"Recently an acquaintance at the next table in a Palo Alto,
California, restaurant introduced me to his companions: three young
venture capitalists from China. They explained, with visible
excitement, that they were touring promising companies in Silicon
Valley. I've lived in the Valley a long time, and usually when I
see how the region has become such a draw for global investments, I
feel a little proud.
"Not this time. I left the restaurant unsettled. Something
didn't add up. Bay Area unemployment is even higher than the 9.7
percent national average. Clearly, the great Silicon Valley
innovation machine hasn't been creating many jobs of late -- unless
you are counting Asia, where American technology companies have
been adding jobs like mad for years.
"The underlying problem isn't simply lower Asian costs. It's our
own misplaced faith in the power of startups to create U.S. jobs.
Americans love the idea of the guys in the garage inventing
something that changes the world. New York Times columnist Thomas
L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called
"Start-Ups, Not Bailouts." His argument: Let tired old companies
that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington
really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back
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