Bend Business Roundup 2-14-20

Bend Business Roundup 2-14-20

Happy Friday and happy Valentine’s Day,

Here’s some stuff you might like. I hope you’ll take a minute (literally) to take part in.

Business: A town described as “127 miles south of Burns,” is going to be remote and tiny and Fields, Oregon does not disappoint in either department. It’s at the southern end of Steens Mountain, which is itself remote. But the northern end of the mountain, anchored by the metropolis of French Glen, is relatively accessible for people going to see the Steens. In contrast, you have to really work at it to go to Fields. I’ve only been there once, on an epic drive from Bend with my buddy who’s also a politically inclined lawyer (imagine being in the car with us for eight hours and count your blessings you weren’t with us).

Anyway, unbeknownst to me at the time, apparently Fields is home to some really good milkshakes. We got gas at The Fields Station, but didn’t venture inside, unfortunately. I won’t make that mistake again.

Law: For years, the Oregon has waged a war of attrition against agreements which restrain employees from competing with their former employer for a period of time after termination of employment, aka non-competition agreements or as lawyers say when they think no one is listening, non-competes. Employers can only hope to enforce them against well-paid professionals, must provide a copy of the agreement before the employee’s start date, etc. At least 90% of these I see are unenforceable under Oregon law.

Now, in a law that went into effect January 1, the legislature has conditioned enforceability of a non-competition agreement on the employer providing to the former employee a copy of the signed agreement within 30 days of the termination of employment. So this is one more hurdle employers must jump, and this one at the end rather than at the beginning of the employment period.

Politics: Allow me to try to tie together two recent developments: (1) There are now more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in Deschutes County, for the first time in a very long time; and (2) the Democrats appear at least somewhat likely to nominate an actual socialist, Bernie Sanders, as their presidential candidate.

First of all, some clarity around what I mean by “socialist.” If you’ve hung around conservative folks, you may have heard them refer to relatively mainstream Democrats as “socialists.” Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, etc. Those guys aren’t socialists. Eugene Debs, a five-time presidential candidate in the early 20th century was a socialist at a time when socialism was on the rise, with the 1917 Russian revolution ultimately creating the first modern nation-state based upon the social, i.e. government, ownership of the means of production. Despite the historical moment, Debs never received the nomination of a major party – he ran as the presidential candidate of a series of small socialist parties.

Between Debs’s last run for president in 1920 and today, the Soviet Union collapsed in large measure because its socialist economy couldn’t keep up with the West, and its satellite socialist countries all morphed into something resembling capitalism. China became first socialist via the Chinese revolution and then veered toward capitalism when socialism finally starved enough Chinese people that the Communist Party couldn’t help but reform. Socialism, at least the hardcore variety of it practiced in the Soviet bloc and today in North Korea and Venezuela has largely been discredited as a useful economic system.

The other thing that happened between Debs and today is that Bernie Sanders in 1988, then mayor of Burlington, Vermont, spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union, praising housing affordability and badmouthing American foreign policy, which at the time was largely aimed at containing and besting the country in which he spoke. Sanders is the real deal – a socialist who even calls himself that.

Which brings us back to Deschutes County. Registration has trended Democrat for years, fueled by in-migration from left-leaning places like Portland, Seattle and California and more recently due to the relative unpopularity of Donald Trump here. If the Democrats nominate Sanders, whose self-professed ideology plants him well outside the ideological mainstream of most Americans, they run the risk of alienating more moderate voters who have found a home in the party recently. Some voters will never again vote Republican because that party nominated Donald Trump; Sanders is an extreme enough character that he may similarly drive voters away from a Democratic Party that formally embraces socialism.

(And for those who would point out that Trump is also outside the mainstream, you’re right that he is in demeanor and, um, approach. Part of my point is that the Democrats might nominate someone who may repel some voters, kind of like Trump has.)

Et cetera:  I wonder if you could do me a favor and take this one-minute (seriously, one minute) survey about the Bend Business Roundup. It’s anonymous and really easy. Having assaulted in-boxes with this thing for a few years now, I want to make sure I’m giving you all what you want and need! I greatly appreciate the input.

Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

Have a great weekend!

Jeff started EagerLaw PC to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed in business. Jeff worked in Washington, D.C. for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, served as Mayor of the City of Bend, and has been practicing law in Oregon for over a decade. Jeff believes strongly in entrepreneurship and enjoys making the legal side of business transparent and easy for his clients.

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