The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
The sharing economy has had positive effects in my life. In October of 2013 my husband and I began spending our weekends in Joshua Tree, CA. We were tech workers in Los Angeles and after decades in our field were feeling burned out and wanted a little peace and quiet. After spending weekends in Joshua Tree for several months, at local hotels, we decided to try an AirBNB rental. We chose one near where we hoped to buy a cabin, and in the same style. About six months later we bought our own cabin and remained friends with the people whose house we first stayed in. They introduced us to lots of people in the community, making our relocation that much easier. We could not have done that at the Marriott. The people we AirBNBed with rehab old busted cabins - ones that no one can live in - 200 - 400 square feet and make them into vacation rentals. It makes the entire area nicer and safer and has helped build a strong community. I also use Lyft when I'm in Los Angeles. It's changed my life. Lyft is much quicker than taxis, and cheaper, and will make the quick little trips that taxis don't like. I don't need to have any cash on me, or call a dispatcher. The Lyft pulls up, I get in, it stops, I get out. It could not be easier. People denigrate the sharing economy but here's the benefit - it lowers the cost of entry and little people are able to have small businesses that they run in their spare time. Students, mothers, low-wage workers - people who often get the short end of the stick economically, are able to earn extra money legally. Drugs and stripping aren't the only part-time occupations left to struggling students. I know some people are abusing it, but with no other safety net for the poor, the sharing economy is a lifesaver. Some people complain that it's not "sharing," it's "selling." You don't hear them complaining about the unfair advantages in capitalism now, do you? They just haven't figured out how to put themselves in the middle of it yet and take their unearned cut. It's not "sharing" because it's not "sharing" with them. Please keep government hands off the sharing economy. Let us poor folk enjoy life a little, too.