Sharing is a fundamental concept. In fact it is a premise of our childhood. Could this concept really be taken to a new level and impact our economy? Arguably it is at the roots of economy itself. We have been providing goods that satisfy needs since the caveman era. “My rock for your club.”
The Rise of the Sharing Economy certainly has a nice ring to it. Its development has certainly been spurred by the decline in the economy. People get more creative as they try to save their pennies. It makes a lot of sense to share the goods we buy with others in order to save. This has been going on forever though, but mostly between family members and good friends and rarely at a cost.
I agree with the concept overall and certainly the podcast on To The Point does a great job of bringing in different sides to the story. I agreed with Derek and April that sharing is one of the world’s oldest behaviors and that there is so much idle inventory out there we can all benefit from sharing. I do have big concerns and doubts however.
Airbnb is a company that is making it possible for people to rent out there homes and apartments to others when they are going to be away. However the concept has been deemed illegal by New York and Airbnb was involved in a legal battle supporting one of its customers. The article states that “the whole point of production is consumption and we should only take into account the interests of the producer where it is necessary to do so in the interests of the consumer…So, using Smith’s point we might say that the interests of consumers are advanced by the work that Airbnb is doing. At which point of course we’ve got to ask why it’s illegal. To which the answer seems to be no particular reason at all except that’s just not the way it has been done up until now…The final point being that the illegality isn’t really Airbnb’s problem. It’s really a problem for New Yorkers for they are being denied the opportunity to use the services being offered.”
The number of legal issues that will arise from this concept are going to be astounding. AS technology races forward and as our government continues to look back at historical precedents to make decisions, policy vacuums are going to be created and the answers to the questions about illegality and responsibility simply wont exist.
I would be anxious to participate in the sharing economy’s newer ideas like Milo talks about in the podcast. There are so many dangers out there and although people should have a certain level of trust for one another, and like Anna says, capitalism couldn’t function with some trust, it is scary in this day and age to let a stranger stay in your home. Personal space is too personal for me to be comfortable sharing, however I think ZipCar is a phenomenal cost saving idea.
But on top of personal fears I fear for the impact on the non-sharing economy. If people consume less, producers need to produce less to meet demand and that ultimately leads to job loss and could hurt the economy too much. If EVERYONE tried sharing, we could all consume less, but that seems impossible. And we can’t reduce our cost of living, decline our need for the dollar and reduce what we purchase because we have created the consumer economy and taking steps backward are going to negatively impact us no matter how we do it. This is a problem the whole country will need to get on board with and plan for the effects if we want to make change in my opinion.
- Airbnb scores a victory in making it legal to rent out your NYC apartment (venturebeat.com)
- NYC Reverses Illegal Hotel Fine Leveled Against Airbnb Host (consumerist.com)