In many ways, today’s business environment has changed qualitatively since the late 1980s. The end of the Cold War radically altered the very nature of the world’s politics and economics. In just a few short years, globalization has started a variety of trends with profound consequences: the opening of markets, true global competition, widespread deregulation (解除政府对……的控制) of industry, and an abundance of accessible capital. We have experienced both the benefits and risks of a truly global economy, with both Wall Street and Main Street (平民百姓) feeling the pains of economic disorder half a world away.
At the same time, we have fully entered the Information Age, Starting breakthroughs in information technology have irreversibly altered the ability to conduct business unconstrained by the traditional limitations of time or space. Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without intranets, e-mail, and portable computers. With stunning speed, the Internet is profoundly changing the way we work, shop, do business, and communicate.
As a consequence, we have truly entered the Post-Industrial economy. We are rapidly shifting from an economy based on manufacturing and commodities to one that places the greatest value on information, services, support, and distribution. That shift, in turn, place an unprecedented premium on “knowledge workers,” a new class of wealthy, educated, and mobile people who view themselves as free agents in a seller’s market.
Beyond the realm of information technology, the accelerated pace of technological change in virtually every industry has created entirely new business, wiped out others, and produced a Pervasive( 广泛的) demand for continuous innovation. New product, process ,and distribution technologies provide powerful levers for creating competitive value. More companies are learning the importance of destructive technologies-----innovations that hold the potential to make a product line, or even an entire business segment, virtually outdated.
Another major trend has been the fragmentation of consumer and business markets. There’s a growing appreciation that superficially similar groups of customers may have very different preferences in terms of what they want to buy and how they want to buy it. Now, new technology makes it easier, faster ,and cheaper to identify and serve targeted micro-markets in ways that were physically impossible or prohibitively expensive in the past. Moreover, the trend feeds on itself, a business’s ability to serve sub-markets fuels customers’ appetites for more and more specialized offerings. 【題組】38. If a business wants to thrive in the Post-Industrial economy,__________
(A) it has to invest more capital in the training of free agents to operate in a seller’s market
(B) it should try its best to satisfy the increasing demands of mobile knowledgeable people
(C) it should not overlook the importance of information, services, support, and distribution
(D) it has to provide each of its employees with the latest information about the changing market
Early in the age of affluence (富裕) that followed World War II, an American retailing analyst named Victor Lebow proclaimed, “Our enormously productive economy ... demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. ... We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate.”
Americans have responded to Lebow’s call, and much of the world has followed.
Consumption has become a central pillar of life in industrial lands and is even embedded in social values. Opinion surveys in the world’s two largest economies—Japan and the United Sates—show consumerist definitions of success becoming ever more prevalent.
Overconsumption by the world’s fortunate is an environmental problem unmatched in severity by anything but perhaps population growth. Their surging exploitation of resources threatens to exhaust or unalterably spoil forests, soils, water, air and climate.
Ironically, high consumption may be a mixed blessing in human terms, too. The time-honored values of integrity of character, good work, friendship, family and community have often been sacrificed in the rush to riches.
Thus many in the industrial lands have a sense that their world of plenty is somehow hollow—that, misled by a consumerist culture, they have been fruitlessly attempting to satisfy what are essentially social, psychological and spiritual needs with material things.
Of course, the opposite of overconsumption—poverty—is no solution to either environmental or human problems. It is infinitely worse for people and bad for the natural world too. Dispossessed (被剥夺得一无所有的) peasants slash-and-burn their way into the rain forests of Latin America, and hungry nomads (游牧民族) turn their herds out onto fragile African grassland, reducing it to desert.
If environmental destruction results when people have either too little or too much, we are left to wonder how much is enough. What level of consumption can the earth support? When does having more cease to add noticeably to human satisfaction?
【題組】39. According to the passage, consumerist culture ________.
(A) cannot thrive on a fragile economy
(B) will not aggravate environmental problems
(C) cannot satisfy human spiritual needs
(D) will not alleviate poverty in wealthy countries
Directions: There are 2 passages in this section. Each passage is followed by some questions or unfinished statements. For each of them there are four choices marked (A), (B), (C) and (D). You should decide on the best choice and mark the corresponding letter on Answer Sheet 2 with a single line through the centre.
Questions 52 to 56 are based on the following passage.
At the heart of the debate over illegal immigration lies one key question: are immigrants good or bad for the economy? The American public overwhelmingly thinks they're bad. Yet the consensus among most economists is that immigration, both legal and illegal, provides a small net boost to the economy. Immigrants provide cheap labor, lower the prices of everything from farm produce to new homes, and leave consumers with a little more money in their pockets. So why is there such a discrepancy between the perception of immigrants' impact on the economy and the reality?
There are a number of familiar theories. Some argue that people are anxious and feel threatened by an inflow of new workers. Others highlight the strain that undocumented immigrants place on public services, like schools, hospitals, and jails. Still others emphasize the role of race, arguing that foreigners add to the nation's fears and insecurities. There's some truth to all these explanations, but they aren't quite sufficient.
To get a better understanding of what's going on, consider the way immigration's impact is felt. Though its overall effect may be positive, its costs and benefits are distributed unevenly. David Card, an economist at UC Berkeley, notes that the ones who profit most directly from immigrants' low-cost labor are businesses and employers – meatpacking plants in Nebraska, for instance, or agricultural businesses in California. Granted, these producers' savings probably translate into lower prices at the grocery store, but how many consumers make that mental connection at the checkout counter? As for the drawbacks of illegal immigration, these, too, are concentrated. Native low-skilled workers suffer most from the competition of foreign labor. According to a study by George Borjas, a Harvard economist, immigration reduced the wages of American high-school dropouts by 9% between 1980-2000.
Among high-skilled, better-educated employees, however, opposition was strongest in states with both high numbers of immigrants and relatively generous social services. What worried them most, in other words, was the fiscal (财政的)burden of immigration. That conclusion was reinforced by another finding: that their opposition appeared to soften when that fiscal burden decreased, as occurred with welfare reform in the 1990s, which curbed immigrants' access to certain benefits.
The irony is that for all the overexcited debate, the net effect of immigration is minimal. Even for those most acutely affected – say, low-skilled workers, or California residents – the impact isn't all that dramatic. "The unpleasant voices have tended to dominate our perceptions," says Daniel Tichenor, a political science professor at the University of Oregon. "But when all those factors are put together and the economists calculate the numbers, it ends up being a net positive, but a small one." Too bad most people don't realize it.
What can we learn from the first paragraph?
(A) Whether immigrants are good or bad for the economy has been puzzling economists.
(B) The American economy used to thrive on immigration but now it's a different story.
(C) The consensus among economists is that immigration should not be encouraged.
(D) The general public thinks differently from most economists on the impact of immigration.