Capitalism

All Hail the "Sharing Economy!" A Mushy Phrase Gives Liberals Cover to Join the Fight Against Big Government

A libertarian's guide to the sharing economy.

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In December 2013, a delegation from the sharing-economy advocacy group, Peers, delivered a pro-Airbnb petition to NY State Senator Liz Krueger (D) |||(Credit: David Medeiros)
(Credit: David Medeiros)

"This is a new economy, the sharing economy," declared Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky last November at an event for some the company's avid hosts, who routinely rent out their spare bedrooms and apartments for short-term stays through the company's website. "There are laws for people and laws for business, but you are a new category—people as businesses," he told the crowd. "It's actually starting to feel like a revolution."

Airbnb's explosive growth has spawned fierce political battles in cities around the world over whether the government should ban or curtail these homegrown hotels, which are providing travelers with an alternative to traditional lodging. And Airbnb is just one of many new online marketplaces that are undermining bad government policies and provoking a backlash from regulators. So-called ridesharing companies, like Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft, which connect car service drivers and passengers through mobile apps, are dismantling cab cartels by making government-permitting regimes irrelevant. Equity crowd funding (i.e., Kickstarter with stock rewards) is poised to partially negate New-Deal Era financial regulations by allowing anyone with a bank account and an Internet connection to stake venture capital. EatWith, a website that allows diners to book paid meals in private homes, leaves food service regulators baffled over whether to crack down or look the other way.

In these brewing public policy battles, many advocates for limiting the role of government don't talk like libertarians. They refer to these new online marketplaces as "the sharing economy," a phrase that's clever branding but too broad to be very meaningful. They argue that these companies represent a new paradigm for American capitalism in which trade (at last!) benefits individuals instead of multinational corporations. The higher purpose of these sharing economy ventures, they assert, isn't making people freer, richer, and happier as customers, workers, and entrepreneurs, but reducing energy consumption and staving off the Malthusian apocalypse.

Sharing economy defenders may be on shaky ground intellectually, but their effort to rebrand capitalism is winning converts and swaying regulators. If mushy phrases and misguided ideas provide cover for, say, Occupy Wall Street protestors to turn up at a demonstration to save Airbnb, libertarians should rejoice.

Is the sharing economy a new paradigm for American capitalism?

"We are building a sharing economy—a new economy with humanity at its center and community at its core," boasts a promotional video for Peers, a political action group founded in 2013 that's been fighting grassroots battles all over the country to keep Airbnb legal.

What is the "sharing economy?" The Peers video breezily refers to babysitting co-ops, community gardens, and the peer-to-peer car rental company Getaround, which are three entities that don't seem to fit in the same category. Peers' Executive Director Natalie Foster told me that her organization made a decision not to focus too much on defining the phrase, but "trust and that human connection is one of the through lines." Indeed, many sharing economy businesses trade on their ability to bringing people together. Lyft drivers encourage their passengers to sit in the front seat and vent about their troubles. Earlier this year, I attended a dinner through EatWith, best described as Airbnb for restaurant meals, and experienced how sharing a home-cooked meal can make complete strangers feel like old friends. But there's nothing new about the businesses of helping people forge new social connections, and plenty of for-profit companies excel in this area. An entire segment of the travel industry is devoted to helping strangers get to know one another.

Should the government regulate dinner parties? Click above to watch a Reason TV story on EatWith, a sharing economy website that lets top chefs work out of their own kitchens.

NYU business school economist Arun Sundararajan, who has emerged as the sharing economy movement's big thinker, told me that the phrase "is encompassing of a wide variety of models of consumption in which you are getting access without ownership." But he acknowledges that this definition is so broad that both public parks and urban transit systems fit the criteria. "Access without ownership" is more commonly referred to as "renting," which isn't exactly new. The epitome of "access without ownership" is a Barnes & Noble superstore, where patrons can lounge around in comfy chairs and practically deface the merchandise.

"We often get caught up on labeling in the emergence of a phenomenon," says Sundararajan, "so I'd want to know what the purpose of the labeling is before deciding whether something falls under the umbrella."

It's true that sharing economy firms like Lyft, Airbnb, Getaround, and EatWith couldn't have existed a decade ago.

NYU Professor Arun Sundararajan, who's an expert on the sharing economy. |||

By reducing transaction costs, the Internet has indeed made it feasible for individuals to sell many goods and services directly to one another. But Ebay, which launched 19 years ago, epitomizes this model and isn't generally considered part of the sharing economy. Urban bike sharing programs, in which individuals transact with government-supported nonprofits, are often included under the sharing economy umbrella. And "sharing," which generally implies compassion or generosity, is a misnomer. These emerging online platforms enable people to sell things to one another.

Libertarians (myself included) often describe these companies as "peer-to-peer" because they allow individuals to sell things to one another without a company acting as a middleman. (Sundararajan views peer-to-peer as a subset of the sharing economy.) But this phrase can also be picked apart. Libertarians celebrate peer-to-peer businesses, but why is paying a neighbor to borrow a drill through the website Snapgoods better than renting the same drill from a hardware store? If a real estate company advertises an apartment through Airbnb is that any worse than if a tenant of the same real estate company is the one advertising the apartment? For many of these industries, peer-to-peer is nothing new. TaskRabbit is a great way to hire a handyman, but the home repair industry has always been comprised primarily of independent contractors. The taxi business has been dominated by drivers working for themseves going back to its early days in Victorian London.

The phrase "peer-to-peer" is still a more useful descriptor than "sharing economy" because it references an important

Peers Executive Director Natalie Foster. |||

phenomenon, which is that new technologies are eliminating middlemen. But the real value of companies like Lyft, EatWith, and Airbnb is that they make new forms of trade possible. It doesn't matter whether the buyer or seller is an individual or an incorporated business. Contrary to what Airbnb's Brian Chesky says, corporations are just groups of people collaborating with each other.

At first glance, Peers' Executive Director Natalie Foster seems like an odd fit for a group that promotes economic freedom: She's a veteran of MoveOn.org and the Obama campaign, who's now bringing her organizational expertise to the battle against NIMBYism and rent seeking in the accommodations industry.

Peers brought a large turnout of Airbnb supporters to a hearing in Silver Lake, California held by the city's neighborhood council, which was considering a ban on short-term accommodations. Last December, the organization led a week of action in New York City to support Airbnb, and members hand delivered a petition with more than 230,000 online signatures to New York State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-District 28, Manhattan). In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Peers played a key role in defeating a law that would have made it a crime to advertise on Airbnb by helping local activists redraft a petition and sharpen their communications strategy. The organization also played a part in legalizing the practice of renting a neighbor's car in California.

Peers' messaging harps on keywords like collaborate, sustainability, and community. "One thing I love about this space is that it's not political," says Foster, "and people come at it from a libertarian and socialist background and we all meet in this interesting way of thinking about a bottom-up economy."

Outlets such as SalonColumbia Journalism Review, and ValleyWag have attempted to discredit the nonprofit as a shill for industry because of its financial and organizational ties to Airbnb. Peers co-founder James Slezak bristles as this suggestion, asserting that he and his collaborators hatched the idea for Peers on their own, and that Airbnb got involved later. But why does it matter, as long as the company's promoting good policies? Like his critics on the left, Slezak seems to buy into the fallacy that having ties to a big company undermines the value of a cause.

Slezak describes himself as an environmentalist and a progressive who is "inspired by libertarian, socialist, and anarchist political philosophy." He told me that he doesn't want the group "to play into the sort of deregulatory agenda of people who might see this as a way to further a pro-industry agenda." Both Slezak and Foster believe that many of the regulations they're fighting made sense in the old world, but simply shouldn't be applied to the sharing economy. A lot of regulations were written "for a different sort of economy," says Foster.

Slezak and Foster are alluding to an idea best articulated by Sundararajan, who argues that the customer feedback mechanisms built into online platforms like Airbnb make them largely self-governing. "Rather than needing a government regulator to insure cleanliness of a shared economy space," says Sundararajan, "you can rely on the reputation system to enforce that."

There's merit to Sundararajan's argument, but the phenomenon he's describing isn't limited to the sharing economy. If EatWith hosts give their customers food poisoning, the sickened guests can post about what happened on the offending seller's profile for all future customers to see, but websites like the review site Yelp subject old economy businesses to the same accountability. And most adversaries of sharing economy businesses aren't calling for regulations to improve the customer's experience; they want to protect aggrieved third parties. For example, groups that are fighting to ban Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft aren't complaining that the cars are dirty and the drivers are rude, but that they lack adequate insurance coverage, such as in the case of Sophia Liu, a six-year old killed by an Uber car in San Francisco last year. In New York City, Airbnb's critics complain that the service needs to be reigned in because it provides a way for landlords to harass rent-stabilized tenants.

Will the sharing economy save the earth?

Sunil Paul, a tech entrepreneur who made his fortune as the founder of the spam-filtering company Brightmail, is now the CEO of Sidecar and a major advocate for the sharing economy. In 2010, Paul played a key role in getting a bill passed in California that clarified state insurance law to make it legal for individuals to act like mini car rental agencies by leasing their idle vehicles to strangers. (Similar laws were passed in Washington State and Oregon.)

Click above to watch a Reason TV story on how Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar are upending the taxi business in cities around the world by making government-permitting regimes irrelevant.

As the CEO of Sidecar, Paul is constantly battling with local governments that want to ban or curtail his company's operations. At times he talks like a techno-libertarian fighting backwards-looking government regulators, but a greater motivation, if you take him at his word, is saving the planet. Information technology is good for the environment, he argues, because it allows humans to make more efficient use of dwindling resources. Paul calls this concept the "CleanWeb." (Through a Sidecar representative, Paul declined to be interviewed for this story.) In a video explaining the principles of the CleanWeb, Sidecar co-founder Nick Allen cites estimates that a night in a traditional hotel creates three-times the carbon footprint as an evening spent in someone's home. According to Allen, that means Airbnb is helping to save the planet.

Sure, it's possible those empty hotels driven out of business by Airbnb would be torn down to make way for, say, a nature reserve. What Allen doesn't mention is that they might also be repurposed to satisfy other human desires that require just as much if not more electricity. It's a phenomenon called the Jevons paradox, named after the

Sunil Paul, the CEO of Sidecar. |||

nineteenth-century British economist William Jevons, who observed that as steam engines became more efficient demand for coal actually grew. Similarly, if Paul and Allen's company Sidecar were to takeover much of the cab industry, other vehicles might quickly take the place of all those idle yellow taxis. Paul and Allen should reflect on Thomas Edison's 1908 prediction that if horse cars "could be transformed into motor cars overnight," it would "so relieve traffic [congetion] as to make Manhattan Island resemble 'The Deserted Village.'"

Saving the planet, unlike defending individual freedom, is something politicians can reliably get behind. Former California Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), who sponsored the bill that made peer-to-peer car rentals possible in California, told StreetsBlog that the purpose of the bill was to "encourage better environmental behavior." Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-Seattle), who successfully sponsored a similar bill in Washington State, testified that car-sharing leads to "more efficient use of resources" and "may result in an incremental improvement for the environment."

Trumpeting the environmental benefits of a product also holds sway with customers. A promotional video for the European company Carpooling.com, which has moved hitchhiking into the digital age, doesn't emphasize that its participants can save money on gas and tolls; there's a higher purpose. "Oil and natural gas and goal are set to peak and go into decline in the next decade," the video (wrongly) asserts. "With rising energy prices in the back of our minds we either need to find new energy sources or share our resources more efficiently."

"There aren't enough resources on this planet for everyone to have one of everything, and we need to live more sustainably," says Janelle Orsi, who is the co-founder and CEO of the Oakland-based Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), one of the leading advocacy groups for sharing economy businesses. The SELC is doing vital work in the Golden State. In 2012, it played a role in the passage of the California Homemade Food Act, which loosens restrictions on home kitchens. For the past two years, the SELC has been rallying support for a law that would change California's legal code to make it clear that alternative currencies (like Bitcoin) are permitted in the state. Orsi's co-founder, Jenny Kassan, filed the original petition that led to the passage of the 2012 U.S. JOBS Act, which will eventually make it possible for average investors to take equity stakes in upstart businesses.

Click above to watch a Reason TV story about equity crowdfunding, and a federal law that promises to open venture capital markets to the masses.

The SELC recently co-authored a report titled Policies for Shareable Cities, which almost could have been written by my colleagues at the Reason Foundation. Among other things, it advocates loosening regulations on food trucks, allowing more home-based food production, reducing permitting fees for home expansions, rewriting building codes to allow for small dwellings, making zoning codes more flexible, and imposing fewer restrictions on the accommodations industry. Less palatable to libertarians, the policy brief also calls for taxpayer subsidies for everything from bike-sharing programs to urban farming.

Janelle Orsi, co-founder and CEL of the Sustainable Economies Law Center. |||

Orsi sees the sharing economy as an alternative to traditional capitalism and draws a sharp distinction between these businesses and traditional firms. "I think we need to loosen a lot of regulation," Orsi told me in a phone interview, "but we can't loosen them for traditional business structures" because "they're generating profits for their shareholders, so there are tons of opportunities to exploit people." Profit-making is anathema to Orsi's vision for the sharing economy. She favors letting Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft operate, for example, but insists that drivers should be allowed to earn only enough to cover the cost of tolls and fuel.

Are libertarians striking a Faustian bargain by joining forces with groups like Peers and aligning themselves with activists like Orsi, who are explicitly anti-capitalist? Nah.

The emergence of companies like Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the government out of the taxi business. Airbnb is making it possible for people who aren't rich to visit and move to places like New York, despite the city's out-of-control real estate costs. And yet every day there's news of another city council or community board trying to ban or block these services. In these battles, libertarians need all the help they can get.

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  1. This is right in line with the progressive idea that only “big” corporations should be punished for being successful. Like most of their ilk they are only fighting for the freedoms that they want to enjoy. Everyone else can still get bent.

  2. What is the “sharing economy?” The Peers video breezily refers to babysitting co-ops, community gardens, and the peer-to-peer car rental company Getaround, which are three entities that don’t seem to fit in the same category

    As if no one has ever had a “babysitting co-op” or a community garden or ride sharing before, or paid a kid to drive their car cross-country for them, or whatever. This stuff is timeless, it’s just that the internet is allowing for efficient advertising and communication of such things, and also allowing for efficient ratings and feedback systems. The internet is allowing it to expand beyond a notice on a bulletin board. But this stuff is nothing new.

    1. I have cunning plan. Allow the voluntary exchange of goods and services by individuals and businesses.

      1. WHOA, WHOA, WHOA there, big fella!

        Cheese and RICE – let’s get some regulations in place first so “we” can “manage” this effectively. Meaning “the government”.

        For the children…

        1. I think I can figure out what I want to buy and sell without some central authority. I mean, how would they know what I want, anyway?

          1. They know what you should have. What you want is irrelevant.

            1. That seems awfully inefficient to me.

              1. Efficiency is relative. Your frame of reference is just wrong.

              2. Efficiency is irrelevant. You will be assimilated.

          2. They have to protect you from being taken advantage of by evil profiteers.

            1. Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.

              1. No, sorry, man, can’t let you do that. You’re just too stupid to know what you’re doing. Let us smart people make your decisions for you. Well protect you from the big bad world.

      2. Crazy racist.

    2. It is. It is also called “payment in kind” which is also known as income tax evasion.

      I am sure all of those good right thinking progs are declaring the value they get from these things on their taxes right?

      It is too bad the GOP is the stupid party and not the evil party once in a while. I would to see the IRS go after these assholes. It would serve them right to watch them get a bit of their own medicine. Maybe they would find taxing the shit out of other people less appealing going forward.

      1. Maybe they would find taxing the shit out of other people less appealing going forward.

        Nope. Never happen. A special exemption would be required for themselves and the other right-thinking people. But the appeal of fucking everyone else would still shine like that city on a hill.

      2. John|5.13.14 @ 5:19PM|#
        …”It is also called “payment in kind” which is also known as income tax evasion.”…

        There are some real advantages!

      3. Frankly, we ought to encourage as much income tax evasion as possible.

      4. Fuck, I didn’t report on my 1040 that my brother helped me move in return for helping him move last summer. Guess I need to get a lawyer.

        1. You do now since the NSA just alerted the IRS. Congratulations!

      5. Maybe they would find taxing the shit out of other people less appealing going forward.

        Nope, because:

        “Profit-making is anathema to Orsi’s vision for the sharing economy. She favors letting Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft operate, for example, but insists that drivers should be allowed to earn only enough to cover the cost of tolls and fuel.”

        After all, why would we want to create wealth by a mutually beneficial exchange when we can all just squeak by? Because “tie-tie” is better “for the children” than win-win…

    3. “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” Some Chinese dude.

  3. …why is paying a neighbor to borrow a drill through the website Snapgoods better than renting the same drill from a hardware store?

    Better for what? The economy? The economy is just the sum of individual interests. If the borrower and the lender are happy with the transaction they’ve chosen then it’s good.

  4. Referring to it as a “sharing economy” is a weaselly way of begging permission for your existence from progressives.

    Libertarians should stand up for the moral rightness of free exchange, on it’s own merits, instead of trying to pretend that THIS type of market is “better” and “different” than the old ugly meany free market economy. By trying to create branding that is acceptable to the self-appointed moral arbiters on the left, we concede to them a moral standing that they don’t deserve.
    They do NOT have the right to judge whether some new economic paradigm is morally praiseworthy or not, and we should not suffer for a minute that they have any such right be event attempting to appeal to their moral sensibilities.

    1. Well said, Hazel, but I think the problem lies not so much with libertarians conceding moral standing, but with the people who are starting these ventures; often times, they’re the very progressives who think a “normal” economy (read: free market) is bad. They’re partially using weasel words and branding not just to appease regulators, but to appease themselves and their friends. They’re groveling because they’re trying to make money and they feel guilty about it and they know their friends disapprove.

      These are the torturous lengths progressive mentality forces anyone to if they just want to live a relatively normal life and not obsess over the morality of food or making money or having children or having a nice house. And so we are seeing the results as progressive-mentality entrepreneurs twist themselves into a pretzel to try and square rational business with the abject irrationality of progressive hatred of profit.

      1. Might I point out that by feeling guilty about making money, they are, effectively, conceding the money-making field to JUST THOSE evil corporations they hate so much?

        If you hate “traditional business structures” so much, why would you NOT want to steal their business? Why would you purposely wall yourself off from making some of that money?

        1. Because their beliefs are utterly irrational. You are describing a rational, aggressive response. They are not rational. They are consumed with guilt. It’s just a fucking religion, and is one of the ones that is powered by guilt. Making a profit is sinful, so they have to come up with tortured rationalizations of how they can make some profit without it being sinful.

          Just think of it in terms of, say, a Muslim country trying to figure out how to actually have money lending without usury and the incredibly convoluted ways they go about making it “ok”. This is the exact same thing. It’s all fucking religion.

      2. They’re partially using weasel words and branding not just to appease regulators, but to appease themselves and their friends.

        As much as I hate agreeing with Episiarch, this is how I see it. Brand of approval! Great Success!

        1. You sound just like your mom.

          1. You would know!

            Wait, that didn’t come out right…

    2. That’s what they want–a permission-based society. With rights, obligations, and money flowing to us from a central authority. Mothermayiism.

    3. I agree Hazel. This whole thing is just more tyranny of the hip and cool.

    4. This, exactly.

      Allies (especially fair-weather, single-narrow-issue allies) are never worth compromising your defining principles.

      This is not the time to say “Hey, you’re right, let’s be friends” to these people who are simply just now feeling the boot they’ve been forcing on others for decades. This is the time to to say “Hey, WE were right all along, and now I think you can see why” and try to show them how we can work toward the same actual, lasting goal of allowing free enterprise.

      And if they want to call “free, unregulated enterprise” by the name of “sharing enterprise” or some other nonsense, I don’t give a damn – as long as it is really “free unregulated, enterprise”.

      1. No! Fuckin’ hell, no! It’s always time to turn your enemies into your friends. If you never do so, eventually even your friends get tired, turn into enemies, and then you have no friends at all.

        Let me know when you have the make-everything-right button within reach.

        1. I just want to change the message from ‘leave me alone’, to ‘leave me alone, or else’.

      2. This is the time to to say “Hey, WE were right all along, and now I think you can see why”

        Horseshit. That just makes people mad. Far better to say they were right all along. People respond to flattery a lot better than nyah-nyah.

        And even if 99% of the time you fail and they don’t help you, it’s worth it for the 1%.

        1. I wish they would try some flattery on US.

          Why is it that they never seem to be using the tactics you advocate, and still manage to do just fine making enemies and painting everyone else as evil?

          1. They’d do better if they didn’t do the latter. But trust me, they flatter plenty. And the way you get flattery is to give flattery. And even if you get 1 flatter back for every 100 you give, you’re ahead of the game.

            1. Exactly who are they flattering? Themselves maybe….

      3. I’m sorry. You were right all along.

        See, I bet I had you on my side already.

        1. Robert, please – go fawn somewhere else.

          Sometimes enemies can be friends. Sometimes enemies are enemies because your and their goals are mutually exclusive – there can be no “partnering”.

          This “sharing” economy malarky is simply an instance of a broken clock being wrong twice a day. I’m still going to disagree with the clock the other 1438 minutes each day.

          That disgusting trap about flattering people so you have a 1% chance they will like you is .. well, disgusting trap.

          1. Being disgusting, or disgusted, whichever it is, has its rewards. I realize as I look back on 60 yrs. that I should’ve fawned a lot more.

    5. Why are progressives ever tolerated in the first place? They are homogenous lay the biggest bunch of pussies in the universe. It is confounding that ANYONE puts up with their crap.

      In fact, if everyone who is not a libertarian just got up one day and decided to shove the progs aside in their daily life, there isn’t a damn thing those weaklings could about it. All anyone would have to do is ball up one hand into a fist , raise it, and look at them menacingly. The prof would then cower in fear. As is their nature.

      Seriously, we are living through the age of the beta male.

      1. Rucking iPad. I meant to say everyone who is not a progressive, not libertarian. Prof should be prog. God damn thing always trying to correct what I type.

      2. Rucking iPad. I meant to say everyone who is not a progressive, not libertarian. Prof should be prog. God damn thing always trying to correct what I type.

      3. Rucking iPad. I meant to say everyone who is not a progressive, not libertarian. Prof should be prog. God damn thing always trying to correct what I type.

  5. Some Sharer dude: Oh..my…..effing goodness. This “new” system of individuals freely transacting with one another, free from force, coercion and theft through the force of government….. We need to find a me for this new thing. Like….um……cause it’s a phenomenon you know…and all.

    Some other individual: sharer dude, it’s called the FREE MARKET. It’s been around forever. Isn’t it great when individuals are free to transact with one another? Also, the provider owns the means of production….so you can even call it free market capitalism if you wish.

    Some Sharer dude: BLASPHEMY!!!!! CORPORATE PIG!!!!!! BURN HIM!!! BURN THEM ALL!!!!!

    Some other individual: Bring it mother effer!!!!!!!! COME BURN ME BITCH!!!!

    Some Sharer dude: Hello police, there is some dude threatening me…he wants to burn me and hurt me….oh my Hello, Bill Deblasio…..there are some free marketeers operating illegal businesses, they are so anti government and all….so you better stop them. They threatened me too, saying they want to burn poor me. I mean, they are not paying taxes too. Because we need ROaDZ!!!! And POLEEsE….GET THEM!!!!!!

    1. This is pretty much exactly how it goes. My only critique…this is Reason…you can say ‘mother fucker’ if you want.

    2. Wimpy libertarian sharer dude:

      But please Mr. Progressive what I’m doing is “sharing” it’s nice and good, not like that terrible unregulated free market. Please mister progressive don’t regulate me, I’m one of the good guys, I’m a small humble small-businessman who would never dare rise to far above my station. Like me! LIKE ME!
      I’m not a bad person!

      1. Bleeding heart libertarians.

        I can understand trying to be civil and rational in argument (especially if the other side is as well), but you’re absolutely right. We have NOTHING to apologize for in our views, and should not try to obfuscate them to appease the tender sensibilities of others.

        1. Freedom? That is worship word. Yang worship. You will not speak it!

          1. That was a season 3 episode, right? There was nothing ham handed about its metaphors at all.

            Although still not as bad as “Brain and brain! What is brain?”

            1. No, BP. You have committed a grave error. That’s from “Omega Glory,” second season.

              I actually love that episode, despite its heavy use of the Earth-parallel trope.

            2. It was Roddenberry’s script also. Supposedly he considered using it for the 2nd pilot.

              1. With Capt. Van Gelder Tracy.

      2. “Enlightened” Proggie Sharer Babe replies:

        “Profit-making is anathema to my [Orsi’s] vision for the sharing economy. I favor letting Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft operate, for example, but insists that the drivers should be allowed to earn only enough to cover the cost of tolls and fuel.”

        So, you can have your sharing economy, Mr. Wimpy, but you can’t have your free market.

        1. Oops…should’ve read one more post. Didn’t mean to repeat your post, Hazel!

  6. She favors letting Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft operate, for example, but insists that drivers should be allowed to earn only enough to cover the cost of tolls and fuel

    Yeah, you can drive people around, but as long as you don’t make any money at it!

    How dare you try to actually earn a living doing something that a “traditional business” does? How dare you?

    1. Hazel,

      If you won’t do it for the collective, you shouldn’t be doing it. Doing it for yourself just makes you an exploiter.

      1. Right on. It’s not like the drivers need to make enough to buy supper or rent a place to live.

        Progressives don’t understand that profits are what business owners get instead of wages.

        1. And they don’t understand that central control means central control. You can’t have a socialist economy and have people out working for themselves or doing things the government doesn’t approve and are part of the overall plan.

          If they want freedom and to set up their own co-ops, they need to stop supporting socialism.

  7. “If mushy phrases and misguided ideas provide cover for, say, Occupy Wall Street protestors to turn up at a demonstration to save Airbnb, libertarians should rejoice.”

    ??

    Look, I think ‘airBnB’ is all well and good. more power to them. But I don’t think “mushy phrases and misguided ideas” should ever be treated as ‘equally legitimate’ simply because they’re applied on the same side of an issue as I happen to be.

    Even if I tolerate some dumb monkeys for coming to the right conclusion for the wrong reason, its not like I’m gonna rejoice about it.

  8. I can’t stand the buzz phrase “sharing economy.” You are not sharing anything! You are paying for a service! CitiBike isn’t a bike share. It’s a fucking bicycle rental service!

  9. No Massa!!! I don’t make no profits!!! I’z a sharer, see? No MASSA , please don’t beat me!!! Don’t beat me massa!

  10. Want to “share in the economy?”

    Get a job!

  11. The enemy of my enemy.

    1. . . .may be yet another enemy.

      1. Exactly. The enemy of your enemy just means it’s yet one more enemy. Pretty soon it’s just enemies all the way down.

        1. I mean, circumstances have to be just right for enemies to ally against other enemies.

          1. In my Machiavellian mind I see this “Sharing Economy” brand as a way to flip these people, or use them as leverage against the state.

  12. This whole thing is just an example of how these people are so fucking retarded they don’t even qualify as Marxists. The old Marxists were evil but they at least understood their own ideology. The people can’t even do that.

    This is what central planning and state control mean you fucking half wits. It means central planning and state control. if the government is going to control the transportation system, something I guarantee you every single one of these retards thinks it should, it can’t do that and have any hippie asshole with a car out picking up fairs at cost or below cost. The people they pick up are just lost business to the government approved taxis and mass transit system. They government builds mass transit so people will use it not so a seat can sit idle because some dumb shit thinks he knows better and gives someone a ride.

    You can’t have it half way. These morons apparently don’t understand that. This is what socialism means. It means the government controlling the means of production. That means people don’t so much as grow tomatoes in their back yard or give someone a ride in return for gas money unless the government tells them to do it. Letting people act on their own just allows them to work for themselves and not for the collective like they should.

    I hope they fine the shit out of every single one of these assholes or better yet throw them in jail. This is what they want, they just are not smart enough to realize it.

    1. I think they should be allowed to oppress themselves just enough so that they realize what assholes they have been to others all these long years.

  13. This has promise in getting the Democrats’ attention. I see at least one big scarf.

    1. Ooh, and I see a messenger bag. I’d say it’s a lock for freedom. This freedom.

      1. It shouldn’t be. I would happily oppress the living fuck out of these people. And when they didn’t like it, explain to them how society and the common good demand that they be punished. It really is about time these dumb motherfuckers learn that words have meaning.

        1. Just wave them off and say, “Social contract”. It seems to work for them!

          1. I need to start trolling prog sights as an actual fucking Marxist. The shocked looks and butt hurt would be priceless.

            1. Again, my fantasy is to have some officious looking woman who’s about nine miles of rocky road show up, holding a clipboard and assigning them to their collective work camps.

        2. Why this eagerness to piss off some few new allies? Eh, it’s par for the course for libertarians, actually all ideologues.

          You weren’t complaining when they were strangling you, only when they let up enough on the rope for you to talk. I guarantee you the 1st words out of my mouth aren’t going to be “fuck you”, but “thank you”. Someone’s got the power to kill you and you complain when they let you breathe?! Real smart, that.

          1. Brilliant we’re supposed to thank them through our teeth for not strangling us.

            I might do that, while I ready the knife to stick in their eye.

            1. Sure, if you were smart enough to bring a knife to death row. And if the executioner is alone. Otherwise, if he gives you a chance to live, take it & take off.

  14. Money is icky.

    1. Well, profit is icky.

      1. Actually according to that Osi character, even payment for time & labor is icky, at least if it’s driving. But it’s better than illegal, ain’t it?

        1. What’s the fucking point of it being legal if you aren’t allowed to benefit from it in any way?

  15. Technolibertarianism and technocommunism appear similar and intertwine and some entrepreneurs try to exploit both, so they are hard to tell apart sometimes.

    Reason should stop being snowed by the idea that this is capitalism or “redistributed capitalism” away from multi-nationals. What it is, is communist-style oligarchy.

    First, your property is collectivized — AirBnB, GetAround etc. collectivize everybody’s rooms, car time, dinner table seat, etc. and own it all and put it on *their* platform that *they code and control*. You no longer own your property, or to be more precise, the value of your property as yours alone has now been made nil, and you know only have value to the extent that you particulate in the coded collective.

    Next, in exchange for a substantial percentage of your income from the transactions — you know, like share-cropping, you are allowed to rent out part of your collectivized property to the collectivized public (who is now using these services as “cheaper” than regular motels, rental cars etc in the regulated economy).

    It’s not that you yourself decide to rent out your room or sell a meal in your home and use a neutral platform or tool under your control to do so; instead, you submit to the collectivization of the platform owner. He wins and makes big money. You don’t.

    http://3dblogger.typepad.com/w…..unism.html

    1. Until AirBnb membership becomes mandatory, I don’t see how this is “collectivization”.

      You do get paid for renting your room on AirBnb. And you can turn people down. And you can drop out any time you want.

      1. Although I can see how the crypto-socialists quoted in the above article might JUST LOVE the idea of making a mandatory and unpaid version of AirBnb.

        Mind of a progressive: “Wouldn’t it just be WONDERFUL if we could FORCE people to rent out their spare rooms for FREE??? That would be SO MUCH BETTER than this evil money-grubbing, profit-making AirBnb thing!”

    2. If you voluntarily participate knowing the terms up front then you aren’t being exploited, and until these services start appropriating property from unwilling participants, they aren’t “collectivizing” anything. They’re assholes for trying to sneak around regs that they are happy to see imposed on their competition, not for engaging in voluntary transactions with people. Hell, in Libertopia it would be perfectly permissible for you to join a commune and sacrifice everything for the collective, so long as you don’t force anybody to participate (so far, cooperative or voluntary communism is mostly a theoretical construct even at the micro level).

      1. 1 minute too late. I tell you it’s like beat the clock here.

  16. Are libertarians striking a Faustian bargain by joining forces with groups like Peers and aligning themselves with activists like Orsi, who are explicitly anti-capitalist? Nah.

    But actually, yeah. Because the upstart interests they are presently carving out exceptions for, that libertarians support, will become the entrenched interests who oppress the next generation of upstarts in defense of their hard-won carveouts within a decade. And then we start the whole adventure over again, while the regulatory leviathan expands apace and we cheer as the next generation of cronies get their divine dispensation. Keep chasing that carrot though. Every movement needs its useful idiots.

    1. Ten years from now Uber will be lobbying for regulations on ride-sharing services, because safety, and for the children.

      We can let just ANYONE pick STRANGERS up on the street for MONEY, can we?

      1. Exactly. Same as it ever was.

    2. So what? You think you’re ever going to get freedom for free? It’s alway going to be the next fight. You want to quit before the first coalition battle?

      This is divide & conquer. It’s always good to get your enemies fighting each other instead of both of them fighting you. Each loophole paves the way for the next loophole.

      1. I would agree with you if the premise were correct. But my point entire point is that I, “we”, aren’t actually getting any freedom out of the deal. A few privileged companies are getting a little more at the margins, and then they promptly turn around once they’ve got it and squash it for anyone who comes after to preserve their competitive advantage. It’s regulatory capture 101. So buddying up with the next generation’s cronyists accomplishes exactly dick.

  17. I have cunning plan. Allow the voluntary exchange of goods and services by individuals and businesses.

    You MONSTER.

  18. If Liberals came to accept free-market Capitalism in any form, I’d say hell has frozen over.

    I’m really not looking forward to that either, cause I hate cold weather.

  19. Takoyaki, gyoza and okonomiyaki are NOT “gourmet” Japanese food.

  20. And “sharing,” which generally implies compassion or generosity, is a misnomer.

    Not in all contexts. Shares of stock, timeshares, shared libraries, etc have nothing to do with magnaminity.

    And there’s a big diff between a “shared” resource as opposed to a rented one. The rental car company is hopefully not using the rental cars for their own business purposes and the hardware store isn’t fixing up their shop with the rental drills. In the shared economy you have people who are using property that is mostly devoted to their personal use to make a few bucks on the side. It may more precisely be labeled a nonspecialized economy.

    1. Not a bad point. All corporations that sell stock are “sharing” economies. I want to adopt this argument, just to see what shade of purple the next progressive’s face that I tell it to turns.

  21. service needs to be reigned in

    Clever turn of phrase? Nah, I bet it’s just that Jim Epstein made a mistake and that proofreader they were advertising for still isn’t on the job. Or that they pay too little for a good one.

    1. It’s called community editing, Robert, and they appreciate your help in the matter. Together we stand.

      1. Meaning that was all just for show about hiring a proofreader? I know I’ve wasted my time before applying for insincere job offers,

    2. Oil and natural gas and goal

      Yeah, it’s the latter. 🙁

  22. You’re delusional if you think these self righteous leftists will join any battle against big government. This is simply yet another example of their never ending hypocrisy to suffocate everyone but themselves with government regulation and aggression.

    What’s the difference between a liberal and a developer? A liberal is the person who already owns a house on the shore, a developer is the guy who wants to build a house on the shore. You all know what’s going to happen in that scenario.

  23. Totally, Lake Tahoe in the 70s. We’re worried about overbuilding and what it might do to the lake. Everyone there already, grandfathered in. No one volunteers to move away or dismantle their home.
    Funny, reminds me of Unions. The newcomer ‘brother’ will bear the brunt of all negotiated pay-cuts, work-rule set backs. Funny how that works.

  24. It’s pretty sad activity which comes natural to people are seen as innovative. That’s how regulated we’ve become. When we challenge ONE regulation it “looks” we’re changing the economy when all we’re doing is fulfilling actions that is normal in a true free community.

    Also, I can’t understand this:

    “describes himself as an environmentalist and a progressive who is “inspired by libertarian, socialist, and anarchist political philosophy.”

    Progressives are constantly demanding for more regulations for their projects and agendas but at the same time claim to be individualists?

    They really are a sparkling bunch.

    1. Progressives seriously are the biggest and most un-self-aware cunts of the political spectrum.

      They only fight for or defend the freedoms THEY want to use, and not only do they want the freedom to do those things, they want them subsidized by others. And they want everything else banned.

      All they care about is about forcing other people to do things for their own benefit, and then they portray themselves as self-sacrificing for doing it.

      “Look at me! Aren’t I great for making you pay for my solar panels and acupuncture? Aren’t I swell?”

  25. I agree that peer to peer is probably a better label than sharing economy, and I certainly don’t think it’s going to save the world. But the companies in this sector are offering those of us looking to travel cheaply a lot of great new options. I’ve compiled a list of resources and reviews relevant to the traveler: http://www.sharetraveler.com

  26. its awesome. Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $500 a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. http://www.Pow6.com

  27. Great article.

    Sad to see so many people still unswayed with deregulation in a broad sense.

    Companies are groups of people. They just bring in more because there are more people. It doesn’t make it good or bad.

    This article struck on something huge; People on the internet defaulting as the regulation backbone of business. I think as time passes this will prove to make more sense and be more effective than your out of touch local laws/city board. Which is probably why the govt is reaching so hard for the internet. They feel their need slipping away every day.

    Every person acts as a part of self-regulation online.

  28. Sorry, I don’t forgive them for their regular statism. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is one thing, but not even acknowledging that icky-icky capitalism IS the right thing, and continuing opposition when it doesn’t directly affect them, erases no stains from the liberal soul.

  29. Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude. Wow.

    http://www.Crypt-Anon.tk

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