谁在为全球化城市埋单

发表时间:2017-09-11内容来源:VOA英语学习网

I know people in various lines of corporate work who have each accumulated air miles above the value of the average house in England. That is £235,000. One of them cannot remember the last time he paid for a flight. These are not the gods of finance who score a million miles a year. They are, in the main, salaried professionals who shuttle around to serve clients.

我认识许多在各行各业打拼的公司职员,他们每人累积的航空里程,都比英国一栋普通住宅值钱,即超过了23.5万英镑。其中一位已经不记得自己最近一次花钱买机票是什么时候。这些人都不是每年能飞一百万英里的金融大神。他们主要是些领薪水的专业人士,需要穿梭各地为客户服务。

In the course of their travels, they will also rack up hotel loyalty points that, like the miles, are incurred on their employers’ tab but theirs to keep. One has a colleague sitting on almost two million points with a particular hotel chain after a prolonged stay in one of its grand establishments in Asia.

他们出差时,也会累积酒店积分,就像累积的航空里程那样,这些积分是在雇主的账单下发生的,但由他们获得。有人说他的一位同事,由于长期入住一家位于亚洲的大酒店,目前已在某连锁酒店集团累积了约200万分。

Look around one of those lavish but not very interesting restaurants in the middle of London, New York, Toronto, Singapore, Hong Kong, or any one of the cities that together define the world economy. There is some diligent expensing at work, often aimed at the capture and retention of clients for banks, law firms and consultancies.

在伦敦、纽约、多伦多、新加坡、香港,或任何一个繁华的世界大都市的中心区,都有一些极尽奢华但没什么特色的餐厅。随便哪家都有一些公费开销,通常是为银行、律所和咨询公司吸引和保留客户而发生的费用。

And, yes, the media has its own culture of perks, as do politicians, as do diplomats. But the largest international businesses operate on another level of consumption. Airlines compete to be their preferred flyer and, when a deal is agreed, the benefits cascade to staff. At one point, a friend of mine acquired an Air France gold card having never been on an Air France flight in his life.

是的,媒体有自己的补贴文化,政客们也是,外交官们亦然。但全球最大的那些跨国企业其消费水平却完全在另一个层面上。航空公司竞相投他们所好,一旦达成了一项交易,员工就会得到大把好处。有一次,我的一个朋友得到了一张法国航空(Air France)的金卡,而他从没坐过法航的飞机。

The secret of this new age of the city state, is that it runs on other people’s money. There is a class of workers who can live above their means (as defined by their salaries) by leaning on miles, points, expenses and other supplements. There is a class of restaurant, bar, hotel and airline that could not survive in its present form without this tapestry of indirect income.

新时代城邦的奥秘在于,它在依靠他人的资金运作。有一类工作者,可以凭借里程、积分、公费及其他补助,过着他们的收入水平(由他们的薪资决定)支撑不起的生活。有一类餐厅、酒吧、酒店和航空公司,没有了这些五花八门的间接收入,就没法维持现在这般景象。

The word that recurs in the discourse about these cities is “postmodern”. They hold little to be fixed or sacred. They allow themselves to be remade by outsiders. They cultivate an Anglophone jet set who feel more at ease in a dozen or so world centres than in the hinterlands of their own countries. Well, nothing is more postmodern than a disconnection between income and expenditure. There is a curious feeling of weightlessness in a business class lounge or big city restaurant — of people liberated to savour the pleasures at hand by the redirection of the bill to some faceless third party.

说起这些城市,就会提到一个词:“后现代”。在这些城市,没有什么被认为是一成不变或神圣的。它们允许自己被外来者改造。这些城市孕育了一个说英语的“打飞的”阶层,这些人觉得他们在十来个世界大都市过得比在自己老家还自在。对了,没什么比收入和支出脱节更“后现代”。在商务舱候机室或大城市的餐厅里,人们会产生一种奇妙的失重感——他们自在地享受着,账单被转给了一些不知名的第三方。

This urban secret need not be a dirty one. It is within the law and the UK’s Bribery Act and America’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act have tightened up that law. If there are victims, they tend not to be obvious candidates for pity. Shareholders, perhaps, though the outgoings in question are often real costs of doing business. It is, in all but name, part of the remuneration package.

这一奥秘未必是肮脏的。它并未超出法律允许的范畴,英国《反贿赂法案》(Bribery Act)和美国《萨班斯?奥克斯利法案》(Sarbanes-Oxley Act)已经收紧了相关法律条款。即便有受害者,也没有哪一方特别值得同情。股东们也许值得同情,但上述支出往往是他们做生意的实际成本。实际上,它们是员工薪酬待遇的一部分。

At any rate, the justice of the system may be less interesting than its scale. It leaves these cities vulnerable to a change in corporate culture. If companies restrict their staff benefits — by retaining miles and points, say — a whole dimension of the entertainment economy would wither. One friend saw his company’s 12-month spend in a single restaurant. The number had seven digits.

无论如何,这个系统的公正性可能不如它的规模更有趣。它令这些城市很容易受到企业文化改变的影响。如果公司限制员工的福利——比如不让员工个人积攒里程和积分——一部分娱乐经济就会萎缩。一位朋友看到他们公司在一家餐馆12个月的开销。金额有七位数。

More than that, the balance of power within cities would tilt from the corporate to the bohemian. The perk culture leads to an over-allocation of resources to expensive but generic urban entertainment: the boilerplate restaurant, the five-star chain hotel, the convenient city centre.

不仅如此,城市内部的权力平衡也会由企业向奢华无度的店铺倾斜。这种补贴文化导致资源被过度分配到昂贵但平庸的城市娱乐设施上:样板化的餐厅、五星级连锁酒店、便利的城市中心。

This has less to do with any innate philistinism than a rational avoidance of risk when schmoozing clients, who might not take to that new Serbo-Chilean basement bar in Dalston. On a weeknight, areas such as Knightsbridge survive on this middle-of-the-road traffic.

这跟什么先天的庸俗没太大关系,毕竟,如果你的客户对达尔斯顿(Dalston)新开的塞尔维亚-智利风格的地下酒吧不感兴趣,你就该理智地避开这种地方。周日的晚上,骑士桥(Knightsbridge)这样的地方是个折中的选择。

The offbeat quarters of town, meanwhile, would carry on as they are. They already attract people who pay out of their own pockets. It is the outwardly opulent centre, where prices tend to exceed quality, or at least imagination, that is fragile. In a world of newly frugal companies, the East End might outlast Mayfair — or anywhere that counts on free money.

与此同时,城市中那些不落俗套的地方也会一如既往地存在。它们已经吸引了自掏腰包的顾客。真正脆弱的是表面光鲜的城市中心,这里很多场所的价格往往都超出了品质,或至少与想象不符。在企业重新崇尚起节俭的时期,伦敦东区或许会比梅菲尔区(Mayfair)或者其他任何一个依靠闲钱维持浮华的地方更有生命力。

来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: http://www.tingvoa.com/html/20170911/493105.html