Alex Wong/Getty Images

国债纸老虎

发自剑桥——大多数人对政府债务的忧心程度都比税负要高。 “几万亿可不是个小数目啊!”这句话形象地体现了我的一位朋友对英国国债的观感。不过他也有点夸大了:债务总额只有1.7万亿英镑(约合2.2万亿美元)。为此还有个网站专门搞了个债务时钟,显示国债正以每秒5170英镑的速度累加。虽然税收收入的规模远不及国债,但上一财政年度英国政府依然收到了7500亿英镑的巨额税金。税基也每分每秒在增长,只是没人有兴趣搞个时钟来记录罢了。

很多人认为,不管重税如何令人沮丧,政府收税来支付开支总要比借债来得更诚实一点。在他们看来借款形同于偷偷征税。“这么大笔钱该如何去偿还啊?”朋友问,“想想我们的孩子和孙子们吧。”

应该指出的是我的这位朋友年事已高了。老年人对债务尤其恐惧,也许是出于一种古老的观念,认为一个人是不该拿着负数资产负债表去见上帝的。还要补充的是这位老友受过顶尖的教育,也曾在公共生活中扮演过极为重要的角色。但对他来说公共财政仍是一个不解之谜:他在直觉上认为规模达万亿且每秒增加5170英镑的国债是一件非常糟糕的事情。

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