29.5.14

MAKING MONEY FROM SHARING.

Last week, we looked at Jeremy Rifkin fretting over the possibility that shared property such as spare bedrooms, garden tools, bicycles, while lowering the pressure to make more stuff, might be another opportunity for entrepreneurs to make money.  Now comes Dean Baker, fearful that those entrepreneurs are engaging in a contrivance to evade taxes and regulations.  (And how things change: the self-styled progressives of the early twentieth century set up public utilities so as to make regular the pricing and taxation of businesses clothed with a public interest.  Thus the passenger and freight transportation cartels, and later, the telephone cartel.  I got to establish my teaching chops making sense of how those cartels outlived their usefulness.)  David Henderson suggests Mr Baker is excessively fearful.  The two services that received the most space are Uber, a cellularly-dispatched version of the jitneys that gave the streetcar companies of the 1920s fits, and Airbnb, which strikes me as a much more orderly market in temporary housing than looking in the classified ads for rooming houses, or finding a hippie commune.

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