There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God Bless! [sic] Keep a Big Hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Elizabeth Warren (via jacobjoaquin)

Up next: a public hearing on employee-non compete agreements at the State House

As some of you know, I wrote a post almost two years ago taking a stand against employee non-compete agreements which are legal and enforced in my state (MA) and many others.

I was thrilled that a number of public debates and panels have take place since then on the subject. And many entrepreneurs, VCs, CEOs and employees have voiced their support in this effort to get rid of employee non-compete agreements. These efforts led to House Bill 1794 which attempts to limit the use and term of such agreements.

People have asked me how they can help. Until now, I responded by saying that we need to do this in a grassroots fashion. Blog & tweet about it. Get rid of these things in your organizations, tell your VC, tell your board, tell your employees that you don’t want these things anymore.

Right now, I’m asking that you do all of that but I’m asking for one more thing.

There will be a public hearing on this issue at the State House on Oct 7th at 10:30am. The hearing is to discuss the merits of House Bill 1794 which is an effort to reduce the employee non-compete agreements significantly.

Please show your support and attend this public hearing. If you can’t attend in person then please submit your written testimony in advance (instructions here). Also I ask that you spread the word about this hearing.

I believe this is a very important issue. Competition and innovation go hand in hand.

Update: Scott Kirsner also wrote about this hearing and includes a link to some interesting data.

A Change Is Going To Come – Arcade Fire

Yesterdays ruling in California re Prop8 is heartbreaking. This is a civil rights issue. Unfortunately the legal system won’t fix this inequality right now. But equal rights is coming. It must. And if the courts won’t fix this, then it needs to be solved in the at the ballot box. That’s our duty.

The public school system is failing those who need it most

Lauren and I went to a lunch yesterday and met with US Senator Michael Bennet.

Senator Bennet talked about a number of things but I felt much of his passion around his desire to fix our public schools. Prior to becoming Senator he was the superintendent for the Denver Public Schools.

He had a balanced view about the blame (all of us adults, not the kids) but he first shared a few data points to make the point loud & clear. Here’s some of the things I learned.

-70% of 8th readers don’t read at their grade level

-a nine year old from a low income family is already 3 years behind their high income peers and has a 1 in 2 chance of graduating high school and 1 in 10 chance of finishing college

– 1.2M of our students drop out of high school every year. Globally we rank 20th amongst industrial nations for high school graduations. Forty years ago we were first

Great education starts with the best teachers. And we are not helping recruit and keep our best teachers either. Current salaries are beyond ridiculous for teachers. We need to fix that. Teacher unions and the administrators need to ditch their current power struggles for the old discussion and ditch sacred cows. They aren’t working. Currently half of our public school teachers quit in the first five years.

There were many more stats and facts shared but the Senator’s punchline was clear when he said, "Our public education system, as designed, does not work well enough for all children in this country, and, for our poorest children, barely works at all.“

I am fortunate that our kids live in a town where we have good public schools. And I am hardly the expert in public school matters across our nation. I learned a lot yesterday about things I knew in my gut. I need to learn more about these issues and how we can help.

I am convinced the first step is stand up and acknowledge the current model isn’t working. We can’t accept it. We can do better.

We made a campaign contribution yesterday. I think Senator Bennet is exceptionally bright and believe he’s focused on the right issues. I hope he keeps his office next year.

Sometimes when we see numbers it’s hard to put them in context.

Consider the absolute numbers of people that aren’t educated or live in poverty or don’t have adequate healthcare. The numbers can be overwhelming.

This visual presentation helps by asking what if the world was condesed to a village of 100 people. Worth watching.

(please note: the text in the beginning was meant to go fast to make a point about how confusing the numbers are without context)

Coming to Beacon Hill: A bill to get rid of employee non-compete agreements

About a year ago I wrote about the negative impacts of employee non compete agreements. I wrote that we should get rid of them in Massachussets and in other states where non-competes are routinely enforced.

Since then the collective voice for innovation and open competition has increased quite a bit. There have been a number of a panels discussing this topic openly. We’ve talked to members of Governor Patrick’s staff. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are speaking up. And so are local tech leaders.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Caroline Huang. Caroline is someone I met shortly after writing my post on the subject and she has been a firm supporter in the effort to get rid of employee non-compete agreements. She told me that she has been working with her local elected officials to get a bill introduced to the state legislature.

And today State Representative Will Brownsberger announced today that he will introduce legislation that would abolish employee non-compete agreements in Massachusetts. 

This is a fantastic milestone. Many thanks to Rep Brownsberger for taking this on and a special thanks to Caroline for her hard work & determination to make this happen.

But we have a lot of work to do. Large companies in this state want to maintain the status quo (even though they have a double standard for their california employees). 

So we need your help. Please spread the word, get involved, contact your local state representative and tell them that you support Rep Brownsberger’s efforts.

Yes we can :)

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God’s plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, “It was a task from God.”