This is a link to an article on the Utne Reader site. Janelle Orsi is a ‘sharing lawyer’ from California and coauthored the book Policies for Shareable Cities.
I think the whole idea of sharing things we aren’t using all the time is a great idea. Rent my truck from me while I’m offshore and I can’t use it anyway. Or I’ll rent you a bedroom if I’m going to be home for a while. People are doing more and more of that sort of thing. Airbnb is just one example. Of course, the officials want to step in and ruin it before it even gets a chance to get started.
The problem Orsi seems to have with it is that the firms who are getting into this now are all just the usual types of business. She seems to be fixated on the issue of the corporations and their owners (shareholders) getting rich(er). I do get the idea of the rich getting richer, that is true- for sure! No argument. But why is it always assumed by the left (Utne Reader is definitely on that side of the aisle), that to get rich you MUST be raping the poor?
Yes, in this country, at this point, we DO help big business get bigger and stay that way. We DO use all kinds of tax dollars and incentives from the public (the poor financing the rich) to help a bigger business over a smaller one. That is WRONG and should not be allowed to go on! There is nothing in our Constitution that allows for that sort of thing and so it is illegal as well as just plain wrong. We are supposed to be for the FREE market, NOT helping some businesses at the expense of others!
The fact that we do those things is NOT an excuse for saying that any kind of business but a co-op, (or another kind that is owned by the employees and customers), is unacceptable. It is only a reason to go back to our founding principles and STOP providing welfare to big business! STOP picking the winners and losers in the business world and allow the process of creative destruction to function properly. Try allowing the free market to work for once (which of course does include co-ops).
I’m not sure that any kind of co-operative won’t eventually deteriorate into exactly the kind of thing that the left is always crying about. Read George Orwells’ Animal Farm. Somebody has to run the thing. Whoever is in power eventually gets corrupted. It seems to be an unchangeable part of human nature. 🙁
I admit, I would need to do a whole lot more studying to try to figure out how something like what Orsi suggests would work in practice. The idea seems to be very much in line with the ideas of personal liberty and empowerment, voluntary actions, etc. I like that. Yes, co-ops can work. The ones I’ve seen have been on a pretty small scale. Fishermen co-ops in one small area. Farmers markets. All very small in scale. How would a large scale one work? One involving hundreds of thousands or millions of people?
The idea has some merit, I would just like to see some details of how to make it work in reality. I would like to see it work. I would like to see the sharing economy compete with the corporation based economy we have now. I just don’t see how it could be made to work in the real world with real people. Maybe she explains it in her book on shareable cities. I haven’t read it yet. One more for my list. 😉