The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
As an Airbnb host, and guest, I appreciate the democratic opportunity to share my thoughts as a voting citizen. Institutions such as Airbnb accomplish the very best of what American society is and can be; friendly, helpful, open, honest and even a little bit entrepreneurial at the same time. Just as had been true when societies worked more on a barter-style system, allowing people who have something that they can share or trade with others is what AirBnB (and similar Internet-based companies) helps aid for the benefit of all parties involved. As you may be aware whether on a low fixed income, or even comfortably middle-class, being able to share space in our home with others for a nominal amount of money has allowed us to stay just slightly ahead of home payments and reinvest money into our community. Many small home improvements that were necessary for the longevity of our dwelling have become possible thanks to our use of AirBnB. The products and services are paid for locally from the money we have earned as hosts. Our guests naturally also add to the local economy as they visit. Naturally we pay taxes on the extra income, so we are assisting society at large at the same time. Beyond monetary benefits, there's also great cultural advantages which are present in these friendly transactions. People are less isolated when they sharing space, and the free flowing of ideas and culture result from these arrangements. Just as American's had once been apt to help strangers, there's a larger sense of community which is formed by such arrangements. In many ways, organizations such as Airbnb are allowing the Internet to live up to its fuller humanitarian potential; connecting people who have surplus with people who have needs utilizing a fair market trade to satisfy both. Just as you might allow a a friend of a friend the opportunity to stay at your home because they are passing through, or need a place to stay, Airbnb is the middle-man "friend" who connects two parties, and there is a financial gain for all involved. The guest has a place to stay at a price they feel they can afford, the host receives a modest payment, and Airbnb takes a cut for having facilitated. ...and the government receives taxes on the income as well. For us this system works quite well and has, to the best of our observations, had only beneficial effect for all involved, the local economy and the nation as a whole. We believe that democratizing a balance between want and surplus to a larger sphere of people is what these services such as Airbnb does and it should be allowed to continue as it currently stands for the various reasons I have outlined. Thank you.