Sometimes government needs to step into the corporate world

The federal government has become quite active. there are many times where this isn’t a good idea – especially in the bailouts of poorly run companies. But I’m not going to comment on the stimulus package or TARP in this post.

As a venture capitalist I believe in free markets and innovation. And I’m an optimist. In good times and in bad.

But sometimes the government needs to step in for the greater good.

Think education. Or healthcare. I’m all for private education and healthcare but I also believe that our taxes should fund these important services for everyone. Its a good use of taxes and its for the greater good. Even if you don’t have kids or in good health. It effects us all.

There are plenty of other examples in the corporate world as well. Think minimum wage. Its too low now but imagine if we didn’t have it at all. Or child labor laws. Or sarbanes-ox (yes, it needs to be revised but there is a reason for it). Think about the environment.
You get the idea. Sometimes businesses don’t act in their self interest or the community best interest.

I feel the same way about employee non compete agreements. These things are part of the status quo here in MA and N and plenty of other states. They are not the same thing as confidentiality agreements or non solicitation agreements (I believe in both of those agreements). And companies and shareholders are already protected under federal law against disclosure of trade secrets. That’s good too.

But employee non compete agreements aren’t good for anyone. They aren’t good for companies, shareholders, employees or society. They stifle innovation and keep companies big and small from competing and creating. Competition is the basis for innovation and you can’t compete or innovate in a vacuum.

I’m working with state representatives to introduce legislation that will get rid of these things for good.

It will take time but sometimes government needs to step up and provide leadership in the corporate world.

And this is one of those times.

(Disclaimer: wrote this post on my blackberry in the dentist office. so excuse the typos and poor writing. Thanks!)