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《美国在抢劫》精选-英译中
来源:北京新语丝翻译公司  编辑:xinyusi  发布日期:2013-05-21 15:11

    The Wisconsin Five wanted their money to beget money. Actually, they wanted borrowed

    money to do all the begetting. There is a very long and controversial history about whether or not that’s a good thing.

    Money seems to have sprung up about 9,000 years ago. The first currency was cows. Before we developed crops, our ancestors domesticated wild animals. A few of these species (taurine and zebu) became cattle that provided people with food, milk and a way to carry loads. These cattle also became our first means of exchange.

    Apparently, from the start, homo sapiens have had a fondness for trading just about everything. We loved to barter. If we had a little extra of something, we wanted to trade it for stuff we didn’t have. But as our societies became more complex, it became increasingly cumbersome to work out the exact terms of each barter deal. The cow became the universal medium of exchange. Other items were measured against the value of a cow. One cow equals so many spears or concubines.

    The Chinese were the first to figure out that coin-like objects might be easier to put in your purse than a cow. They started using cowry shells-those shiny porcelain-like sea shells that were easily carried and transferred. Their beauty also gave them intrinsic value. In Africa, cowry shells were also known for their magical powers and were associated with fertility.

    Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, noted that by 687 BC, the kingdom of Lydia (in what is now western Turkey) used minted coins. Historians believe this might have been the first society to systematically do so. In short order, decorative metals-silver and gold-became the standard means of exchange.

    People were probably long familiar with loans: I will give you my extra cow now, and you will give me back a cow later. Or maybe you will give me back an armful of wheat every new moon for 12 new moons. But at some point-historians don’t know exactly when-people came up with the idea of charging interest: You can have my extra cow now, but only if you give me a cow back next year plus an armful of wheat every month. (Interest may have started

    because animals could reproduce during the period of the loan. Who got the calf?)

    Early on, our hard-working ancestors worried about the impact on society of those who received extra wealth from loans. Money lenders often were viewed as leeching off those who worked hard for their bread. Long before Christ, people were making a clear distinction between earned and unearned income. But more importantly, they worried about the consequences for the community: The indebted could become slaves to their creditors, and destabilize the social order.

    The concept of interest was first codified about 4,500 years ago in Mesopotamia, as that society developed an urban civilization that relied on a division of labor. Wheat growers, fishermen, and herders in the countryside fed the urban population of craftsmen, priests, and government officials. The temple, and later the central government, took in surpluses from the countryside (taxes in the form of agricultural produce) and distributed the goods to the urban dwellers. Everyone had to pay some kind of tribute (taxes) to the temple and the state. If you couldn’t pay, you borrowed either from others or from the central government to cover what you owed.

    威斯康星州五所学校希望自己的钱能够生钱。其实,他们原本希望用借来的钱生钱。对于这种方式是好是坏的问题,人们已经争论了相当长的时间。

    金钱的出现大约可以追溯到9000年前。第一种货币是奶牛。在开始培植农作物以前,我们的祖先靠驯养野生动物为生。其中一些种类(公牛和瘤牛)被驯化为普通的家畜牛,为人们提供食物和牛奶,同时也是一种运输工具。这些牛也成了我们的第一个交易工具。

    显然,人类从一开始就对交易情有独钟。我们喜欢以货易货。如果这其中还有什么其他原因的话,那就是我们想要交换我们没有的物件。但随着我们的社会变得日益复杂,计算每笔以货易货交易的确切数额也变得非常繁琐。因此,牛便成为??交换的通用媒介。其他物品的价值根据一头牛的价值来衡量。一头牛可以换一定数量的矛或其他所需物品。

    中国人最先制造了硬币状的物品,人们可以将这些物品轻松地装进钱包(牛肯定不行)。他们开始用贝壳作为通用媒介,那些像瓷器般闪闪发光的海贝壳很容易携带和传递。它们的美丽也使之富于内在价值。在非洲,人们认为贝壳拥有神奇的力量,并且和生育有关。

    古希腊历史学家希罗多德(Herodotus)指出,公元前687年,吕底亚王国(位于今土耳其西部)使用的是铸造硬币。历史学家们认为,这可能是第一个系统使用铸造货币的社会。在短期内,如黄金和白银等装饰用金属成为交换的标准工具。

    人们或许在很早以前就开始跟放贷打交道:我现在把多余的一头牛给你,等以后你再还给我一头牛;或者你在每次新月出现时给我一大抱小麦,连续12次。但到了某个具体的时间点--历史学家们也不知道具体时间--人们产生了收取利息的想法:我现在可以把多余的一头牛给你,可是你明年必须再还给我一头牛,外加每个月一大抱小麦。(利息或许也已经开始计算,因为动物可能在放贷期内繁殖。可是小牛该给谁?)

    早期,我们勤劳的祖先们担心那部分从放贷中赚取额外财富的人会对社会造成不良影响。放债人常常被视为榨取那些为维持生计而努力工作的劳动者血汗钱的邪恶之徒。早在公元前,人们对劳动收入和非劳动收入已经划分的非常清楚。但更重要的是,他们担心借贷给社会造成的后果:负债人可能会成为其债权人的奴隶,进而破坏社会秩序的稳定??。

    利息的概念约在4500年前被纳入美索不达米亚地区的法典,当时,这一地区已经发展出了一种依赖分工的城市文明。乡下种植小麦的农夫、渔民和牧民为城里的工匠、祭司和政府官员们供应食物。寺院以及后来的中央政府将农村地区的盈余(税收为农产品)征集起来,然后分配给城里的居民。每个人都必须向寺庙和国家缴纳一定的贡品(税)。如果你付不起,那就需要从其他人或政府手里借。

    本文由新语丝资深译员整理发布
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