PASSING through California on a mid-term campaign swing, Barack Obama made a point of stopping off to see Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple. He also hob-nobbed with executives from Google and other Silicon Valley companies. More than any of his predecessors, Mr Obama likes to pay homage to the titans of technology. They, in turn, have lavished him with praise and political donations. But now many tech folk are worrying out loud that his government is not as serious about supporting innovation as it purports to be.
奥巴马在加利福尼亚州为中期选举游说拉票时,刻意停留了一下,会见了苹果的老总乔布斯。此外奥巴马也巴结谷歌和其他硅谷公司的执行官们。和他的前任们不同,奥巴马更愿意尊敬科技巨头。反过来,科技巨头们也慷慨地给予了奥巴马好评和政治捐助。但是现在很多科技人很担心奥巴马的政府并不像其标榜的那样热衷于支持创新。

The tech crowd thought the latest occupant of the White House was one of their own. An enigmatic politician with strong convictions, Mr Obama in many ways resembled the driven young spirits that venture capitalists love to take a punt on. And during the presidential campaign he wowed Silicon Valley with an elevator pitch that envisaged using social media and other technologies developed there to fashion a new and radical political order. Everything from Mr Obama’s addiction to his BlackBerry to his keenness to see maths and science promoted in schools suggested he would be the most tech-friendly president in history. Small wonder, then, that the techies swooned over him.
高科技人群认为最新的白宫主人是他们自己人。作为一个有着坚定信念的神秘的政客,奥巴马在很多方面都很像那些奋发图强心态年轻的科技精英,这也使得风险投资人们愿意在他身上押宝。在总统竞选时,奥巴马的电梯测验(30秒内准确地向客户解释清楚解决方案——译注)让硅谷叫好连连。他设想利用在硅谷开发的社会媒体和其他高科技形成一个新的不同凡响的政治秩序。从他对黑莓的执念,到他热切希望学校推广数学和理科,奥巴马的诸多行为都表明,他是历史上最善待科技的总统。难怪科技人才们都成为了他的拥护者。

Nor is it surprising that many of them are now starting to feel badly let down. “There’s a strong feeling that this government really lacks direction,” says Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association. Many of its 2,000 members, he adds, are unwilling to invest in new initiatives while there is so much uncertainty about future policy.
然而,如今很多科技人才觉得非常失望也并非出乎意料。“政府无疑迷失了方向,这种感觉很强烈。”消费电子协会的负责人加里·夏皮罗(Gary Shapiro)如是说。他还说到,协会中有2000个会员,很多会员不愿意在未来政策如此不明朗的情况下为新的初始案投资。

That is a familiar refrain. Michael Splinter, the boss of Applied Materials, which makes equipment for the semiconductor industry, is one of several prominent executives who have called on the government to do far more to tackle measures that deter investment. Another source of friction is the reluctance in Washington to reduce hefty taxes on foreign earnings repatriated to America. As many American tech firms make a large share of their revenue and profit outside the country, they are particularly exercised by the government’s reluctance to lighten this burden.
这已是耳熟能详的老调子了。很多杰出的执行官都呼吁政府做出更多努力,解决阻碍投资的各种困难,而为半导体产业生产精密薄膜制造系统的应用材料公司的老总迈克尔·斯普林特(Michael Splinter)就是其中之一。摩擦的另一个原因在于华盛顿方面不愿意减少对调回美国的国外利润征收的巨额税款。由于国外获得的利润占很多美国高科技公司总收入和利润的一大部分,所以面对政府不愿意减轻这种负担的倾向,他们格外焦虑。

To make matters worse, tech leaders have been outraged by Mr Obama’s willingness to demonise employers for outsourcing work to foreign countries, which is especially popular within the IT industry, and by his grating sermons on the evils of corporate greed. “We’re praised for creating jobs, while being spanked at the same time,” complains Mark Heesen of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), which represents funds that invest in technology start-ups.
更不妙的是,奥巴马先生将那些把工作外包到国外的老板视为魔鬼,并且令人不悦的言辞训诫罪恶的企业贪婪。这种行为激怒了高科技众领袖,因为外包在IT行业是很普遍的事情。“因为扩宽了就业,我们被表扬,但同时又被轮了耳光。”美国风险投资协会(NVCA)的马克·希森(Mark Heesen )如是抱怨道。NVCA代表了投资于高科技新兴企业的诸多经费来源。

This may seem like sour grapes. After all, the tech industry has been a big beneficiary of the Obama administration’s efforts to stabilise the economy. The government is investing over $100 billion to spur innovation in everything from renewable energy to health-care IT and electric cars. And it has at least taken some steps which the tech companies have long been lobbying for, including appointing a chief technology officer to promote technology innovations within the federal government, encouraging the Federal Communications Commission to roll out a national broadband plan and stepping up efforts to promote science and engineering skills in schools and colleges.
这就像是一个酸葡萄。毕竟,奥巴马政府全力稳定经济的大受惠人就是高科技产业。政府就激励创新投资了一千多亿美元,范围涉及方方面面,从可再生能源到医疗IT到电能汽车。而且,政府至少是采取了一些高科技公司长久渴望的措施,包括任命一位首席技术官,从联邦政府内不促进科技创新;鼓励美国联邦通信委员会退出一份全国款待计划并加紧在中小学和大学推广科学和工程学技术。

What about cleantech?
清洁科技怎么样?

Tech firms and venture capitalists welcome these initiatives, but are deeply frustrated by a lack of action in other areas. For instance, many cleantech start-ups and their backers were betting that Mr Obama would push through an energy bill that would force America to embrace alternative sources of energy more aggressively. But that came a cropper in the Senate.
高科技公司和风险投资人欢迎这些初始行动,但是由于政府在其他领域缺少行动而受到巨大的打击。例如,很多清洁科技的新兴企业和它们的支持者们都押宝奥巴马能通过能源法案,该法案会促使美国更积极地采用可替代能源。但是最终在参议院,该法案以惨剧收尾。

Entrepreneurs complain bitterly about the government’s failure to deal with frustrating red tape. Luka Erceg, the boss of Simbol Materials, a start-up that produces lithium and other metals from brines and effluent, reckons he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and other fees applying for funds from the federal stimulus package. “There is just too much friction in getting capital to flow,” he says.
企业家们苦涩地抱怨政府办事不利,没有处理好令人沮丧的繁文缛节。辛博尔材料公司的老板卢卡·俄斯格(Luka Erceg)估计,为了申请联邦政府的经济刺激案的经费,他已经花了成百上千美元的法律及各种费了。他说“让资金流动起来阻力太大了。”辛博尔材料公司是一家新兴企业,专门从盐水和工业污水中萃取锂和其他金属。 更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

Then there is the thorny issue of trade. Some tech firms accuse the government of failing to put enough effort into trade agreements that would help to boost their sales. “We need fair and open markets and that takes a lot of work,” says John Chen, the chief executive of Sybase, an American software firm owned by Germany’s SAP. There are also worries that friction with China over exchange rates and other issues could damage the interests of American tech firms which have Chinese subcontractors and factories.
然后就有了棘手的贸易问题。一些高科技公司指责政府没有付出足够的努力促成本可以大大提高他们销售的贸易协定。“我们需要公平开放的市场,而做到这个需要很多工作。”德国SAP旗下的美国公司赛贝斯首席执行官程守宗如是说。还有其他人担心,美国和中国就汇率和其他问题的摩擦会毁了那些在中国有转包商和工厂的美国科技公司的利益。

The tech industry is also concerned about the difficulty of importing skilled labour. Tight visa controls on highly qualified immigrants have been a huge headache for firms such as Microsoft and IBM. And they infuriate venture capitalists, who claim the controls are robbing America of entrepreneurial talent. Demand for visas from skilled workers dipped during the recession, but it is likely to become a problem again as the economy recovers.
高科技行业也担心技术劳动力入境困难的问题。美国对于高质量移民签证的严格管理已成为微软,IBM之类公司一大头痛的问题。而且这种严格的监控也激怒了风险投资人,他们认为这种监控掠夺了美国的企业家人才。在萧条时期,对于技术人员签证的要求有所降低,但是随着经济的复苏,这很可能再次成为一个问题。

Here again, Mr Obama has proved to be a disappointment. Many hoped he would try to convince Congress to separate skilled people from broader immigration issues, but he has been reluctant to do so. Might that change after the mid-terms? Mr Heesen of the NVCA points out that the notion of making it easier for America to attract the best and brightest has already won some bipartisan support. John Kerry, a Democratic senator, and Dick Lugar, a Republican one, have sponsored a proposal to give visas to some immigrants keen to start new businesses.
于是奥巴马再一次被证实只会让人失望。很多人希望他能够说服国会将技术人员和普通的移民问题分开对待,但是奥巴马并不愿意这样做。在中期选举后,这种情况会不会有所改观呢?NVCA的希森先生指出,希望美国能更容易吸引优秀杰出人才的想法,已经得到了两党的一些支持。民主党参议员约翰·克里(John Kerry)和共和党议员迪克·卢格(Dick Lugar)已经支持了一份旨在给予热切希望开启新业务的移民签证的提案。

Tech folk have not given up on Mr Obama altogether. The Valley’s campaign donations to Democrats still greatly outpace those made to Republican candidates. No doubt they are hoping that the first “tech president” will at last live up to their expectations. In a speech in Silicon Valley, Mr Obama reiterated that he wants to create the conditions in America that would give rise to the next Google and the next Hewlett-Packard. But he will have to do much more to convince the tech industry that he really means it.
科技人并没有完全放弃奥巴马先生,相比共和党候选人,他们给了民主党更多的竞选捐款。毫无疑问他们希望第一位“亲科技总统”能够不辜负他们的厚望。奥巴马在硅谷的一次演讲中反复强调他希望在美国为下一代谷歌,惠普的成长创造有利环境。不过要说服高科技行业自己确实是势在必行,奥巴马恐怕还有很多工作要做。