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经济学人:英国社会病 水蜡树和贫困

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British social ills

英国社会病
Privet and privation
水蜡树和贫困
The government has fixed Britain's broken inner cities. That was the easy part
政府已经修复了英国破败的市内城区,但更难的还在后面
TONY BLAIR gave his first major speech as prime minister not to MPs or activists, but to the residents of a housing estate in south London. Standing in front of grey slab-like flats and overhanging concrete walkways, he declared that the poorest people in Britain had hitherto been “ignored...except for the purpose of blaming them”. There would, he said, “be no forgotten people in the Britain I want to build.”
托尼布莱尔作为英国首相所发表的第一次重要讲话并不是对国会议员或是激进分子说的,而是给了位于伦敦南部的一个住宅区的居民们。站在灰色厚石板公寓楼和悬伸在外的水泥走廊上,他宣称:“英国最贫穷的人们一直以来,除了受到指责的时候之外,都被忽视了。但是,在我希望建立的英国,他们将不再被遗忘。“

In 1997 inner-city estates like the one Mr Blair visited were rife with crime, deprivation and alienation. Politicians think they still are. In 2008 David Cameron, now prime minister, gave a speech in east Glasgow declaring that Britain was “broken”. Yet such places are no longer the country's most pressing problem. Over the past few years most social blights—from crime to teenage pregnancy—have declined. And the improvement has been fastest by far in the middles of big cities. In suburban and rural areas, and particularly in poor coastal towns, social ills have been ameliorated less or have even got worse. Their residents are the new forgotten people.

在1997年,像布莱尔首相拜访的这种内城居民区充斥着犯罪、贫穷和冷漠。政客们认为情况仍然一如既往。到了2008年,戴维卡梅伦,也就是现任首相,在东格拉斯哥发表了演讲,宣称英国已经“破败了”。现在,这些地方已经不再是国家最为头痛的问题。在过去的几年间,大多数社会痼疾—从犯罪到未成人人怀孕—已经有所缓解。大城市的改善也是前所未有的迅速。然而在市郊和农村地区,尤其是在贫穷的海岸城镇,社会病并未得到有效的缓解甚至更为严重了。那里的居民变成了新一代的“被遗忘的人”。
Since 2008 the murder rate in England's biggest metropolitan areas—London, Manchester and the West Midlands—has declined five times faster than in the country as a whole. Teenage pregnancy, now much rarer in big cities like Birmingham, has ticked up in rural places such as Devon. Most dramatic is the change in schools. In 1997 Ofsted, Britain's schools inspector, declared the schools of Tower Hamlets, an east London borough, the worst in Britain. Last year poor children in Tower Hamlets did as well in GCSEs, exams taken at 16, as did all children in the country as a whole. These trends are especially stark in Britain, partly because of the country's excellent statistics. But they can be traced elsewhere too: violent crime dropped by 61% in America's biggest cities between 1991 and 2012, but by only 36% nationally.
自2008年起,英格兰最大的几个都市区的犯罪率下降速度是全国平均数的5倍。未成年人怀孕现象现在在伯明翰这样的大城市已经比较少见了,但在农村地区,比如德文郡,却在上升。变化最大的是学校。在1997年,英国教育局,即英国学校的监管当局,宣布东伦敦陶尔哈姆莱茨区的学校是全英国最差的。而在去年,陶尔哈姆莱茨区的贫困学生在GCSE中的成绩和全国其他地区的孩子一样好。这种趋势也许并不是很显眼,部分是因为英国整体都很优秀的成绩。但是这样的变化也表现在其他地方:美国大城市的暴力犯罪在1991年到2012年间下降了61%,而全国平均只下降了36%。
This spectacular inner-city recovery—the result of gentrification, sober immigrants and government policy—is extremely welcome, but it leaves politicians with a problem. By European standards, Britain still ranks poorly on many measures: teenage pregnancy, alcoholism and educational failure are too common. And these ills are now dispersed around the country. Politicians who want to drive up school results and push down the national crime rate cannot simply focus on a benighted estate. They will have to fix problems in more unexpected places too. Poor children do worst at school in Peterborough, a cathedral town, and West Berkshire, in the Home Counties. Burglaries are most common in Yorkshire.
内城的复原令人惊讶,这是地区贵族化、清醒的移民以及政府公共政策的共同结果,这种结果令人欣喜,却也给政治家留下了难题。根据欧洲的标准,英国在很多方面的排名仍处于下等:未成年人怀孕、酗酒和教育的失败。而现在,这些痼疾已经遍及全国了。那些希望能够提升学校教学成绩以及降低国家犯罪率的政客们,不能只顾着愚蠢的房地产业。他们需要在更多的以前没有关注的地方来解决问题。在彼得伯勒这个教堂小镇,以及伦敦周围诸郡中的西伯克郡,穷人的孩子在学校的表现最糟。在伯克郡里,抢劫案件最普遍。
That means putting some noses out of joint. Despite years of reform, England and Wales still have 43 individual police forces. The smaller ones are in the rural areas; city forces are big. Small forces are less good at dealing with professional criminals or problems such as mental illness. The National Crime Agency, which launched last October, may go some way to forcing them to pool their expertise and to tackle problems which cross force boundaries. But it would be better to merge smaller forces into bigger ones, as has been done in Scotland. The police, who know where their weaknesses lie, are mostly willing to support this, but politicians have ducked it.
这会把政府气得不轻。尽管改革了多年,英格兰和威尔士仍然还有43个独立的警察机关,小的在农村的,大的在城市。小的执法部门对于处理专业犯罪和其他诸如精神疾病方面心有余而力不足。在去年10月成立的英国国家犯罪局可能会通过种种举措整合全国的执法机构,运用他们的专业知识来共同解决问题。但更好的方法是将小的机构并入大的机构,这已经在苏格兰实施了。警察深知自己的弱点所在,所以很愿意支持这项举措,但政客们却一直在回避。
State cash should go to where the problems are. Schools in Tower Hamlets get 70% more money per pupil than do schools in Dorset. Given that it is now fairly easy to recruit ambitious young teachers in London, thanks to the increasingly powerful pull of the capital, that discrepancy is too high. Pay should be made more responsive to shortages in talent, whether among teachers or social workers. Programmes that send graduates to tough schools have so far focused on cities. In future their benefits should be more evenly spread.
国家预算应该要“好钢用在刀刃上”。陶尔哈姆莱茨区的学校平均每个学生获得的资金比多赛特的学校多70%,是因为现在在伦敦地区很容易就能招聘到有干劲的青年教师,这也多亏了愈发强有力的资金支持,而地区间的差距实在太大了。薪水应该与才能的稀缺挂钩,在教师和社工之间都应如此。在城市,将毕业生送去严格学校的项目是必须被执行的,未来这样的优势应该得到更均衡的推广。
More broadly, politicians will have to move away from the photo op and grand initiative method of improving society. Dramatically taking charge from Whitehall worked when problems were concentrated; it will not work nearly so well now that they are dispersed. In future, Britain's local councils—and indeed its neighbourhood charities and associations—will have to be trusted to do more themselves. Those that fail will need to be made more accountable. And Britain's next prime minister ought to make his first speech about social policy from behind a privet hedge.
更广泛地说,政客们应该把拍照作秀的时间用来发掘能够提高社会发展的良策。“新官上任三把火”只在问题集中的时候管用,但当问题分散之后效果就不怎么样了。今后,英国当地政府应当更为独立地施政并获得当地人的信任。办事不力的应当被更大程度地追究责任。下一届英国首相应该把他的初次社会政策演讲地点选在水蜡树篱笆的后面了。
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