To Compete or Not to Compete...
That is the question... whose answer could soon change.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Before we get started this week, I wanted to wish you all a happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in remembrance of a great and important figure in our nation’s history.
A few decades back, when I was working on my college business degree, I remember learning quite a bit about non-compete agreements and thinking, “Man, what a crazy concept.”
Such agreements prevent a company’s outgoing employees from working for a competing company for a certain amount of time. To be clear, I’ve always understood why they’re a thing. Companies that implement them do so for the purpose of protecting their business investments (as a condition of employment or being released from employment).
Most often, they’re used with highly-paid, highly-skilled workers who have a particular expertise — expertise an employer wants to keep, and that could significantly advantage any competitor who gains it. But non-competes also happen in lower-paying, lower-skilled jobs to deter employees from seeking higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
From an employee’s perspective, they can be a very raw deal. Sure, workers enter into them voluntarily, but sometimes such agreements aren’t presented until after an individual has already taken a job, and has perhaps turned down other offers. Such leverage often compels workers to just comply, rather than going through the hassle of quitting and starting over on their job-search.
A this point in the newsletter, you may be asking yourself, “Why did John choose such a sexy topic to write about this week?” Good question.
The short answer is that it’s been in the news. The long answer is that I’d originally planned to write about something else this week, but felt it best (for a couple different reasons) to postpone that particular essay. Anyway, let’s get back to the news-cycle angle…
You see, the Federal Trade Commission recently proposed banning non-compete agreements nationwide, which would be a pretty big deal. As The Dispatch reported the other day, there’s been a lot of voiced public support behind the move:
There’s the biotech startup cofounder upset that pharmaceutical company non-competes have stifled his headhunting. The veterinarian who says she stuck it out at a poorly managed practice until conditions got bad enough that she found a job outside her non-compete radius—120 miles from her husband, visiting only on weekends. The man who recalls borrowing money from his dad to pay lawyers to fight a non-compete after he was fired during a recession.
That last account in particular caught my attention. As someone whose 16-year job as a systems analyst ended at a long-struggling company in the wake of the Great Recession (at a time when few employers were hiring) its scary to imagine a contractual obligation to your former employer making the quest for gainful employment, in an already tough economic environment (like we most recently saw from the pandemic), many times harder.
Whether the FTC’s proposal will actually be implemented is a real question. It will certainly face a number of legal challenges, including whether the government agency even has the authority to impose such a change. To a small-government, free-market, pro-capitalism kind of guy, that’s a big issue.
From my perspective, much better than the FTC making a change like this would be the U.S. Congress (where bipartisan legislation already exists, but has been stalled for time). Much better than Congress would be the states making these types of decisions (some already have). Much better than the states would be more local government branches (counties, cities, towns, etc). Much better than them would be individual businesses proactively re-thinking their use of non-competes, or at least informing potential hires of that use ahead of time (including explaining to those individuals exactly what the agreements entail). Perhaps best, in conjunction with the previous approach, would be employees or prospective employees taking the initiative to educate themselves on what exactly they’d be getting themselves into by signing a non-disclosure.
Of course, us small-government types (who are on the verge of extinction) rarely get our way. 😉
Regardless, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for non-compete agreements. My sense is that their days are numbered.
Have you ever signed a non-compete agreement? How did it work out? Let me know in an email or in the comment section below.
Comedy in Ice
I wrote about my fondness for comedian Joe Pera in my last newsletter, and also mentioned that I was getting ready to see him, for the first time, perform standup. It happened last Thursday night at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, CO, as part of the comedian’s “Comedy in Ice” winter tour, and my son and I had an absolute blast.
I had never seen Pera’s standup act on YouTube or anywhere else, so I was curious how well the character I’d come to enjoy through his television show would present on stage. The answer: remarkably well.
Jokingly introduced as the world’s youngest living World War II veteran, Pera — of course carefully and methodically — brought down the house. To my surprise, a good amount of his act consists of engaging in conversations with the audience, in which he displayed remarkable improvisational skill in parlaying strangers’ musings into smart humor.
If you ever get a chance to check him out live, I highly recommend it.
Remembering Dolores O'Riordan
Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of the passing of Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Irish rock band, The Cranberries. I can’t remember a musician’s death that hit me harder than hers did. Her music always struck me as incredibly sincere, and at the age of 46, she was taken way before her time.
I still contend that the band’s most well known hit, “Zombie,” was one of the best songs of the era. And whenever it was performed live, it arguably sounded even better. O’Riordan was a great talent, and is sorely missed.
On today’s “No BS Zone,” the regular video-cast I do with longtime national journalist Bernard Goldberg, we had our first ever special guest: Kimberly Ross of the Washington Examiner!
It was a fun (and I believe very insightful) conversation about today’s politics, including the 2024 presidential election. I’ve gotten to know Kimberly online over the past few years, and it was great to have her on.
By the way, this regular video-cast is just one of the many features available to BernardGoldberg.com premium subscribers. Yes, that’s a plug. I’d love to have you subscribe and join us. It’s cheap, and the content is thoughtful and smart.
Obligatory Dog Shot
Mondays are hard.
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
Interested in a signed copy? You can order one (or five) here.
Already read and enjoyed it? I’d love if you could leave a review for the book on Amazon.
“Flash… Ah-ah. Savior of the universe!”
I saw 1980’s Flash Gordon in a movie theater when I was just eight. It was for a friend’s birthday party, and though I can’t remember which friend it was (or who else was there for that matter), three things about the experience remain in my memory.
It was at the Continental theater in Denver, which was the largest, grandest of its time (I only got to go to it on special occasions).
The film’s bright, bold colors… from the clothes, to the makeup, to the props, to the set design.
The blaring rock music.
I didn’t know much about the iconic band, Queen, at the time. I probably didn’t even realize they were the same group that sang "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" — staple songs in my elementary school gym class (along with “YMCA” and that weird disco version of Star Wars).
But the original music the band wrote and performed for Flash Gordon struck a young John Daly as absolutely savage, especially growing up in a household where the edgiest tunes on the family radio (before I had my own radio, and did some experimenting) came from Peter, Paul & Mary.
It was a real awakening for me, and though I don’t remember if I even liked the music at the time (I probably worried that it was the type of stuff my parents wouldn’t want me listening to), I certainly came to enjoy it (and lots of other music from Queen) later on. To this day, whenever I hear “Flash… Ah-ah,” my mind goes right back to my childhood and that night in the theater (and also that time, many years later, when I met “Flash” himself).
The soundtrack is always a fun listen.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
Want to drop me a line? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you haven’t subscribed to this newsletter yet, please click on the “Subscribe now” button below. Doing so will get these posts emailed directly to you.
Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.
Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!