The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I am a 30 year old male and director of a non-profit organization that provides services to recovering alcohol and drug addicts. I am a volunteer for a gambling addiction group, an African American recovery club, and a board member of a youth recovery club. I work 40 hours a week, volunteer 10 hours a week and make $40,000 a year. My work focuses on the greater good of the public, and I am passionate about recovery, so I sacrifice higher pay for public service. I have student loan debt, car payments, insurance payments and my partner is a stay at home mom to our baby boy. I live in an amazing location near downtown Portland. My best friend owns our house, and charges a modest $1500 for rent and utilities. In an effort to afford where I live, I transformed one of my upstairs bedrooms into an Airbnb room. I rent the room for $65 a night, and the room averages $1800 a month - just enough to pay my rent and cover the 1099 taxes incurred. I also drive my car through a service called Uber on the weekends, and put all money earned in savings for my kids college. My life is the new American dream. Historically, the dream was to begin from scratch, start a business, build a family and amass a fortune. Not today. Today, the American dream is to sustain, and that's what I am doing. Entrepreneurs like Brian Chesky and Travis Kalanick, founders of Airbnb and Uber, had this same realization. It doesn't take an economist to realize the issues my generation is facing. Instead, it takes ordinary people, like these gentleman, asking the questions "Why can't I offer a better service for cheaper?" Airbnb is capitalism at it's finest, and capitalism is what makes an economy thrive. In a British epidemiological study spanning more than 10 years, scientists discovered that when female beetles are given multiple male partners to choose from, the gene pool and population becomes stronger and healthy, while female beetles with only 1 partner to choose from yield weaker populations, and all participants of the single beetle group died out within 10 generations. The same is true with business, whether it's Airbnb and Hotels, AT&T and MCI, or Microsoft & Apple... competition creates innovation and and a superior product. My Airbnb room is 300 sq feet, located 1 block from some of Portland's trendiest places. My guest are welcomed with a refrigerator stocked with water, soda and juice, a Keurig coffee makes with multiple kinds of coffee, a kitchen area to prepare food, silverware and a dish set, a sewing kit, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, umbrella, DVD player and movies, DirecTV, Google Chrome Cast and so much more, all for $65 a night. I frequently ask my guest, "What brings you to Portland?" and they often respond "Airbnb." The majority of my guests admit that their vacation would never have happened if Airbnb wasn't an option, as they simply couldn't afford a hotel, and wanted to stay in an area, like mine, that has no hotels. My guests vacation more frequent, longer, and have a better experience because of Airbnb. I give my overseas guests tours on foot, in car, show them the best places to eat and see, and give them a true taste of my town and countries culture...an experience that cannot be replicated by a hotel. Airbnb is a local economy boosting tool, that provides working, tax paying citizens a means to generate passive income from sharing their home. I urge any legislation to look at the big picture of what Airbnb actually is.