The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00837

Submission Number:
Victoria Byers
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
The American Dream has gone off the rails. Regular Americans have become all too aware that their elected representatives are representative of a moneyed class and the interests of that minority. The constellation of events set in motion by our leadership resulted in outsourcing of our good-paying manufacturing jobs to nations with a much lower cost of living, producing a short-term benefit for CEOs and stockholders. They, who no longer require a paycheck, but live off their dividends, acquired or inherited wealth. Such policies enriched the developing middle class of nations like China and India, at the expense of our own middle class. Likewise, the endless wars we are unwilling to extricate ourselves from have resulted in no investment in our own infrastructure in 20+ years. No job development, no investment in developing technologies, just the same genuflecting to fossil fuels, corporate greed and the military. Out of the endless darkness of the past 15 years we now have Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, et. al. to the rescue! Washington looks askance at these developing new business models. "Should we do something to stop them?" you collectively wonder. The answer is a resounding "NO"! The "sharing economy" is a new paradigm, and one that is required for these times of extreme hopelessness, joblessness, and government atrophy. Washington is mired in partisan bickering, unwilling to legislate to any effective end, other than to cater to the desires of the rich. We have a generation of disenfranchised workers without work. Educated citizens with no outlet for gainful employment. A government that doesn't care about the constituents who elected it. Let's talk about my Airbnb experience specifically. I'm a homeowner, a 55-year-old mom, and I live in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive cities in the USA, specifically in Silver Lake, where I was born. We bought our home in the 90s, when it was in the low $200,000s. Today I owe $350,000 on our modest home, after my now-deceased ex took out a second mortgage to re-marry. Altho I got title to our home in probate, The LA County Assessors Office decided to reassess me "escape fees" back to date-of-death, altho We Were Current on taxes, we got a new bill for another $15,000. Creative! But wait, there's more! I'm an independent filmmaker, and am self-financing a rock musical about Mary Magdalene, in 3 feature-length parts. How does a middle-aged woman with no Hollywood connections get a leg up and complete not 1 but 3 films? I'm renting out my spare bedrooms on Airbnb. I live here, full-time, and host travelers. [REDACTED] Am I unique in my story? Probably not. I'm one of millions, struggling through. So far our mortgage is current, thanks to my partner's job with the airlines and regular paycheck. Our Airbnb income pays bills, provides food, and the occasional production day, and funds our editors. So, I'm a job creator too! My neighborhood in Silver Lake has always enjoyed a certain cachet attached to the artist-residents here who are a lot like me. We need a sharing economy to survive, and local businesses benefit from the tourism bucks. So please Don't legislate away of our new sharing economy. Are you prepared to do something better to balance the scales in our direction? We needed something to come along and change the game, offer tangible solutions to those thousands with very real and immediate concerns, like survival. Legislate for the rest of us. Make some positive contributions while you are in office. Remember we elected you to show compassion for the regular people who don't come from a country club, Ivy League universe. We are the Real America you are in Washington to represent. Protect us from harm, and serve us well. Elected office is fraught with responsibility. Please use your time in office to make valuable change in these difficult and desperate economic times. Thank you, V. Byers