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Welcome To the 'Sharing Economy'

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the sharing-is-monetarily-equivalent-to-caring dept.

Technology 153

An anonymous reader writes "Thomas Friedman writes in the NY Times about the economy that's grown around Airbnb, a company built on helping people rent out their unused rooms to other users. He writes, 'Airbnb has also spawned its own ecosystem — ordinary people who will now come clean your home, coordinate key exchanges, cook dinner for you and your guests, photograph rooms for rent, and through the ride-sharing business Lyft, turn their cars into taxis to drive you around. "It used to be that corporations and brands had all the trust," added [CEO Brian Chesky], but now a total stranger, "can be trusted like a company and provide the services of a company. And once you unlock that idea, it is so much bigger than homes. ... There is a whole generation of people that don't want everything mass produced. They want things that are unique and personal."' Friedman refers to this as the 'sharing economy,' but a 'trust economy' seems more apt. He points this out himself: 'Afterward, guests and hosts rate each other online, so there is a huge incentive to deliver a good experience because a series of bad reputational reviews and you're done. Airbnb also automatically provides $1 million in insurance against damage or theft to nearly all of its hosts (some countries have restrictions) and only rarely gets claims. This framework of trust has unlocked huge value from unused bedrooms.'"

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lasting awesomeness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340877)

sounds neat, but I wonder if its gonna last...
corporations will finnd a way to get rid of them, or the system will itself sink in a swamp of administration

Re:lasting awesomeness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340907)

Seems more like an apartment renting service than bedroom sharing, most places in NY are 100$+ per night. More like the hipsters' version of couchsurfing, where you pay top buck to have a personalized 'cool' experience instead of simply crashing with some dudes for free.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44340919)

Trust relies on people being trustworthy. If people as a whole were trustworthy, corporations wouldn't exist.
It's the same reason why communes work only on a very small scale.
At some scale, diverging views of "fairnes" set in and people will stop cooperating without reserve.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (5, Insightful)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about a year ago | (#44341113)

The emergence of the corporation had virtually nothing to do with the trustworthiness of people. Your understanding of both the utility of the corporation and of human nature is fundamentally flawed.

And even if you get swell guys now (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#44341387)

As noted by Ancient Commenter Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2 [blueletterbible.org] :

16. Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
17. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

Re: lasting awesomeness? (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44341669)

Yes it was

A lot of the small businesses at the time were scam artists and had crappy products. Corporations made a somewhat better product with consistent quality

Sharing economy schmaring economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340921)

One purpose of airbnb is to find sex partners. You are kind of travelling and fucking as you go.

Just ask people who are heavy users. The couch gets used for other things thamn sleeping.

That's the payment right there, not exactly sharing.

Re:Sharing economy schmaring economy (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about a year ago | (#44341131)

With very few exceptions, people who want to fuck will find a willing partner by some means, and in my experience more often than not there will be no exchange of currency involved. How is the situation you've presented any different?

Re:Sharing economy schmaring economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341755)

Ridiculous statement right there, how about you show us a source for your wild claim? Don't anyone hold your breath, it is just a tactic to make Airbnb look bad in the eyes of soccer moms.

You don't work for or own a motel, hotel or BnB do you?

Re:lasting awesomeness? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340985)

Wouldn't last.... because Obama, fascist government and corporations will fight this tooth and nail because they are the only ones who they think people should "trust", despite having shown to be completely untrustworthy.
Besides Lyft, there's Sidecar [www.side.cr] where you can use your smartphone to hail a private car ride. Nice idea driver, but you got a permit to do that?

Re: lasting awesomeness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341339)

Obama?? Getting a bit desperate, are we?

Re: lasting awesomeness? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341445)

A bit desperate to fight for my rights, you bet! He doesn't care for the Constitution apparently.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44341079)

Nope. Not gonna last. How do you tax kindness? If I let my hairdresser use my car for her groceries in exchange for a haircut, no money changes hands and no taxes are paid.

That's not gonna last long.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (2)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year ago | (#44341255)

Wouldn't it be nice if we made our administrative system work around daily life, rather than the other way around?

Re:lasting awesomeness? (2)

gedw99 (1597337) | about a year ago | (#44341257)

bit coin is the same too. Te government has yet to shut it down. The banks are starting to try by disallowing exchanges of bit coin to real money n the exchanges. But in france a large bank has issues a visa cad that is linked to your bit coin account. So its hard to say which way it will all go.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341395)

It's not so hard. As BTC becomes more mainstream, entrepreneurs will make it as easy to use at points of sale as credit card transactions, and just as anonymous. Governments will monitor and surveil the experiment accordingly, easily done because money transmitters et.al. falling under anti-money laundering laws and Know Your Customer laws.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (2, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#44341769)

The state has no use for money if you think about it a bit longer. The reason the state has to take money as payment for tax, is to pay wages to other people performing work for the state. You could cut out the money middleman and take labor as payment directly.

Instead of paying a set percentage of your wages as tax, you could be required to clock a certain amount of hours in your field of expertise for the community. Of course, that would mean that the rich fat cats get off their arse and work (since fleecing people isn't a workable skill in that system), so in that sense it is a doomed idea. It illustrates an alternative nonetheless, and requires a change of mindset about how we work together.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (2)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44342045)

Instead of paying a set percentage of your wages as tax, you could be required to clock a certain amount of hours in your field of expertise for the community.

Yeah. That's going to get roads built and maintained. This money thing may seem evil if you don't have a lot of it, but there is a reason that it has lasted for millennia. It's a damn good system compared to a barter economy, and paying taxes beats feudal serfdom any day of the week. But hey, some modern humans like living in the past to the point of taking nutrition tips from people that had an average lifespan of 30 miserable years [wikipedia.org] so schemes like this will pop up and quickly fall apart for years to come.

Re:lasting awesomeness? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44341459)

more like when these kids grow up they will go back to big business

if i'm taking my family on vacation to florida i might as well stay in a hotel. airbnb means i need to rent a car, pay parking, risk a hotel room if my flight is late and the owner can't make it at a later time to give me the keys, etc. you're not really saving much money

Collaborative economy (2)

Simon Schneebeli (2844479) | about a year ago | (#44340883)

Garden sharing is another great thing. I wish something like this existed here. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/sep/02/garden-sharing-growing-vegetables [guardian.co.uk] . And here is a TEDx talk about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya6zndBObHY [youtube.com]

Re:Collaborative economy (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44340887)

I really wish more of this stuff (like Task Rabbit and Uber) would come to Denver. Since I've moved out here, I've missed the closeness of everything that you have in the Bay Area and the fantastic public transit of Portland. My hours are inverse of the normal human being, which means there are a ton of things that I couldn't do even if I wanted to. For example, my neighbors wouldn't be too happy if I mowed my lawn at 2:00am on a Saturday morning and it is hard to get groceries at 3:30AM on a Sunday morning. Not to mention just regular errands. Picking things up, grabbing lunch, delivering paperwork across town.

Unfortunately, nothing in Denver, yet.

Of course, there are still a lot of concerns you have to deal with. Insurance, bonding, claims, etc are not quite so clear cut or simple. More, plenty of municipalities don't appreciate having the middle-men taken out of this process and have been impeding people connecting online to perform work that the city wants to control/license/lease/regulate.

If you're going to read that, read this as well (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340895)

The Locust Economy [ribbonfarm.com]

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44341081)

Hey, why should only hedgefonds get all the fun of ruining the hard working businessman?

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (1)

HuguesT (84078) | about a year ago | (#44341091)

Poorly constructed, but very insightful article. Thanks for the link!

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (4, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#44341223)

So... I'm very far from what you'd call an unrepentent capitalist (by US standards I probably count as communist-light). But the thrust of his argument seems to be (correct me if I get it wrong):

* Consumers are much better informed and able to find the best combination of price and value than before;

* That hurts providers that are neither able to offer lower prices or better value. Or, in other words, those providers that previously managed to stay afloat only because their customers were poorly informed.

And from a consumer point of view, I have a hard time seeing what is immoral about that.

If I today have the choice of a chain coffee house with so-so cofee but good prices and generous laptop policies on one hand, and a gourmet shop run by an enthusiast with fifteen kinds of blow-your-mind taste sensation coffees on the other; why would I go to the old coffee shop in between where neither the coffee, service or price is anything special?

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341377)

The problem is that the "better" offers are unsustainable, hence the locust analogy: The swarm must and does move on as soon as the prices are raised to a sustainable level, leaving both the desperate business owner who offered a discount to get customers and the business owner who didn't without sustainable income. Many "sharing economy" businesses are merely hobbies, without the assurances and sustainability of a real business. By entering a market with these shortcomings, they harm themselves and the small scale businesses they're competing with, while the megacorporations can both ride it out or compete by offering a better product that can't be delivered on a small scale.

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (2)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about a year ago | (#44341861)

When it comes to things like groupon, yes. Racing prices to the bottom is bad for any sort of market or enterprise. Well, not to the bottom - in this case, past the bottom, in the hopes of converting into regular customers people who are very keen on pursuing advantageous offers, which is a hard proposal. However, when he gets to comparing things like airbnb to being locusts, that's where he makes the very weird mistake of thinking we shouldn't get rid of things we don't need anymore because that would be change. Yes, airbnb, home production and local, smaller trading economies can impact negatively lots of companies that can't compete on cost because of their overhead. However, if they do, that's because those costs are demonstrably unneeded, at least in their current levels, and we have transitioned accordingly, to a more efficient and diversified market (or non-market). Economic growth isn't infinitely sustainable anyway. It will either halt or plummet eventually and there are still people clamoring for us to do everything we can to make more money flow around faster, for no real benefit.

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342011)

IMHO the costs are not unneeded at all, and many people who enter these "sharing economies" thinking they're getting a bargain, on both sides of the equation, slowly realize that they're working for a slave wage due to the lack of economies of scale or paying only a little less for much less planability, safety, service and comfort. As more people realize this, the boom will eventually turn into a bust and the swarm will move on. In the meantime it has destroyed the livelihood of the actual business owners who did things by the book and provided all that is expected and required of a business. The price of a coffee in a small shop may seem outrageous, especially when you compare it to homebrew, but many of the small shops hardly get by financially even with those prices. If you've ever run a business or looked over the shoulders of someone who runs a business, you realize how many costs are involved and how inevitable those costs are, if you're in it for the long run. "Sharing economies" can only undercut proper businesses because they exploit a replenishing supply of people who have yet to learn the responsibilities and costs of doing business. Most people have no business experience after all.

Re:If you're going to read that, read this as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342303)

So, if you sell stuff below cost, as a loss leader to attract customers, it's a high-risk strategy. It always has been. So now, if you do it, you could lose a lot of money to "locusts." Great. SO DON"T GODDAMN SELL STUFF BELOW COST! And then, when you've learned this lesson, you will no longer fear locusts and will have nothing to whine about.

Also, the bit about "Jeffersonian middle-class has it so hard" is pretty preposterous. Even if you are one of them, and losing money and going out of business and becoming a peasant, you are still better off by far than the people who are already peasants. Just so much whining and sense of entitlement!

Light on Sharing Economy, heavy on website advert (0)

Hadlock (143607) | about a year ago | (#44340897)

Uh, this would be interesting if they'd linked to an article on the sharing economy, instead we were linked to a single page advertisement in the form of a NYTimes article.
 
Anyone care to link to a real article with a little more breadth?

Re:Light on Sharing Economy, heavy on website adve (2)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about a year ago | (#44340913)

Anyone care to link to a real article with a little more breadth?

Depth? Thomas Friedman?

Re:Light on Sharing Economy, heavy on website adve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341041)

Try the Paul Krugman NYT articles, although they're more height than breadth, as in: High Times at the New York Times!

Commercial activities on domestic levels (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#44340909)

And with all these people offering professional services, how many have qualifications or insurance? Say you use someone who offers lifts (to the airport, as an example). What happens if they have a collision - their insurance won't cover them for commercial use (terms and conditions may be different in your country, where ever that is). What happens if the person who's committed to cooking for your guests gives them all food poisoning?

Trust is nice, and touchy-feely and new-world 'n' all. Though indemnity is better - but it costs.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340951)

If you read TFA (I know, I know) you'd see that insurance is included in the Airbnb service.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341129)

Alternatively, he could read TFS.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (5, Insightful)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | about a year ago | (#44341053)

At some point you have to stop living in fear.
Stuff can go wrong - that's life. The correct thing to do is to go on with life, not find someone to blame so you can sue them. Somewhere this simple concept has been lost on a great too many.

preposterous! (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44341157)

What a preposterous idea you have there. How will all the business insurance companies and lawyers make their living if we just go on dealing with losses that we can easily overcome?

Re: preposterous! (0)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44341203)

So if you are in a car with a lyft driver who blows through a stop sign, crashes and you get hurt requiring weeks in the hospital and lots of money lost from not being able to work its ok?

What if you have lasting health issues? It's ok dude, don't do it again

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341187)

Fear is what keeps you living. Stop living in fear means you stop living.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341213)

At some point you have to stop living in fear.

Fear is not the problem. Sociopaths gaming the system are the problem. Without indemnities for bad behavior there are perverse incentives.

Stuff can go wrong - that's life.

True.

The correct thing to do is to go on with life, not find someone to blame so you can sue them. Somewhere this simple concept has been lost on a great too many.

No, wearing an injury means that somebody benefits - they have an incentive to do it again and again. Something like this can work but there needs to be structure in place to deal with the percentage of society who are sociopaths.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (1)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#44341151)

We must have a risk-free society. We simply cannot survive any other way.

You must always be suspicious of your neighbors. Because they might be up to something. /s

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341235)

Trust is the foundation of productive economy exchange. Doing business in good faith makes it plausible to have specialization and all of the associated benefits. The upward trend of contractualism and legalese, of spin replacing reputation, is symptomatic of the erosion of that trust -- and is a harbinger of decline in productive economic activity. The participants in this program are trying to reclaim that faith, now that it has been cast aside by "big business".

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#44341481)

Doing business in good faith makes it plausible to have specialization and all of the associated benefits

Absolutely right. And if everyone who offered these services was honest, capable and fair then there would be no problem. However what *always* starts out as a small, local initiative to "help" starts to attract the hucksters, criminal element and incompetents just out for a buck.

So the guy who offers a Lyft - or some other local version for unofficial rides or car-shares ... when the operation is new he/she will probably be motivated as much by community spirit (and putting professional, licensed taxis out of business by undercutting them) as by any money that comes in. However that transforms into people who need the money and are less likely to have well maintained vehicles, possibly have a string of driving convictions and maybe a gun under the seat. How could you, as a customer, tell the good from the potentially bad? And would you let your teenage daughter take or give lifts with complete strangers?

Same with the strangers offering catering services. Will they be restaurant trained, or will they use the same cutting board for raw meat as for finger-snacks? If you ask for kosher, can you be *sure* that's what you'll get? Is that fish fresh, or have they been trying to offload it onto a customer for the last week?

In short, while trust is a good attribute, it's also invisible. You can't tell whether the trust you place in someone you don't know is being returned in care, safety and getting what you've asked for. Sadly when trust fails, regulation is the only alternative.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341319)

The odds of being in a car accident because the driver is not a "professional" driver do not suddenly become 1:1. If in the majority of cases people are getting to the airport without incident using a random ride share driver, then the license and insurance costs are simply a waste of money.

Re:Commercial activities on domestic levels (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about a year ago | (#44342237)

Insurance is always a waste of money until it is.. well.. not

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340923)

That's actually a really good idea.

CEO Brian Chesky may be tapping into widespread anti-corporate sentiment, or he may really believe in the universality of the the concept of trust. Either way, I hope his company flourishes.

Sadly (1)

dnaumov (453672) | about a year ago | (#44340925)

the idea is dead on arrival in my country (Finland) due to the amount of paperwork one would be legally obliged to do and the fact that "obviously" you need to pay taxes on all of this.

Re:Sadly (2)

jemmyw (624065) | about a year ago | (#44340969)

Maybe it'll encourage governments to develop saner tax rules.

I encountered something similar with Timebank in NZ - I cannot give my time if I'd be doing anything related to my job. You can see the point of view of the taxman here (it'd be equivalent to cash in hand), but it is insane.

Re:Sadly (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#44341033)

Maybe it'll encourage governments to develop saner tax rules

The tax rules are quite sane: you get income, you pay tax. Also most countries have rules & regs about letting out property that are designed to protect the renter. Such as requiring basic safety checks on appliances, making sure there are adequate escape routes in case of fire.

Re:Sadly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341291)

Oh come on, that's a bit over simplifying things. Just because the premise is "sane" doesn't mean the process is.

Re:Sadly (1)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#44341243)

Well, given that you have an income tax in the first place, why would you not pay income on something that is, well, income?

What !???!!?? (5, Funny)

BlindRobin (768267) | about a year ago | (#44340949)

Someone actually reads Thomas Friedman as not satire? I thought the NYT just put him in for comic relief.

Re:What !???!!?? (2)

coldsalmon (946941) | about a year ago | (#44341863)

Friedman is the reason I stopped reading the NYT. His articles improve if you add the words "It seems like..." to the beginnig of every sentence, and the words "but if you think about it for 5 seconds, you'll realize that things are much more complicated than that" to the end of every sentence. For example: "It seems like ordinary people can now be micro-entrepreneurs, but if you think about it for 5 seconds, you'll realize that things are much more complicated than that."

Thomas Friedman (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340963)

Proof that no matter how wrong you are about basically everything, no one will ever call you out if you stay on message.
Honestly, this guy is a complete fucking idiot, and a kept man married to an exceedingly wealthy wife. He has a history of idiotic pronouncements and bizarre triumphalist declarations that only resonate with those with no connection to reality.

Re:Thomas Friedman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341011)

Sort of like anything to do with space and Elon Musk or 3D printing.

Re:Thomas Friedman (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#44341215)

I wish I had mod points to mod you up. Thomas Friedman will say something is bad one day and that it is good the next with the only difference being that on the "bad" day it was done by someone he politically opposes and on the "good" day it was done by someone he politically supports.

this is not sharing. (3, Funny)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#44340995)

early on, we teach children to share. sharing does not mean, "yeah, you can have the ball but it's going to cost you" which is _exactly_ what this is. this is renting. it's even been made this into a business and they call these "sharing" places, hotels and motels.

sharing is communism. your children are communists.

Re:this is not sharing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341007)

since most of what your children are sharing with each other are provided by the parents i'd say they're more socialist.

Re:this is not sharing. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44341097)

Hmm... sharing with their buddies which they got as handouts while at the same time crying and whining every time someone tries to take something from them who they don't consider part of their peers sounds more like they're prepping for a banker career.

Re:this is not sharing. You are right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341031)

You are right! The children *are* communists. Which is why no child likes to share his toys. (at least boys, dunno about girls).

Re:this is not sharing. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44341039)

When its voluntary and mutually beneficial, its free enterprise.
When its voluntary but not mutually beneficial, its (idealized) communism.

When its involuntary, regardless of how many benefit, its slavery.

Re:this is not sharing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341067)

*derp*

Re:this is not sharing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341093)

When its(sic) involuntary, regardless of how many benefit, its(sic) slavery (in real-world practice among countries)
FTFY

Re:this is not sharing. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44341105)

And when it's involuntary and only beneficial to a select few it's ... what do we call our system today? I know it ain't capitalism anymore.

Re:this is not sharing. (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#44341173)

And when it's involuntary and only beneficial to a select few it's ... what do we call our system today? I know it ain't capitalism anymore.

Aristocracy

Re:this is not sharing. (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44341561)

Plutocracy [wikipedia.org] seems more apt. But since it's becoming more and more impossible to break the barriers between rich and poor and being rich is more and more dependent on whether you're born in the "right" family, the actual difference is minimal.

Re:this is not sharing. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341247)

Crony Capitalism, a bastardized form of capitalism that's not really recognizable as a form of capitalism which the US has today. It more and more favors the oligarchy, who in the US are individuals at the highest levels of government, large corporations, and banks. They'd prefer to maintain their power, and forever shearing the sheep for all they're worth.

Re:this is not sharing. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#44341573)

Personally, I'd say it's a Plutocracy with less and less inhibitions to drop the pretense that it's not a Kleptocracy.

Re:this is not sharing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341189)

sharing is communism. your children are communists.

I take it you're an American.

Re:this is not sharing. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44341345)

What a stupid non-sequitur. Children have never studied Marx.

It's not communism unless it's enforced at gunpoint.

Re:this is not sharing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341385)

sharing is communism. your children are communists.

It would be great if for once people had actual logical arguments about the issues instead of picking labels and our champion thinker of 100+ years ago. Arguing by labels is just being too lazy to think it through for yourself. Maybe your great thinker was Garfield the cat. In which case, the only thing I have to say to you is that tomorrow is Monday.

Unreported employment (4, Interesting)

lorinc (2470890) | about a year ago | (#44341057)

Isn't this like unreported employment, where workers have no rights and the state gets nothing (for maintaining the infrastructures used). I know /. is US-centric and my little European country seems communist to most of you (I'm from France). But seriously unreported employment is a bad idea, although it might look better than unenployment. Firstly, it's a downhill to slavery, like the world was before the introduction of labour laws. And secondly, it's not sharing at all because there is no collectivity in such shemes. It's everyone is on its own without any place for a collective structure, which is obviously not the way humankind has eveloved for the last couple of thousands of years.

These deregulated systems are utopias that only work if people are equally smart and potent, which will definitely never be the case.

Re:Unreported employment (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341149)

I would hardly describe the system as "employment". That's like saying I'm employed by Ebay because I occasionally use it to sell things I don't need.

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341515)

People go to Ebay to buy stuff. They don't go to your Ebay-shop. When you sell through Ebay, you promote Ebay's brand, not your own. It is indeed a hidden form of employment.

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341699)

Except I can sell things on Ebay entirely on my own terms - I get the vast majority of any money made from selling an item. I can sell on a number of different auction websites if I choose to do so. Or I can advertise in one of several free classified ads newspapers in my area.

How does this bear any serious comparison to actual employment? I don't want to promote my own brand, I just want to sell things with the minimum inconvenience. If I was selling my item at a brick and mortar auction house, would I still be promoting their brand, and doing "hidden employment" for them? Or would I merely be one of the parties in a mutually beneficial transaction that I entered into entirely by choice?

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341793)

Amazon with their shop hosting, Ebay with their "auction" site, Apple and Google with their "appstores", they all understand what it is they're doing. You don't. Perhaps you will understand when you try to sell something without relying on a megacorporation that dictates terms, take or leave.

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342025)

You understand some big clever concept and I don't, is that it? Why don't you explain it to the rest of the class?

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342089)

Look, you lack the experience to truly understand it, and you refuse to understand it otherwise, so there's hardly a point in explaining it further. People like you are the feedstock of the professional middle-men, corporations that don't exist out of necessity but to keep the two ends of the equation apart so that they have to go through the middle-men. Everything these corporations do is designed to keep you away from your customers, to make them their customers and you their supplier. You do work for them, but you don't realize it. That's how they don't have to pay you. You even pay them.

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342411)

Interesting conspiracy theory you have going on there. Yes, no crap professional middle-men. I've sold perhaps 5 items in total on Ebay, it was easier than holding a garage sale and hoping that somebody would mysteriously turn up and buy my semi-valuable possession for somewhere close to market price.

You sound like the person lacking experience, with your ridiculous dogmatic notions trumping real-life concerns wherever you look. If you're so smart, tell me: How would you go about selling something reasonably valuable with a limited market? How would you avoid becoming "the feedstock of the professional middle-men" in the process? I can't wait.

Re:Unreported employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341155)

I agree with almost everything you said. However, all employment is a form of subservience to a master. I suppose you mean that it is potentially a less acceptable form because there is almost no reward involved. A better argument would have been that our current commercial system provides for the existence of small entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and technically avoid enslavement themselves by enslaving others to their will, and this is better by comparison. Though, ultimately everyone is a slave to the customer in either the share or corporate system. I think it's more important to find something you love to do and do it well, regardless who you're doing it for. Then you're always working for yourself, because it is something you care about. That's the closest anyone can really get to genuine freedom.

Re:Unreported employment (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44341357)

I can't speak for the US but at least here in Norway the distinction between personal activity (that doesn't have to pay taxes) and commercial activity comes down to scope and profitability, not organization. Everything from professional poker players to product pushing bloggers and prostitutes have had their activity deemed taxable with demands of back payment and penalty taxes. If you rent out your house once a year while you're away on summer vacation it'll fail the scope requirement, if you're just trying to make your own hobby tax deductible as a business expense you'll be denied, but if you turn a profit over time it's taxable income.

As for having no rights, well you're also the boss of your own individual business. Employee rights are there to protect workers from the boss, they don't work very well when you are the boss. Either way what you do or don't do will come straight out of your own paycheck, that's just how it is running your own business.

Re:Unreported employment (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year ago | (#44341749)

It sometimes happens, in France too, that someone runs a "micro-business" (i.e. no employee, there's only the business owner) and ends up depending on a single, big, crucial "client".. working on the client's premises, etc.
Needless to say, the "independant", "self owned business" guy is fucked. You end up with all the duties of an employee and none of the rights.

The "self employed" guy simply has no bargaining power whatsoever, if he's just getting by and struggling to support himself, or herself.
Of course this all depends on the kind of work done and on each particular situation. Some cases are egregious and an "entrepreneur" who is actually a disguised employee (with employee-like, subordination constraints on the contract that links him to his "client") can get this all overturned by a judge and become an actual employee, at least in theory.

here too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341777)

I'm from Europe, and France looks communist from here too.

The NY Times experience! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341061)

http://s7.postimg.org/rqohe22ix/the_nyt_experience.png [postimg.org]

As an analogy to paywall, I coin this privacywall.

THIS IS NOT SHARING (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341101)

Please stop using this stupid buzz word/phrase "Sharing Economy" because it is NOT sharing.

Sharing is when you give something to someone else for free.

This concept, or people leasing/renting short terms places in their house for money is simply that: ad-hoc amateur renting.

There's a slight problem with your contract (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44341135)

Most rental contracts I've seen specifically prevent you from sub-letting your apartment. Minor detail.

not if you own the property. (4, Insightful)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44341161)

If you own the property, it's usually not illegal. Mind you, a lot of cities are now in process or have already banned airbnb and similar services. They don't want residential areas become tourist infested, or they want to be able to tax the hell out of people making money with their properties.

Re:not if you own the property. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44341737)

Agreed if it's your property you can usually do what you want. Provided you're within the by-laws. And sometimes in condominiums the home-owner's association places a cap on how many units can be rented. I'm not sure how that would translate to sub-letting rooms. More work for the lawyers I guess. I'm really in the wrong business.

Re:There's a slight problem with your contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341165)

Well, that's that then.Airbnb might as well shut up shop today. Wait a minute .....

Most rental contracts I've seen allow you to sub-let your apartment. My anecdote cancels out your anecdote. Stalemate.

Re:There's a slight problem with your contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341311)

Not apartment, that stipulation in your contract specifically disallows anyone couchsurfing in your living room.

Re:There's a slight problem with your contract (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44341745)

Problem is, I've actually read lots of rental contracts whereas you're just making your anecdote up.

Re:There's a slight problem with your contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342061)

How do I know that you aren't making up anecdotes?

Also, how likely is it that there would be any consequences to breaking the terms of the contract? I have signed contracts that specified that I wasn't allowed to use pins or nails in the wall while renting an apartment, but nothing bad happened to me when I disobeyed.

If I have my girlfriend to stay over, is that breaking the contract? How does the landlord know if I'm charging her rent or not?

If the terms of the contract are impossible to enforce, then they're pretty meaningless.

Ok (1, Interesting)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#44341145)

It's a whole generation of people with no fucking job living in the same room.

The reason is because our government is forcing us to compete with manipulated currencies and our "employers" are lying cunts.

Brand names always win (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44341179)

We had something like this in the 1800's and earlier

Corporations won because they offer a consistent experience. I rent a home on airbnb in Orlando I have no idea what I'll get. I've read of horror stories of people renting out their homes to multiple guests at once. With Disney resorts I know what I get.

Ride sharing is too expensive unless done very rarely. Might as well buy a car.

The brands and corporations won almost 100 years ago because they give people a consistent experience and are somewhat helpful if there is a problem.

Taxing and regulation (4, Insightful)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44341181)

A lot of these kind of services are successful because people tend to stay under the radar of tax collecting agencies. Once the gubbament starts figuring out how to tax all this, most of these sort of initiatives die because it's no longer economically viable to a lot of the people offering services. The side effect is that often, because people have to make it their official business, they will need to get mandatory permits, licenses, diploma's and insurance as well. These and taxing often kill informal "small businesses" and kill the economy. We need a side economy, or a "liberal enough" legislation to allow initiatives like these to foster. Unfortunately, with the current fear and economic crisis, it's going to be hard to keep that from happening.

Yeah, airbnb is such a great company (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44341273)

Spam, harassing phone calls to sell their services. Yep, great non-corporate service. Please.

"Exchanging keys" (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year ago | (#44341289)

Come on Friedmann, key parties aren't new, they've been around since the 70s!

A company IS just a bunch of total strangers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341323)

" "It used to be that corporations and brands had all the trust," added [CEO Brian Chesky], but now a total stranger, "can be trusted like a company and provide the services of a company."
--
And the government too, d'uh!

Credit based slavery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44341795)

I am not an economist myself but I think the big news would be if one day people woke up to the real impact of easy credit to their lives. The crisis of 2008 should have already served as an important tale of the damage credit can do. But the pattern appears to be repeating itself. Most people still rely heavily on credit and credit ends up accounting for a good chunck of the economic activity in a country. Here in Canada, the average amount of consumer debt has already surpassed the level the USA recorded just before the crisis.

When you hear someone say that a country has grown 'x' percent per year, you would have to understand how much of that is due to credit expansion because the reality is: Unless each one of those activities financed with credit derives a profit, there will be eventually a contraction. This is obvious. Nobody gives money away in the form of credit unless they can make money out of it.

Easy credit is touted as an equalitarian force that allows the middle class to move upward and dream big. That half a million dollars house in the school district you dreamed of is now accessible to you. That's non-sense. The only reason why that house costs half a millions dollars to being with is because people who cannot afford it can get a loan to buy it. If we were all credit averse, these prices would go down substantially.

firfst po5t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44342085)

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