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I'm confused about this entire situation. If I own a company in the US then it's my right to not hire from someone else's company if I so choose, yes? And in the case of tech giants then there is a lot of proprietary tech knowledge that can exist in an engineer's brain that may make him or her a very strategic hire for my competition. So, if I'm paying an engineer $100K and Google sees fit to hire them away for $200K then, sure, it's in the engineer's interest to tell me because then I would need to offer $250K to keep them. And this isn't because they have suddenly become more valuable, or because the engineer has suddenly developed new skills, it's simply a game of strategy and money that could potentially hurt both businesses. So, it makes sense to me that companies would agree to skip the drama, and just agree not to poach talent from each other. And, honestly, how many Apple designers, Google engineers, or EBay executives have gone hungry because of these non-compete agreements? When you're playing in that league then you are already extremely well compensated. So, is it simply a matter if principal? Why exactly is it illegal? These are honest questions.

It's illegal for the same reason that it's illegal for companies to collude to fix prices. You could apply your same arguments.

I guess so. But also it doesn't seem that companies are artificially keeping wages low. I mean if an engineer at a tech company isn't happy with his salary then he wouldn't have taken it in the first place, right? It's not the same as a person taking a job at a grocery store because they simply don't have other options. Top talent gets head hunted all the time. So if they want a better salary couldn't they just go somewhere else that pays it, as long as it's not a company that's part of the agreement?

Not necessarily. Keep in mind that the wages at the big tech companies affect wages at other firms. If the big techs drive down wages, then wages will go down at the smaller firms as well.

Ah yeah that's a good point. And I guess it's in the big tech's interests to keep smaller companies under staffed.

Exactly the same argument, and exactly the same rebuttal applies to price fixing.

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