 

Restoring Cleveland

克里夫兰复苏进行时

The hopeful laundry

洗衣厂的光明前景

 

Jan 7th 2010 | CLEVELAND, OHIO

From The Economist print edition

 

Micro-projects aim to restore a shattered area

微观立项重塑伤城

 

Can Cleveland flower again?

克里夫兰能否再度辉煌?

FOR decades, they have stood in stark juxtaposition: the manicured landscapes and tranquil grounds, the Van Goghs and Monets displayed in cavernous marble halls; and the abject poverty, crime and joblessness just outside. University Circle is home to Cleveland’s most cherished cultural and public-service gems, institutions built with the wealth of Ohio’s long-gone industrial era of steel and manufacturing: the Cleveland Museum of Art, Severance Hall, Case Western Reserve University and the city’s famous hospital district, centred on the Cleveland Clinic.

 

几十年来在克里夫兰,处处流露人工痕迹的风景伴着安静祥和的庭院;梵高的作品和莫奈的作品同时陈列在洞庭堂皇的大厅的理石墙上;而厅外,与之相衬的是令人心生绝望的贫穷,犯罪,失业。城内文化以及公共服务奇葩都聚在大学城里,各种机构沿袭了俄亥俄州早在工业时代的财富,钢筋水凝土的建构如出自同一流水线。如克利夫兰艺术博物馆,赛佛伦斯音乐厅,凯斯西储大学,和以克利夫兰医学中心的著名医疗区。

 

But encircling this oasis of gentility, the six surrounding neighbourhoods languish, home to 43,000 mostly black residents living in households where the median income is $18,500. A wave of recent foreclosures and the perennial signifiers of urban decay abound—drugs, crime and intractable unemployment. Despite the millions spent on job-training programmes this ring of impoverished neighbourhoods remains a gloomy gauntlet to be run by the 45,000 workers driving into the area daily, and a safety threat on evening outings to the Cleveland Orchestra.

 

尽管这是片风雅之地,周围六片居民区的四万三千户人口却只能勉强维生。他们中的大多数是黑人,平均收入只有一万八千五百元。近来兴起了一股取消抵押品赎回权之风,而毒品泛滥,犯罪横行,失业更是伤人脑筋,这些现象屡禁不止,标志着城市的衰落。尽管政治掷金百万用于职业培训,这片居民区仍以前景灰暗的姿态挑战着每日涌入的四万五千名工人,威胁着克利夫兰管弦乐队的夜场安全。

 

The recession has exacerbated the divide, as has the billion or more dollars poured into expansion projects in the University Circle area in recent years. Four cranes block out the skyline, but the foreground is row upon row of boarded-up houses and shuttered storefronts. The Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals are powerhouses of economic activity, spending a combined $3 billion on goods and services annually. But little of that money stays local.

 

大学城近年来投资数十亿进行开发,再加上经济衰退,城中城郊的分化日益恶化。四架起重机架起了天际线,其下却是一排排的板房和门窗紧锁的店面。克利夫兰医疗中心,凯斯西储大学和大学医院是经济活动的生力军。这些机构每年用于购买商品和服务的花费达30亿,却钱差不多都让外地人挣去了。

 

So what if some of that financial largesse could be deployed within the surrounding city blocks, creating assets and new wealth within the underclass? If it seeped out not via insecure low-wage jobs, but jobs offering living wages and benefits, even entrepreneurial businesses that workers could own? That is the idea behind the Evergreen Co-operative Initiative, an effort aimed at closing this wealth gap by creating 10 green, for-profit businesses that local residents will own and operate.

 

因此,何不将慷慨的拨款划一部分用于建设城郊,增加下层阶级人民的财产和收入?并且,要这种划款不是通过无保障的低薪工作而勉强渗透到城郊,而是通过新增薪酬足以保障生活满足基本福利需求的工作实现,甚至通过支持工人们的自主创业。这就是常青合作行动——旨在通过建立10家当地居民所有并运营的环保盈利企业来消除贫富差距。

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