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那些有钱人不会告诉你的事

更新时间:2017-9-12 11:06:28 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What the Rich Won’t Tell You
那些有钱人不会告诉你的事

Over lunch in a downtown restaurant, Beatrice, a New Yorker in her late 30s, told me about two decisions she and her husband were considering. They were thinking about where to buy a second home and whether their young children should go to private school. Then she made a confession: She took the price tags off her clothes so that her nanny would not see them. “I take the label off our six-dollar bread,” she said.

我在闹市区的一家饭馆和30多岁的纽约人比阿特丽斯(Beatrice)一起吃午饭时,她告诉我,她和她丈夫正在考虑两个决定:在什么地方买第二套住宅,以及是否要送他们年幼的孩子去私立学校。然后,她坦白说:她会把价签从买来的衣服上摘掉,这样就不至于让她的保姆看到价钱。“我会把我们六美元买的面包的标价也撕下来,”她说。

She did this, she explained, because she was uncomfortable with the inequality between herself and her nanny, a Latina immigrant. She had a household income of $250,000 and inherited wealth of several million dollars. Relative to the nanny, she told me, “The choices that I have are obscene. Six-dollar bread is obscene.”

她解释说,她之所以这样做,是因为她对自己与保姆之间的贫富差距感到不适,她的保姆是一位来自拉脱维亚的移民。她本人的家庭收入为每年25万美元(约合163万元人民币),还继承了数百万美元的财富。她对我说,相对于保姆来说,“我所拥有的选择多得惊人。六美元面包的价钱也高得惊人。”

An interior designer I spoke with told me his wealthy clients also hid prices, saying that expensive furniture and other items arrive at their houses “with big price tags on them” that “have to be removed, or Sharpied over, so the housekeepers and staff don’t see them.”

与我聊过的一位室内设计师告诉我,他的有钱客户们也会把价格隐藏起来,他说,运到他们住所的昂贵家具和其他物品,“上面带有价格很高的标签,必须先摘下来,或用永久墨水笔把标价覆盖起来,这样的话,管家和家政人员就不会看到了。”

These people agreed to meet with me as part of research I conducted on affluent and wealthy people’s consumption. I interviewed 50 parents with children at home, including 18 stay-at-home mothers. Highly educated, they worked or had worked in finance and related industries, or had inherited assets in the millions of dollars. Nearly all were in the top 1 percent or 2 percent in terms of income or wealth or both. They came from a variety of economic backgrounds, and about 80 percent were white. Reflecting their concern with anonymity and my research protocol, I am using pseudonyms throughout this article.

作为我进行的富人及有钱人消费研究的一部分,这些人同意与我见面。我对50名家里有孩子的父母进行了访谈,其中包括18名全职母亲。这些人都受过高等教育,他们在金融和相关行业工作或工作过,或继承了数百万美元的资产。他们几乎都是收入或财富、或两者加起来处于顶端1%或2%的阶层。他们来自于各种经济背景,约80%是白人。出于他们对不公开名字、以及我的研究设计中的伦理要求,我在本文中使用的均为假名。

We often imagine that the wealthy are unconflicted about their advantages and in fact eager to display them. Since Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” more than a century ago, the rich have typically been represented as competing for status by showing off their wealth. Our current president is the conspicuous consumer in chief, the epitome of the rich person who displays his wealth in the glitziest way possible.

我们经常这样想象,富人对他们的优越地位不仅没有任何心理挣扎,而且实际上渴望将其展示出来。自从托斯丹·范伯伦(Thorstein Veblen)在一个多世纪前创造了“炫耀性消费”这个词后,富人所代表的典型形象就是通过炫耀自己的财富来赢得地位。我们的现任总统就是头号炫耀性消费者,是以最耀眼的方式展示自己财富的富人的典型。

Yet we believe that wealthy people seek visibility because those we see are, by definition, visible. In contrast, the people I spoke with expressed a deep ambivalence about identifying as affluent. Rather than brag about their money or show it off, they kept quiet about their advantages. They described themselves as “normal” people who worked hard and spent prudently, distancing themselves from common stereotypes of the wealthy as ostentatious, selfish, snobby and entitled. Ultimately, their accounts illuminate a moral stigma of privilege.

但是,我们认为富有者希望被看到,是因为根据定义来看,我们看到的那些人就是可见的。与此相反,我访谈过的人对他们的富人身份表达了很深的矛盾情绪。他们并不吹嘘自己的钱或炫耀财富,而是对自己的优越地位缄口不言。他们将自己描述为工作努力、花钱慎重的“正常”人,努力拉大自己与常见的富人刻板形象——炫耀、自私、势力和自命不凡——之间的距离。从根本上来说,他们的故事揭示了一种对特权的道德耻辱感。

The ways these wealthy New Yorkers identify and avoid stigma matter not because we should feel sorry for uncomfortable rich people, but because they tell us something about how economic inequality is hidden, justified and maintained in American life.

这些富裕的纽约人认同和避免耻辱的方法有意思,并不是因为我们应该为感觉不舒服的富人觉得难过,而是因为这些故事让我们对经济不平等是怎么在美国生活中得以隐藏、得以合理化和维护有了一些认识。

Keeping silent about social class, a norm that goes far beyond the affluent, can make Americans feel that class doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter. And judging wealthy people on the basis of their individual behaviors — do they work hard enough, do they consume reasonably enough, do they give back enough — distracts us from other kinds of questions about the morality of vastly unequal distributions of wealth.

对社会阶层缄口不言,遵守这个行为标准的人远不限于富人,这种做法让美国人觉得阶级不重要,或者不应该是重要的。根据个人行为来评判富人——他们是否努力工作,是否适当消费,是否足够地回报社会——会分散我们对与财富分配极度不平等的道德问题有关的其他问题的思考。

To hide the price tags is not to hide the privilege; the nanny is no doubt aware of the class gap whether or not she knows the price of her employer’s bread. Instead, such moves help wealthy people manage their discomfort with inequality, which in turn makes that inequality impossible to talk honestly about — or to change.

把价签藏起来并不是在隐藏特权。不管保姆知不知道自己雇主的面包的价钱,她无疑都知道她们之间的阶层差距。其实,这种做法只不过是帮助富人应对自己对不平等所感到的不安,这反过来让人无法诚实地讨论这种不平等现象,或对其做出改变。

The stigma of wealth showed up in my interviews first in literal silences about money. When I asked one very wealthy stay-at-home mother what her family’s assets were, she was taken aback. “No one’s ever asked me that, honestly,” she said. “No one asks that question. It’s up there with, like, ‘Do you masturbate?’ ”

在我的访谈中,对财富的耻辱感首先表现在谈到钱时的沉默上。当我询问一名非常富有的全职母亲关于她家庭财产的问题时,她很惊讶。“从来没有人问过我这个,真的,”她说。“没有人问过这个问题。这个问题属于、比如‘你手淫吗?’那种。”

Another woman, speaking of her wealth of over $50 million, which she and her husband generated through work in finance, and her home value of over $10 million, told me: “There’s nobody who knows how much we spend. You’re the only person I ever said those numbers to out loud.” She was so uncomfortable with having shared this information that she contacted me later the same day to confirm exactly how I was going to maintain her anonymity. Several women I talked with mentioned that they would not tell their husbands that they had spoken to me at all, saying, “He would kill me,” or “He’s more private.”

在谈到她和她丈夫靠金融行业工作挣来的5000多万美元的财富,以及她的价值超过1000万美元的家时,另一位女士对我说:“没有人知道我们花多少钱。你是唯一一位听到我大声说出这些数字的人。”她对分享这个信息感到如此地不舒服,以至于她在当天晚些时候找我再次确认,我究竟将怎样保证她的匿名。我访谈过的几名女子都说,她们根本不会告诉丈夫我们一起聊过,她们说“他会杀了我”或“他比较不喜欢外露”。

These conflicts often extended to a deep discomfort with displaying wealth. Scott, who had inherited wealth of more than $50 million, told me he and his wife were ambivalent about the Manhattan apartment they had recently bought for over $4 million. Asked why, he responded: “Do we want to live in such a fancy place? Do we want to deal with the person coming in and being like, ‘Wow!’ That wears on you. We’re just not the type of people who wear it on our sleeve. We don’t want that ‘Wow.’ ” His wife, whom I interviewed separately, was so uneasy with the fact that they lived in a penthouse that she had asked the post office to change their mailing address so that it would include the floor number instead of “PH,” a term she found “elite and snobby.”

这些矛盾往往延伸为一种对展示财富的深切不安。继承了5000多万美元财产的斯科特(Scott)告诉我,他和他的妻子对他们最近买的一套400多万美元的曼哈顿公寓怀着矛盾的心情。当被问及为什么时,他回答说:“我们想住在这么奢华的地方吗?我们想经常听见别人进了门后说‘哇!’吗?长此以往,这会让人不舒服。我们不是那种喜欢炫富的人。我们不想听那个‘哇’。”我对他的妻子进行了单独访谈,她对住顶层豪华公寓(penthouse)这件事感到如此地不安,以至于她要求邮局把他们的邮寄地址改为楼层、而不是“PH”(penthouse的缩写——译注),她觉得用PH太“精英和势利”了。

My interviewees never talked about themselves as “rich” or “upper class,” often preferring terms like “comfortable” or “fortunate.” Some even identified as “middle class” or “in the middle,” typically comparing themselves with the super-wealthy, who are especially prominent in New York City, rather than to those with less.

接受我访谈的人从来都不说自己“富有”或属于“上层阶级”,他们更喜欢用“过得舒服”或“幸运”这样的词。有些人甚至认为自己是“中产阶级”或“社会中层”,这是因为他们通常把自己与纽约市尤其显著的超级富豪相比,而不是与不如他们的人作比较。

When I used the word “affluent” in an email to a stay-at-home mom with a $2.5 million household income, a house in the Hamptons and a child in private school, she almost canceled the interview, she told me later. Real affluence, she said, belonged to her friends who traveled on a private plane.

有这么一位全职母亲,她的家庭年收入为250万美元,在汉普顿有房子,孩子上私立学校,当我在给她的电子邮件中用了“富裕”这个词后,她差点取消了与我的访谈,她后来告诉我。她说,她的乘坐私人飞机旅行的朋友才算是真正富裕的人。

Others said that affluence meant never having to worry about money, which many of them, especially those in single-earner families dependent on work in finance, said they did, because earnings fluctuate and jobs are impermanent.

还有人说,富裕意味着永远不用担心钱的问题,而他们当中的许多人担心钱,尤其是那些依赖于家中只有一人在金融业有收入的家庭,因为金融业的收入存在波动,而且工作岗位也不是永久性的。

American culture has long been marked by questions about the moral caliber of wealthy people. Capitalist entrepreneurs are often celebrated, but they are also represented as greedy and ruthless. Inheritors of fortunes, especially women, are portrayed as glamorous, but also as self-indulgent.

美国文化长期以来的特点之一是质疑富人的道德能力。虽然资产阶级企业家经常受到赞美,但他们也有贪婪和无情的形象。继承财富的人,尤其是女性,往往被描绘为特别富有魅力,但也自我放纵。

The negative side of this portrayal may be more prominent in times of high inequality (think of the robber barons of the Gilded Age or the Gordon Gekko figures of the 1980s). In recent years, the Great Recession and Occupy Wall Street, which were in the background when I conducted these interviews, brought extreme income inequality onto the national stage again. The top 10 percent of earners now garner over 50 percent of income nationally, and the top 1 percent over 20 percent.

这种展现方式的负面在高度不平等的时代可能会更加突出(比如镀金时代的强盗贵族,或1980年代的戈登·盖柯[Gordon Gekko])。近年来,经济大衰退和占领华尔街运动——我的访谈就是在这两个背景下进行的——又让极度的收入不平等成为全国关注的问题。现在,在收入分布最高的10%的人得到全国收入的50%以上,而在收入分布最顶端1%的人得到全国收入的20%以上。

It is not surprising, then, that the people I talked with wanted to distance themselves from the increasingly vilified category of the 1 percent. But their unease with acknowledging their privilege also grows out of a decades-long shift in the composition of the wealthy. During most of the 20th century, the upper class was a homogeneous community. Nearly all white and Protestant, the top families belonged to the same exclusive clubs, were listed in the Social Register, educated their children at the same elite institutions.

所以,我访谈过的人想拉大他们与名声越来越坏的顶端1%的距离,一点也不奇怪。但是,他们承认自己特权时表现出的不安,也产生于财富的组成在几十年中发生的一个变化。在20世纪的大部分时间,上层阶级的社会结构单一。他们几乎都是白人和新教徒,属于相同的高级俱乐部,被列入社会名流登记册,把孩子送到相同的精英学校接受教育。

This class has diversified, thanks largely to the opening of elite education to people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds starting after World War II, and to the more recent rise of astronomical compensation in finance. At the same time, the rise of finance and related fields means that many of the wealthiest are the “working rich,” not the “leisure class” Veblen described. The quasi-aristocracy of the WASP upper class has been replaced by a “meritocracy” of a more varied elite. Wealthy people must appear to be worthy of their privilege for that privilege to be seen as legitimate.

这个阶级已经多样化,这主要是因为第二次世界大战后,精英学校开始对不同种族和宗教背景的人敞开大门,以及更近的时候开始的金融业天文数字的报酬。与此同时,金融和相关领域的上升意味着,最富有者中的许多人是“工作的富人”,而不是凡勃伦所描述的“休闲阶级”。属于WASP(白种[white]盎格鲁-撒克逊[anglo-saxon]新教徒[protestant]的缩写,译注)上层阶级的准贵族,已被一个更多样化精英的“英才统治”取代了。富人必须看上去值得享受他们的特权,才能让其特权被视为具有合法性。

Being worthy means working hard, as we might expect. But being worthy also means spending money wisely. In both these ways, my interviewees strove to be “normal.”

正如我们可能期待的那样,值得的意思是努力工作。但值得也意味着花钱要明智。我的受访者在这两个方面都努力想表现“正常”。

Talia was a stay-at-home mom whose husband worked in finance and earned about $500,000 per year. They were combining two apartments in a renovation, and they rented a country home. “We have a pretty normal existence,” she told me. When I asked what that meant, she responded: “I don’t know. Like, dinners at home with the family. The kids eat, we give them their bath, we read stories.” It wasn’t as if she was dining out at four-star restaurants every night, she said. “We walk to school every morning. And, you know, it’s fun. It’s a real neighborhood existence.”

塔利娅(Talia)是一位全职妈妈,她的丈夫在金融行业工作,每年收入约50万美元。他们正在对城里的两套公寓进行合并整修,目前住在他们在城外租的一栋房子里。“我们有一个很正常的生活,”她对我说。当我问是什么意思时,她回答说:“我也说不上来。好像就是在家里和家人一起吃饭。孩子们吃完饭,我们给他们洗澡,给他们读故事。”她的意思是,他们并不每天晚上都在四星级餐厅吃饭,她说。“我们每天早晨走路去上学。你知道,这很有趣。这是一种真正社区生活的感觉。”

Scott and his wife had spent $600,000 in the year before our conversation. “We just can’t understand how we spent that much money,” he told me. “That’s kind of a little spousal joke. You know, like: ‘Hey. Do you feel like this is the $600,000 lifestyle? Whooo!’ ” Rather than living the high life that he imagined would carry such a price tag, he described himself as “frenetic,” asserting, “I’m running around, I’m making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” Having money does not mean, in his view, that he is not ordinary.

斯科特和他的妻子在我对他们分别进行访谈的前一年里总共花掉了60万美元。“我们真不明白我们怎么花了这么多钱,”他对我说。“这是我们夫妻之间的一个小笑话。你知道,就像:‘嘿,你觉得这是60万美元的生活方式吗?哇哦!”与其说过在他想象中需要这么多钱的奢华生活,他却把自己描述为“发疯似的”,他声称“我跑来跑去,自己做花生酱和果酱三明治”。在他看来,有钱并不意味着他不是普通人。

The people I talked with never bragged about the price of something because it was high; instead, they enthusiastically recounted snagging bargains on baby strollers, buying clothes at Target and driving old cars. They critiqued other wealthy people’s expenditures, especially ostentatious ones such as giant McMansions or pricey resort vacations where workers, in one man’s sarcastic words, “massage your toes.”

我访谈过的人从来都不因为某件东西价钱贵而炫耀之,相反,他们热情洋溢地讲述他们捞到的便宜货,比如婴儿推车,在塔吉特(Target)连锁店买衣服,还有他们开的旧车。他们批评其他富人的开支,尤其是那种摆阔气的开支,比如巨大的麦克豪宅(McMansion),去昂贵的度假胜地,那里的工人“给你按摩脚趾头”,用受访者中一人的讽刺语言来说。

They worried about how to raise children who would themselves be “good people” rather than entitled brats. The context of New York City, especially its private schools, heightened their fear that their kids would never encounter the “real world,” or have “fluency outside the bubble,” in the words of one inheritor. Another woman told me about a child she knew of whose father had taken the family on a $10,000 vacation; afterward the child had said, “It was great, but next time we fly private like everyone else.”

他们为怎样把孩子培养成“好人”、而不是把享受当成想当然的顽童而操心。纽约市的环境,特别是纽约市的私立学校让他们担心,他们的孩子永远不会接触“现实世界”,或者用一个财产继承人的话来说,永远没有“在泡沫外生活的娴熟自如”。另一位女子给我讲了一个她认识的孩子的故事,孩子的父亲花了一万美元带全家去度假之后,孩子说:“那地方还可以,不过下次我们要像其他人那样坐私人飞机。”

To be sure, these are New Yorkers with elite educations, and most are socially liberal. Wealthy people in other places or with other histories may feel more comfortable talking about their money and spending it in more obvious ways. And even the people I spoke with may be less reticent among their wealthy peers than they are in a formal interview.

诚然,这些人都是住在纽约市的在精英学校受过教育的人,而且大多数属于社会自由派。其他地方、或其他历史阶段的富人,可能会更轻松地谈论他们的钱、以及用更显眼的方式花钱。就连接受了我访谈的人,他们在富裕的同龄人中也许对财富并不这么缄口,不像他们在正式访谈中表现的那样。

Nonetheless, their ambivalence about recognizing privilege suggests a deep tension at the heart of the idea of American dream. While pursuing wealth is unequivocally desirable, having wealth is not simple and straightforward. Our ideas about egalitarianism make even the beneficiaries of inequality uncomfortable with it. And it is hard to know what they, as individuals, can do to change things.

尽管如此,他们在承认特权时所表现的矛盾情绪暗示,美国梦说法的核心之处有一种深度的对立。虽然人们毫不含糊地认为追求财富是值得的事情,拥有财富并不那么简单和直接了当。我们的平等主义观念甚至让那些不平等的受益者对不平等感到不安。而且很难知道,他们作为个人能为改变不平等做些什么。

In response to these tensions, silence allows for a kind of “see no evil, hear no evil” stance. By not mentioning money, my interviewees follow a seemingly neutral social norm that frowns on such talk. But this norm is one of the ways in which privileged people can obscure both their advantages and their conflicts about these advantages.

面对这种对立,缄口能让人保持一种“看不到邪恶,听不见邪恶”的立场。我的受访者通过不提钱,遵循了一个看似中立的社会行为准则,这种准则不许讨论钱的问题。但是,这种行为准则已成为特权人士借以掩盖自己的优越地位、以及他们对这种优越地位的矛盾心理的一种方式。

And, as they try to be “normal,” these wealthy and affluent people deflect the stigma of wealth. If they can see themselves as hard workers and reasonable consumers, they can belong symbolically to the broad and legitimate American “middle,” while remaining materially at the top.

通过试图做“正常人”,这些有钱人和富人避开了财富的污名。如果他们能够把自己看作是勤奋劳动者和合理消费者的话,他们就可以象征性地属于具有合法性的美国“中层”大众,同时在物质上仍处于最高层。

These efforts respond to widespread judgments of the individual behaviors of wealthy people as morally meritorious or not. Yet what’s crucial to see is that such judgments distract us from any possibility of thinking about redistribution. When we evaluate people’s moral worth on the basis of where and how they live and work, we reinforce the idea that what matters is what people do, not what they have. With every such judgment, we reproduce a system in which being astronomically wealthy is acceptable as long as wealthy people are morally good.

这些努力是对人们广泛采用的、以个人行为来评判富人是否在道德上值得的判断的响应。然而,至关重要的是,这种判断方式分散了我们的注意力,不让我们去思考再分配问题。当我们用人们在哪里以及如何工作和生活的基础来评定他们在道德上值不值时,我们就加强了人做什么、而不是他们有什么的重要性。每作一次这样的判断,我们就再次制造了这样一种制度,只要富人在道德上表现很好,就可以接受他们天文数字那么大的财富。

Calls from liberal and left social critics for advantaged people to recognize their privilege also underscore this emphasis on individual identities. For individual people to admit that they are privileged is not necessarily going to change an unequal system of accumulation and distribution of resources.

自由派和左派社会评论人士呼吁有优越地位的人承认他们的特权,也是在强调这种个人身份认同。个人承认自己属于特权阶层,并不一定会改变积累和资源分配不平等的制度。

Instead, we should talk not about the moral worth of individuals but about the moral worth of particular social arrangements. Is the society we want one in which it is acceptable for some people to have tens of millions or billions of dollars as long as they are hardworking, generous, not materialistic and down to earth? Or should there be some other moral rubric, that would strive for a society in which such high levels of inequality were morally unacceptable, regardless of how nice or moderate its beneficiaries are?

相反,我们不应该讨论个人在道德上值不值的问题,而是应该讨论某种社会安排的道德价值问题。我们想要社会是一种允许某些人拥有数千万甚至数十亿美元的财富,只要他们勤奋、慷慨、不追求物质享受而且务实就行的社会吗?还是一种应该有一些其他道德标准的社会、一种为让如此悬殊的不平等在道德上不可接受、不管其受益者多么善良或多么温和而努力的社会呢?

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