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#139: Harrison's Presidency Marked by Anger Over Trusts

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A political cartoon criticizing the power of Standard Oil
A political cartoon criticizing the power of Standard Oil

FAITH LAPIDUS: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

The eighteen eighties were years of important change in American business and industry.

19世纪80年代,美国工商业经历了重要的变革。

Twenty years after the Civil War, the Unitedbl States had become one of the leading industrial nations of the world. As the number of factories increased, so did competition between businesses.

内战结束20年后,美国已经加入世界主要工业化国家的行列。随着工厂数量的不断增加,企业之间的竞争也越发激烈。

Some industrialists cooperated with their competitors to reduce competition. But this did not always succeed. There was no legal way to enforce their agreements.

有些工业家选择同竞争对手合作,以减少相互间的竞争。但这种合作不一定能成功,因为当时美国还没有相关法律来确保双方执行合作协议。

This week in our series, Leo Scully and Jack Weitzel tell how these issues were handled during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison.

LEO SCULLY: In eighteen seventy-nine, a new form of business organization was developed -- the trust. In a trust, stock owners of many competing companies give control of their stock to a committee, or group, of trustees.

1879年,一种新型的商业组织诞生了,这就是托拉斯。所谓托拉斯,就是众多相互竞争的企业的持股人将他们的股票交给一个由托管人组成的委员会或机构来管理。

The trustees operate all the companies as one and pay profits to the stockholders. The profits would be high, because there would be no competition to drive down prices.

这些托管人像管理单个企业那样管理所有相关企业,并给持股人分红。托拉斯的红利是非常高的,因为在托拉斯内部,公司间已经没有竞争,所以能够保持产品的高价。

One of the first trusts was formed by John D. Rockefeller in the oil industry. The stockholders of seventy-seven oil companies gave control of their stock to nine trustees of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. The nine men controlled ninety per cent of the nation's oil production.

最早一批托拉斯企业包括石油大王洛克菲勒创立的标准石油公司。77家石油公司将它们的股票控制权交给标准石油公司由九名托管人组成的董事会。结果,这九个人实际上控制了美国百分之90的石油生产。

JACK WEITZEL: The success of the Standard Oil Company led to the creation of trusts in other industries. Soon there was a sugar trust, a salt trust, a steel trust, even a whisky trust.

标准石油公司的成功促使其它行业也纷纷成立托拉斯。很快,美国出现了制糖业托拉斯、盐业托拉斯、钢铁托拉斯,甚至还有威士忌托拉斯。

These huge corporations represented hundreds of millions of dollars. This great wealth made them very powerful.

这些庞大的企业拥有数亿美元的资产,财富使它们拥有很大的势力。

Former President [Grover] Cleveland, himself a friend of business, warned of a growing danger. "Corporations," he said, "should be carefully-controlled creatures of the law and servants of the people. Instead, they are fast becoming the people's masters."

前总统克利夫兰本人对工商界很友善,但他警告说,美国正面临一种日益增长的危险。他说:"大企业本应受到法律的严格监管,是人民的仆人。可是,实际情况却恰恰相反,它们很快就要成为人民的主人了。"

LEO SCULLY: The public began to demand government controls of the trusts. Farmers claimed that prices were too high, and they blamed the trusts. Workers said their unions could not negotiate with the new industrial giants. Small businessmen charged that trusts were too powerful. They said the trusts could destroy them.

公众开始要求政府对这些托拉斯实行监管。农民说,现在物价太高,都是托拉斯引起的。工人说,他们的工会根本无法与这种巨型企业进行谈判。而小企业指责托拉斯的势力太过强大,足以逼小企业关门。

Public demands for action led the governments of fifteen states to pass anti-trust laws. But the state laws could do nothing. Most of the trusts were nationwide corporations which did business in many states.

公众的呼吁使美国15个州的州政府通过了反托拉斯法。但这些法律并起不了什么作用,因为绝大多数托拉斯都是全国性企业,经营业务分布在许多州里。

Public protest was so great that both parties in the eighteen eighty-eight elections promised to pass a federal law against trusts.

公众对托拉斯的反感情绪高涨,所以在1888年的总统选举中,民主共和两党都承诺要通过联邦反托拉斯法。

JACK WEITZEL: A number of such bills were proposed. One offered by Senator John Sherman, a Republican, was approved by Congress. President Benjamin Harrison signed it into law in eighteen ninety.

后来,议员们提出了许多相关议案,其中共和党参议员约翰·谢尔曼的议案得到了国会的批准。1890年,哈里森总统在议案上签字,使之成为法律。

The Sherman Anti-trust Law sounded severe. It said it was illegal for a trust or any other organization to interfere with interstate commerce -- trade among the states. It was also illegal for any person or organization to form a monopoly -- to get control of a whole industry. The law ordered harsh punishment for any person found guilty of these crimes.

谢尔曼反托拉斯法的内容听起来很严厉。该法禁止托拉斯或其它组织妨碍州际贸易,还禁止任何个人或组织搞行业垄断。所有违反这些规定的人都将受到严厉惩罚。

It sounded like a strong law. But it was not. It was written in a very general way that left the courts to decide what the law really said. Opponents of the Sherman Anti-Trust Bill said its purpose was not to destroy trusts, but to make the public believe that trusts would be destroyed.

这部法律听起来似乎很强硬,其实不然。法律的内容很笼统,很多问题必须交给法院来解读和判定。反对这部法律的人说,谢尔曼反托拉斯法并不是想要消灭托拉斯,而只是要安抚公众,让他们觉得,托拉斯是可以被消灭的。

LEO SCULLY: During President Harrison's administration, only eight corporations were accused of violating the new anti-trust law. Of the eight, only one was found guilty, and only in a very limited way.

在哈里森总统执政期间,只有八家公司被指控违反了新推出的反托拉斯法,其中只有一家公司被裁定确实违法,而且也不严重。

The first company charged was the Whisky Trust. A court dismissed the case. It said the government failed to prove that the trust had interfered with interstate commerce.

第一家被指控的是威士忌酒托拉斯,法院没有受理这起案件。法院认为,政府无法证明威士忌托拉斯妨碍了州际贸易。

A few years later, the government asked the courts to break up the huge sugar trust which controlled ninety-eight percent of the sugar-producing industry.

几年后,政府要求法院解散控制着全国百分之98的市场的制糖业托拉斯。

The Supreme Court refused to do so. It said that it was true the trust had formed a monopoly in the sugar-producing industry. But it said the monopoly was in manufacturing -- not in trade or interstate commerce. Therefore, said the high court, the sugar trust was legal and did not violate the anti-trust law.

但最高法院拒绝这么做。最高法院认为,的确,制糖业托拉斯垄断了全国制糖业,但这种垄断仅限于生产领域,并不涉及买卖或州际贸易。因此,最高法院说,制糖业托拉斯是合法的,它并没有违反反托拉斯法。

JACK WEITZEL: Industrial trusts helped to reduce competition among American companies. High tariffs also gave some protection from competition with foreign companies. But business leaders were not satisfied. They demanded even higher taxes on imports to further reduce competition.

行业托拉斯减少了美国各企业间的竞争,而高关税也在一定程度上保护了美国公司免受外国公司的竞争。但工商业的领导人还是不满意,他们要求制定更高的进口关税,进一步减少竞争。

So, Republican Congressman William McKinley of Ohio proposed a new tariff bill -- one that would raise import taxes higher than ever before. The tax already was about thirty-eight percent on most imported products. The new measure would raise it to almost fifty percent.

于是,来自俄亥俄州的共和党众议员威廉.麦金利提出了一项新的关税议案,打算把关税提高到前所未有的程度。当时,绝大多数进口商品的关税税率已经是百分之38了, 而麦金利议案要求把税率提高到差不多百分之50。

LEO SCULLY: Not everyone in the Harrison administration supported the high tariff measure. Secretary of State [James] Blaine wanted to increase trade between the United States and other countries. He warned that new, high tariffs would destroy those plans.

然而,在哈里森政府中,并不是人人都支持这项议案。国务卿布莱恩希望能增加美国与其它国家的贸易,他警告说,新的高关税会破坏促进贸易的计划。

A cartoon from Puck magazine makes fun of President Harrison, left, for his support of a tariff on tin. Secretary of State James Blaine is at right.
A cartoon from Puck magazine makes fun of President Harrison, left, for his support of a tariff on tin. Secretary of State James Blaine is at right.

Blaine also opposed the bill because he felt it would hurt the Republican Party politically. In a letter to Congressman McKinley, Blaine said the bill would anger the farmers by adding as much as eight percent to the price of shoes for their children.

布莱恩反对此议案还因为它会给共和党带来政治损失。布莱恩在给麦金利的信中说,这项议案将激怒农民,因为它一旦通过,将导致物价上涨,甚至农民的孩子穿的鞋都会涨价百分之8。

"Such movements as this for protection," said Blaine, "will move the Republican Party only into speedy defeat."

他说:"这样的保护运动,只能加速共和党的失败。"

JACK WEITZEL: Most western and southern congressmen opposed the tariff bill, because it would mean higher prices to the people of their states. But the bill could not pass without the support of some of them. So, supporters of the tariff bill offered a deal.

大多数来自西部和南部各州的国会议员都反对这项议案,因为该议案将使他们州的物价上涨。而如果这些议员投反对票,关税议案就无法在国会通过。于是,议案的支持者提出了一个妥协方案。

If westerners voted for the tariff measure, then eastern lawmakers would support a silver purchase bill that the westerners wanted.

那就是,如果西部州的国会议员支持关税议案,那么东部州的国会议员就支持西部各州希望通过的一项白银采购议案。

The bill, known as the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, would have the government buy four-and-one-half-million ounces of silver each month. The government would pay for the silver with paper money -- treasury notes -- which could be exchanged for gold or silver money.

这个白银采购议案就是谢尔曼白银采购法,规定政府每个月要采购450万盎司的白银。政府将以国库券来购买白银,而国库券可以兑换成黄金或白银。

LEO SCULLY: Western mines were producing huge amounts of silver. By selling it to the government, the mining interests hoped to keep the price of silver from falling. Western interests spoke in Congress now with a much stronger voice. In eighteen eighty-nine and eighteen ninety, six western territories became states. This added twelve more western representatives in the Senate and others in the House.

当时,美国西部的矿山生产了大量白银。投资者希望把白银卖给政府,这样就可以保持白银的价格不下跌。与此同时,西部在国会的影响力增大了。这是因为在1889年和1890年,西部六个地区已经成为美国的州,从而使西部在参议院增加了12个议席,在众议院也增加了席位。

The deal was agreed to. Both the McKinley Tariff Bill and the Sherman Silver Purchase Bill were approved by Congress and signed by President Harrison. As expected, the price of imported goods rose. And the people blamed the Republicans.

西部议员接受了妥协方案。这样,麦金利进口关税议案和谢尔曼白银采购议案都在国会获得通过,并经哈里森总统签字成为法律。不出所料,进口商品价格上涨,人民纷纷指责共和党。

JACK WEITZEL: In the congressional elections of eighteen ninety, the Republican Party suffered heavy losses.

结果,在1890年的国会选举中,共和党遭到惨败。

The Republican majority in the Senate was cut to eight. And not all the Republican senators would support the party on every issue. The Republicans lost control in the House of Representatives. Only eighty-eight were elected to House seats. Democrats elected two hundred thirty-five Representatives.

共和党在参议院的多数减少到只剩8个。而且并非所有的共和党参议员在每个问题上都支持本党。在众议院,共和党失去了控制权,只剩88个席位,而民主党获得了235个席位。

Voters also elected nine House members and two Senators from a new political organization -- the People's Party. The new party was born in farming areas of the West and South. It was a party of protest, formed by men who refused to support either of the two old parties.

选民还投票将9个众议院席位和两个参议院席位送给了一个新的政党--人民党。人民党来自美国西部和南部的农业区,它是一个抗议党,由那些既反对共和党、也反对民主党的人组成。

LEO SCULLY: Years before, farmers had united in agricultural organizations they called granges. A national grange had been formed.

几年以前,农民们就曾建立起自己的农业组织,叫作"农庄",并在后来成立了一个全国性的农庄。

During hard times, the grange organized political action groups to help elect officials who were friendly to farmers. But as farm conditions improved, the Granges began to disappear.

在困难时期,农庄组织政治活动,为那些对农民友善的官员助选。而随着农业生产环境的改善,农庄逐渐淡出了农民的生活。

A few years later, farmers began to build new organizations. Like the granges, they began as social and economic groups.

而几年后,农民们又开始成立新的组织,和农庄一样,这些组织最初都是社会和经济组织。

By the late eighteen eighties, many of these groups had united into two large organizations. One, with more than one million members, was the Southern Alliance. The other, with fewer members, was the National Farmers' Alliance. Members of the two groups began to unite for political action.

到19世纪80年代,许多这样的组织开始联合起来,成为两大团体。一个是南方农民联盟,拥有超过一百万成员。另一个叫全国农民联盟,人数稍少一些。这两大农民团体开始联合起来,要在政治上采取行动。

That will be our story on the next program of THE MAKING OF A NATION.

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Leo Scully and Jack Weitzel. You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and images at www.unsv.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English.

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