摘要：亚洲考场的第二次考试终于揭开了神秘的面纱，而让考生们比较欣慰的是这次的写作并没有太过为难各位同学。和之前的考试相似，这篇文章A Carbon Tax Beats A Vacuum仍然选自主流媒体US news，发表于2014年。这为接下来准备考试的同学指明了方向，平时应该多关注Wall Street Journal，New York Times等美国主要媒体的文章，改善阅读能力的同时锻炼分析技巧。
亚洲考场的第二次考试终于揭开了神秘的面纱，而让考生们比较欣慰的是这次的写作并没有太过为难各位同学。和之前的考试相似，这篇文章A Carbon Tax Beats A Vacuum仍然选自主流媒体US news，发表于2014年。这为接下来准备考试的同学指明了方向，平时应该多关注Wall Street Journal，New York Times等美国主要媒体的文章，改善阅读能力的同时锻炼分析技巧。
和三月关于public service和五月关于希腊古文物的文章相比，这次出现的关于比较征收碳税和真空吸尘器禁令的essay风格更为灵活，论证手法更丰富，结构也更为清楚，总体来说难度比较适中。在文章中，作者合理的使用了各种写作手法，例如evidence from authoritative sources, irony, rhetorical questions, logical reasoning等等，说服读者征收碳税(carbon tax)会比禁用大功率吸尘器等措施更有效的保护环境。具体见下文。
A Carbon Tax Beats A Vacuum Ban, by New York Times in 2014
Starting in September, the European Union will ban vacuum cleaners using more than 1,600 watts of power, with the limit slated to be lowered to 900 watts by 2017. This ban won't just affect a handful of the worst offenders. According to the European Commission, the average vacuum cleaner sold today uses 1,800 watts.
在文章的开篇，作者首先提出了EU的vacuum ban，并且通过对比vacuum ban所限制使用的功率和实际使用的吸尘器功率，来突出这项禁令对人们的生活的影响之大。来自于European Commission的数据给予了作者的观点更高的可信度。
Intended largely to reduce carbon emissions, the vacuum cleaner ban joins numerous other regulations throughout the world that severely restrict consumers' choices. Want an incandescent light bulb? Too bad – they're banned. How about a gas guzzling car? Sorry – they're being squeezed out by tighter fuel economy standards.
Rules like these rub many people the wrong way because they represent government intrusion into even the most minute of personal decisions. Do we really want the government telling us what kind of vacuum cleaner or light bulb to buy? Don't policy makers have better things to think about? Backers of such regulations counter that, when people buy powerful vacuum cleaners and incandescent bulbs, they don't take into account the spillover costs they impose on others by contributing to climate change.
接下来作者明确的表达了自己对于vacuum ban的态度。Irony和rhetorical question是这一部分应用的主要手法。Sita通过鲜明的用词指出像vacuum cleaner ban这样一系列的禁令只会“severely restrict consumers’ choices”，接下来提出了两个充满讽刺意味的rhetorical questions，把话题延伸到了对于light bulb和gas guzzling car上来，light bulb are banned, gas guzzling cars are “being squeezed out”，生活中最常见的两个例子强调了政府的禁令对人们的生活影响之广泛，irony则表达了作者对于政府颁布这些限令的强烈不满。政府显然应该把精力投入更重大，更有意义的任务中，而非专注于干涉人们生活中的琐事。
Fortunately, there's a better solution. A carbon tax – set to reflect the spillover costs of carbon emissions – would eliminate the need to micromanage the kinds of vacuum cleaners and light bulbs that people can buy. Instead, the tax would provide consumers with an incentive to act in a socially responsible manner by ensuring that those who operate such products pick up the tab for the climate harm they cause.
The main advantage of the carbon tax is that it leaves consumers free to decide whether to buy energy-efficient vacuum cleaners and light bulbs or whether to reduce their carbon footprint in other ways. That's a big improvement over the regulatory approach because individual consumers are in a better position than government bureaucrats to figure out the least painful way to reduce their contribution to climate change.
在第四和第五段中，作者提出了更为有效的解决办法——carbon tax。他比较了carbon tax和vacuum cleaner ban等措施，显示了前者最重要的优势在于它给了消费者自由来决定自己的生活方式。作者把传统的各种禁令定义为“government bureaucrats”，而征收碳税则是一种“less painful way”to reduce carbon emission。这种对比让读者更容易接受第二种选择。
A carbon tax is also better targeted than vacuum cleaner bans and other regulations. Some critics of the EU's new rule claim that consumers will need to run their less powerful vacuum cleaners for longer periods of time to achieve their desired level of cleanliness, which might actually increase the amount of electricity they use. Similarly, improving fuel economy through tighter standards may increase the amount of driving that people do. These "rebound effects" might not be big enough to actually cause a net increase in emissions, but they still reduce the effectiveness of the regulations.
A carbon tax avoids these problems by directly targeting the real culprit – carbon. Under a carbon tax, there's an incentive to cut back on carbon emissions along every dimension. In other words, because tax payments are in line with actual emissions, a Prius owner who drives a lot could very well pay more than an SUV owner who hardly ever drives.
接下来作者提出了carbon tax的另一个优势所在——比其他的规章更具有针对性。在这个部分，Sita继续对比两种措施之间的优劣，引用了来自于critics的意见——无论是vacuum ban还是其他的禁用措施都可能会导致‘rebound effects’——从而说明这些禁令在减少碳排放方面存在明显的弊端，反而给人们带来了不便。与此同时，碳税却可以的杜绝这样的问题，因为它会激励人们在各个方面减少碳排放，把人们交的税和碳排量直接联系在一起，而非直接禁止人们生活中一些具体的行为。通过列举Prius小排量汽车和SUV大排量汽车的例子Sita生动的说明碳税对于消费者来说更加合理。
Economists of all political stripes agree on these points. In a 2011 poll of leading academic economists representing a variety of demographic backgrounds and political views, 90 percent agreed with the statement: "A tax on the carbon content of fuels would be a less expensive way to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions than would a collection of policies such as 'corporate average fuel economy' requirements for automobiles." There's no doubt that economic advisers offer similar advice when policy makers consider regulations like the vacuum cleaner ban. Unfortunately, these misguided policies often turn out to be more politically feasible than a carbon tax.
第八段作者引用了一个具体的例子，a 2011 poll，来证明这项税收措施得到了经济学家的广泛支持。在这次调查中，90%的leading academic economists赞同carbon tax ‘would be a less expensive way to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions than would a collection of policies’,如此高的百分比表现了对于碳税的支持，也充分说明了这项措施的合理性。之后作者把话题延伸到了vacuum ban上来，推断对于这项禁令，经济学家们会给出同样的观点。
That may change going forward, however. As policy makers look to trim budgets and find additional sources of revenue, a carbon tax could represent a good compromise between conservatives and liberals – a way to address climate change while protecting consumer freedom and raising revenue that can be used to lower other taxes.
在文章结尾，作者指出，尽管vacuum ban和其他的禁令在政治方面更具有可行性，但是carbon tax却在足够的预算和带来额外的收入方面更有优势。这里作者认为碳税是‘a good compromise between conservatives and liberals’，既有助于解决天气变化的问题，又可以保护消费者选择自己生活方式的自由，从而程度上争取了不同立场的读者的支持。