When I came to Bucknell as a freshman, I had no car. As the constant struggle to get into fraternity parties on the weekends proved fruitless, my friends and I quickly grew bored. One day, as we walked past the LC, we saw the Zipcars parked outside. Having not heard of them before, we quickly did our research and found out that a quick subscription and small payment was all that was needed to have the freedom to drive. My friends and I shared the car—going to movies, out to dinner, and visiting friends at other colleges. My freshman year would have been vastly different without it, and without collaborative consumption.
This podcast about the sharing, or peer-to-peer, economy was extremely insightful. Quite frankly, I do not know how anyone can argue against a concept like this. Our country is filled with idle inventory—cars sit in driveways, and houses sit unoccupied. Meanwhile, millions of Americans cannot afford either of these necessities. The sharing economy allows those who have these resources to make some financial gain by sharing them with others, while those who do not have the privilege to own a car or bike can rent one for a smaller price. The opponents of the sharing economy that are featured in the podcast argue, “property rights are the basis of our society. What you own says a lot about you”. So what? People can own an Audi and a really nice house. That says that they are wealthy and high status individuals. If these wealthy individuals want to rent out their property to make some extra money, does that detract from their self-worth? Of course not.
An article from The Economist about collaborative consumption writes: “peer-to-peer rental schemes provide handy extra income for owners and can be less costly and more convenient for borrowers. Occasional renting is cheaper than buying something outright or renting from a traditional provider such as a hotel or car-rental firm.” The theme of ‘cheaper’ comes up a few times in these sentences, and is echoed throughout the podcast. Why is collaborative consumption catching on now? America is going through a terrible recession. (Maybe one that may even get more terrible as the government shuts down today.) As the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest reaches heights unparalleled worldwide, businesses strive to appeal to the demands of the lower classes. One easy and effective way to do this involves what we all learned to do in preschool: sharing.