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经济学人:洪水泛滥大不列颠

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Leaders-Britain

社论
Britain's floods
洪水泛滥大不列颠
Canute Cameron
卡梅伦祸从口出
The prime minister's response to the floods has been patchy; but it is wrong to blame him for them
首相治洪引发质疑,归咎于他有失公允
BIBLICAL—that is how David Cameron described the floods spreading misery through southern England.
过去几周,英格兰南部洪灾泛滥,数千公顷农场一片汪洋,
Thousands of hectares of farmland have been under water for weeks and over 5,000 houses abandoned.
五千家庭流离失所,无奈之际首相卡梅伦称之为上帝的旨意。
Local railways are damaged and their services in chaos. Soldiers have been deployed to leafy Thames-side suburbs, where looters were rumoured to be splashing through abandoned stckbrokers' palaces.
如今,洪灾区铁路中断,公共服务陷入混乱。政府已经调遣军队维持泰晤士河沿岸洪水侵蚀地区的治安,据称大量歹徒已经将被富人遗弃的豪宅洗劫一空。
The prime minister was scarcely exaggerating;
对于此次洪水的破坏力,卡梅伦丝毫没有夸大其词。

yet his recourse to scripture also invited the uncomfortable question of who, exactly, is to blame.

然而,首相引经据典的说辞却引发了一个尴尬的问题,即谁该对此次洪水负责。
The question matters to Mr Cameron.
对于卡梅伦来说,这个问题至关重要。
His reputation for competence underpins his party's electoral chances.
是否具备应对危机的能力,关系着其党内选举成败。
He may be able to brush off the councillor from the UK Independence Party who saw the floods as divine retribution for the prime minister's successful campaign to legalise gay marriage.
卡梅伦此前顺利通过同性恋婚姻合法化提案,英国独立党议员认为这是上帝对他的惩罚,对此卡梅伦或许可以选择漠视。
But British newspapers are full of semi-submerged people blaming his government for their plight:
然而,英国报纸上充斥着灾区人民将自己现在的困境归咎于政府:
73% of Britons support a Daily Mail campaign to divert money to flood victims from Mr Cameron's unloved foreign-aid budget.
据《每日镜报》发起一项调查表明,73%的英国国民希望将卡梅伦不受国人待见的国外援助预算用于此次洪水受灾群众。
There is even an echo of the opprobrium thrown at George Bush for his useless response to Hurricane Katrina.
甚至有人旧事重提,将席卷美国的飓风卡特里娜造成的严重灾害归责与小布什的应对不力,以此含沙射影指责卡梅伦。
Some of these recriminations are justified.
上述部分指责并非毫无根据。
In 2009 the Environment Agency, which is charged with keeping water in its proper place,requested an annual increase in spending on flood defences.
2009年,负责治理河道的英国环境局,曾提出增加年度防洪预算。
This was not unreasonable: more people are living in flood-prone areas, and global warming is likely to lead to more extreme weather.
这也是现实所需,很多人居住在易发洪涝区,全球气候变暖很有可能会导致更多极端天气。
The agency's budget for capital expenditure has instead been cut by 28%.
然而,防洪预算不但未增加,反而减少了28%。
The extra cash now promised must be spent on repairing damaged defences, not investing in new ones.
现今政府许诺增加的预算势必会用于修复损毁防御设施,而无法投资新建。
It was a failure characteristic of a government that has too often sacrificed long-term spending on infrastructure to the exigencies of short-term belt-tightening.
政府常常会牺牲掉用于基础设施的长期预算,弥补短期节省开支造成的经济状况,这是政府失职的表现之一。
The government's initial response to the disaster was also poor.
对于英国国内的洪灾,政府最初的反应同样令人不敢恭维。
Mr Cameron implied the flooding on the Somerset Levels, an area of land below sea-level, had been exacerbated by a decision to stop dredging the man-made rivers that drain it.
卡梅伦暗示称由于此前政府终止了用于排涝的人工河疏浚工程,低于海平面的Somerset Levels地区的洪灾影响加重。
That suggested the last, Labour, government was to blame.
这表明上届政府,工党政府需要对此负责。
Yet dredging would at best have mitigated the flooding only a bit.
然而,即便是用于排涝的人工河得以疏浚,也只是稍微减小此次洪水的危害。
The Environment Agency is right to give low priority to protecting farmland. Towns are more valuable.
英国环境局不优先考虑保护农场的决定是正确的,城镇更为重要。
Torn between conflicting desires to appear in control of the calamity and blameless for the suffering, other ministers blathered.
在治理洪灾过程中,不同利益群体的矛盾开始显现,英国其他部长开始喋喋不休,互相推诿责任。
Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, sniped at the Environment Agency—which is led, not coincidentally, by Lord Smith, a Labour Party grandee.
社区大臣埃里克?皮克斯抨击由工党要员史密斯勋爵领导的环境局,绝非偶然。
Other Tories unconvincingly blamed their usual bogeys:
难以置信的是其他托利党成员谴责一贯被英国妖魔化的对象:
the European Union, on the basis of one directive or other, and the Liberal Democrats, their main rival in the south-west.
欧盟,理由是其指挥不力,他们还谴责国内西南地区的主要竞选对手自由民主党。
For a government that takes pride in its efficiency, this was a shambles—and one seized on not just by Labour but by Mr Cameron's many enemies in the press and his own party.
对于一个向来以高效引以为豪的政府来说,这简直是倒退。这一点不仅会被工党,而且会被卡梅伦的敌对媒体及自身保守党内,都会借题发挥。
It never rains but it pours
不鸣则已,一鸣惊人
How much this will hurt Mr Cameron electorally is unclear: most of the flooded areas are safe Tory seats.
这会对卡梅伦的连任选举造成多达影响尚不得而知:大部分被淹地区都是可靠的保守党议员。
But the scale of the opprobrium is wildly unfair.
但是,对卡梅伦的广泛指责有失公允。
That is partly because Mr Cameron has got his act together, promising the acceleration of insurance payouts, giving affected companies more time to meet tax obligations and stopping the ministerial blather.
原因之一是卡梅伦已经开始有条不紊的采取相应措施,承诺加快各项保险赔付,允许受灾地区公司延后纳税,勒令停止部门之间的口水战。
But the bigger reason is simple: in this instance virtually all the blame should fall not on the government but on that other British bugbear, the weather.
但是,引发洪灾的主要原因不言而喻:事实上这次洪水灾害不应全部归责于政府,而是归咎于英国恶劣的天气,
Recent weeks have been the wettest in a century.
近几周的降雨量创英国过去一个世纪历史新高。
A giant storm surge and some of the biggest waves on record have contributed to a triple whammy of flash floods, waterlogging and burst riverbanks.
暴风雨激增,有史以来最大的波浪都助涨了此次迅猛的洪流、积水,这些都对河岸形成了强烈的冲击。
Even if Mr Cameron had the wisdom of Solomon and the wealth of Croesus, he could not have prevented the flooding.
即便卡梅伦有所罗门的智慧、克里萨斯王的财富,也无法阻止此次洪水。
With climate science indicating that future inundations are more likely, Britons will therefore have to assume more responsibility for their own property.
气候科学表明英国未来或许会遭遇更多洪水,
Anyone tempted to build or buy a house on a flood-plain or low-lying sea front should think again.
任何打算在冲积平原或者海平面以下地区建造或购买房屋的人都需要三思而后行。
And on this subject, at least, they should stop blaming Mr Cameron.
无论如何,至少对于此次洪灾,他们不应在谴责卡梅伦。
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