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The miserable fate of Enron’s employees will be a landmark in business history, one of those awful events that everyone agrees must never be allowed to happen again. This urge is understandable and noble: thousands have lost virtually all their retirement savings with the demise of Enron stock. But making sure it never happens again may not be possible, because the sudden impoverishment of those Enron workers represents something even larger than it seems. It’s the latest turn in the unwinding of one of the most audacious promise of the 20th century.
? The promise was assured economic security-even comfort- for essentially everyone in the developed world. With the explosion of wealth, that began in the 19th century it became possible to think about a possibility no one had dared to dream before. The fear at the center of daily living since caveman days- lack of food warmth, shelter- would at last lose its power to terrify. That remarkable promise became reality in many ways. Governments created welfare systems for anyone in need and separate programmes for the elderly (Social Security in the U.S.). Labour unions promised not only better pay for workers but also pensions for retirees. Giant corporations came into being and offered the possibility- in some cases the promise- of lifetime employment plus guaranteed pensions.? The cumulative effect was a fundamental change in how millions of people approached life itself, a reversal of attitude that most rank as one of the largest in human history. For millennia the average person’s stance toward providing for himself had been. Ultimately I’m on my own. Now it became, Ultimately I’ll be taken care of.
The early hints that this promise might be broken on a large scale came in the 1980s. U.S. business had become uncompetitive globally and began restructuring massively, with huge Layoffs. The trend accelerated in the 1990s as the bastions of corporate welfare faced reality. IBM ended it’s no-layoff policy. AT&T fired thousands, many of whom found such a thing simply incomprehensible, and a few of whom killed themselves. The other supposed guarantors of our economic security were also in decline. Labour-union membership and power fell to their lowest levels in decades. President Clinton signed a historic bill scaling back welfare. Americans realized that Social Security won’t provide social security for any of us. (来源:专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)
A less visible but equally significant trend a affected pensions. To make costs easier to control, companies moved away from defined benefit pension plans, which obligate them to pay out specified amounts years in the future, to defined contribution plans, which specify only how much goes into the play today. The most common type of defined-contribution plan is the 401(k). the significance of
The 401(k) is that it puts most of the responsibility for a person’s economic fate back on the employee. Within limits the employee must decide how much goes into the plan each year and how it gets invested- the two factors that will determine how much it’s worth when the employee retires.
Which brings us back to Enron? Those billions of dollars in vaporized retirement savings went in employees’ 401(k) accounts. That is, the employees chose how much money to put into those accounts and then chose how to invest it. Enron matched a certain proportion of each employee’s 401(k) contribution with company stock, so everyone was going to end up with some Enron in his or her portfolio; but that could be regarded as a freebie, since nothing compels a company to match employee contributions at all.At least two special features complicate the Enron case. First, some shareholders charge top management with illegally covering up the company’s problems, prompting investors to hang on when they should have sold. Second, Enron’s 401(k) accounts were locked while the company changed plan administrators in October, when the stock was falling, so employees could not have closed their accounts if they wanted to.
But by far the largest cause of this human tragedy is that thousands of employees were heavily overweighed in Enron stock. Many had placed 100% of their 401(k) assets in the stock rather than in the 18 other investment options they were offered. Of course that wasn’t prudent, but it’s what some of them did.
The Enron employees’’ retirement disaster is part of the larger trend away from guaranteed economic security. That’s why preventing such a thing from ever happening again may be impossible. The huge attitudinal shift to I’ll-be-taken-care-of took at least a generation. The shift back may take just as long. It won’t be complete until a new generation of employees see assured economic comfort as a 20th- century quirk, and understand not just intellectually but in their bones that, like most people in most times and places, they’re on their own

26. why does the author say at the beginning “The miserable fate of Enron’s employees will be a landmark in business history…”?
A. Because the company has gone bankrupt.
B. Because such events would never happen again.
C. Because many Enron workers lost their retirement savings.
D. Because it signifies a turning point in economic security.√

27. According to the passage, the combined efforts by governments, layout unions and big corporations to guarantee economic comfort have led to a significant change in
A. people’s outlook on life.√
B. people’s life styles.
C. people’s living standard
D. people’s social values.

28. Changes in pension schemes were also part of
A. the corporate lay-offs.
B. the government cuts in welfare spending.√
C. the economic restructuring.
D. the warning power of labors unions.

29. Thousands of employees chose Enron as their sole investment option mainly because
A. The 401(k) made them responsible for their own future.
B. Enron offered to add company stock to their investment.√
C. their employers intended to cut back on pension spending.
D. Enron’s offer was similar to a defined-benefit plan.

30. Which is NOT seen as a lesson drawn from the Enron disaster?
A. 401(k) assets should be placed in more than one investment option.
B. Employees have to take up responsibilities for themselves.
C. Such events could happen again as it is not easy to change people’s mind.
D. Economic security won’t be taken for granted by future young workers.√

31. The majority of the current population in the UK are decedents of all the following tribes respectively EXCEPT
A. the Anglos
B. the Celts
C. the Jutes √
D. the Saxons

32. The Head of State of Canada is represented by
A. the Monarch
B. the President
C. the Prime Minister
D. the Governor-general √

33. The Declaration of Independence was written by
A. Thomas Jefferson √
B. George Washington
C. Alexander Hamilton
D. James Madison

34. The original inhabitants of Australia were
A. the Red Indians
B. the Eskimos
C. the Aborigines √
D. the Maoris

35. Which of the following novels was written by Emily Bronte?
A. Oliver Twist
B. Middlemarch
C. Jane Eyre
D. Wuthering Heights √

36. William Butler Yeats was a(n) ______ poet and playwright.
A. American
B. Canadian
C. Irish √
D. Australian

37. Death of a Salesman was written by
A. Arthur Miller √
B. Ernest Hemingway
C. Ralph Ellison
D. James Baldwin

38. _______ refers to the study of the internal structure of words and the rules of word formation.
A. Phonology
B. Morphology √
C. Semantics
D. Sociolinguistics

39. The distinctive features of a speech variety may be all the following EXCEPT
A. lexical
B. syntactic
C. phonological
D. psycholinguistic √

40. The word tail once referred to “the tail of a horse”, but now it is used to mean “the tail of any animal.” This is an example of
A. widening of meaning √
B. narrowing of meaning
C. meaning shift
D. loss of meaning
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