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Why the Sharing Economy Is About Desperation, Not Trust

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the share-and-share-alike-but-pay-me dept.

The Internet 331

An anonymous reader writes "Wired recently ran a cover story about the sharing economy — shorthand for the rise of peer-to-peer rental services like Lyft and Airbnb — which they call a cultural and economic breakthrough. They say it has ushered in a 'new era of Internet-enabled intimacy.' An article at New York Magazine has another theory: that it arose because of the weakness in the real economy. Quoting: 'A huge precondition for the sharing economy has been a depressed labor market, in which lots of people are trying to fill holes in their income by monetizing their stuff and their labor in creative ways. In many cases, people join the sharing economy because they've recently lost a full-time job and are piecing together income from several part-time gigs to replace it. In a few cases, it's because the pricing structure of the sharing economy made their old jobs less profitable. (Like full-time taxi drivers who have switched to Lyft or Uber.) In almost every case, what compels people to open up their homes and cars to complete strangers is money, not trust.'"

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tl;dr (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851861)

tl;dr Marx was right that an over-production would leave the majority in poverty, and the only economically sustainable solution is sharing. It's not "desperation", but an inevitable and rational necessity.

Re:tl;dr (5, Insightful)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 7 months ago | (#46851897)

Marx talked of productivity increases, but what Marx didn't live to see was how dramatically productivity would actually increase over the twentieth century, to the point where so many paid workers would simply be laid off. About the wealth gap, he turned out to be more right than he could have ever foreseen.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" (5, Insightful)

monkease (726622) | about 7 months ago | (#46851965)

...but I don't think that the only necessities are economic (...as both dyed-thru Marxists and Neocons seem to? I get that this is not you). While it's true the trigger for my involvement with "sharing"--from free-as-in-beer file-sharing to using Airbnb to potlucks to etc. etc.--may sometimes be economic, "because I can't afford to otherwise" doesn't actually make it in the top three of my reasons, now very much engaged with "sharing," for continuing in it.

The New Intimacy is new not because humans are different, but because more are more available than ever before. #internet

Economic "realists" are the children who built the world variously self-destructing.

Re:"Necessity is the mother of invention" (4, Interesting)

udippel (562132) | about 7 months ago | (#46852163)

...but I don't think that the only necessities are economic (...as both dyed-thru Marxists and Neocons seem to? I get that this is not you). While it's true the trigger for my involvement with "sharing"--from free-as-in-beer file-sharing to using Airbnb to potlucks to etc. etc.--may sometimes be economic, "because I can't afford to otherwise" doesn't actually make it in the top three of my reasons, now very much engaged with "sharing," for continuing in it.

The New Intimacy is new not because humans are different, but because more are more available than ever before.
 

Perceive yourself being modded up 'Insightful'.

It is a new economic paradigm that currently evolves. Until recently, economics was based on the distribution of scare resources. And Marx didn't live to see this new aspect. Therefore, despite of his usefulness of his work in our days, his insights need to be accompanied by the only-evolving paradigm of managing an oversupply.
Combine this with the concept of the necessity of growth, and we all run into troubled times. Because the necessity of growth is by mathematical definition not linear but exponential. Compound interest, in case you don't understand the pure term.
Overall, an exponential growth is needed [so teach us the prevailing economic theories], while on the other hand an oversupply with decreasing prices [due to great leaps in productivity] kind of drowns us in mountains of consumables.

Re:tl;dr (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852009)

What would have bothered Marx about the wealth gap is not it's existence, but the way it's disconnected from productivity of the work force. That, and the present forms of lobbying as a form of political capitalism.

Re:tl;dr (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852143)

I daresay that would have made a pleasant change from the usual things that bothered marx, like where his next drink was coming from, how to keep the mistress quiet, or how to reach that bothersome boil on his ass.

Re:tl;dr (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 months ago | (#46852011)

Oh please, the Industrial Revolution was "the" killer for skilled artisans and craftsmen who were often replaced by unskilled labor operating machinery which incorporated the skill. Being self-employed and providing services directly became much harder, you had to be a worker at a factory because they owned the machinery and reaped the profits. Probably the worst time to be a worker was in the late 1800s and early 1900s when Taylorism was at its peak and it was all about how many seconds operation X took at the assembly line and it was all about dumb replaceable workers you could drag in from the street at subsistence wages.

It never really changed until Ford doubled the worker's wages in 1914 and from there was the golden age of the "skilled" worker, concepts like Kanban/Lean Manufacturing in the 1950s also focused on small cells of skilled workers providing much higher flexibility and lower defect rates than the big, long assembly lines. Then started a new cycle where the skill those workers had were incorporated into robotics, again forcing us to develop a new set of meta-skills because it can crank out parts with near perfect precision 24x7 and it was back to huge production lines. We still needed a lot of monitoring and repair though, because the first robots were rather dumb and did things rather mindlessly. Now those skills are being incorporated into electronics, and we're again looking for new meta skills. It all comes full circle again and again.

Oh please, Indeed. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852071)

Then started a new cycle where the skill those workers had were incorporated into robotics, again forcing us to develop a new set of meta-skills because it can crank out parts with near perfect precision 24x7 and it was back to huge production lines.

That plant the laid off its workers only needs a handful of folks to maintain the robots. It's NOT a one to one transition. It's at least a 10 to 1 DOWNSIZING.

Now those skills are being incorporated into electronics, and we're again looking for new meta skills. It all comes full circle again and again.

Everytime the "circle" goes around LESS labor is needed.

Just where are those workers going to go because other industries are not absorbing them - the employment numbers proves it.

Look at today's big comanies - like Amazon. They have about 30,000 employees.

A couple of decades ago, a company that size would have had a million people of ALL skill levels working there. But automation has made things much more efficient. Cheaper for the rest of us, sure. But what to do with all the displaced workers? Retrain? For what?

All the new big companies only need a fraction of employees needed before.

EVERY industry is doing this. There is no indsutry that is increasing their workforce - none. Even medical is becoming more efficient and (ever so slowly) automating on the lower levels. And there's other changes too.

And that is what get's me about the fetish of policy makers who want manufacturing to come back to the US: it'll be done by robots.

In the 19th century, Western society went from on labor intensive economy (Agriculture) to another (Manufacturing). So, there was opportunity for transistion.

But today, new industries are going straight to automation (or off-shoring), old industries are doing the same, and there's a ever decreasing pool of jobs for people - and as a result, wages are declining in real terms.

Just making straight comparisons with the past and today and strugging off social and economic changes that is hurting the average guy is the wrong analysis and the numbers prove it.

Re:Oh please, Indeed. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852159)

One thing you're forgetting here; someone has to buy the product.

Who?

You can either take out a business loan and setup shop, or your customers can do it for you. Take your pick.

Credit Card Debt is at an all time high, and most people are spending capital on just subsistence stuff. That's it.

There will be change, and it will be painful.

Re: Oh please, Indeed. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852417)

It's not going to be a painful change. It's going to be a fatal refusal to stop going the wrong way on principle.

Re:Oh please, Indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852423)

One thing you're forgetting here; someone has to buy the product.

Demand drops because less people can afford the goods, The price moves up the indifference curve and less goods are produced. Simple. Eventually the economy of scale diminishes, the factory stops being profitable, and it is shuttered, as so many already have been. All the while the gross and net margins for those left playing goes up and they can continue to afford those $200k automobiles, $30k computers, and $10M houses.

I don't see the problem here.

Re:Oh please, Indeed. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852455)

You will, when they turn up at your doorstep screaming for your blood because you're a have.

Re:Oh please, Indeed. (5, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 months ago | (#46852481)

It's not zero sum. After the layoff, the 9 other workers are freed to make something else. At the founding of the nation, something like 80% of the workforce worked in agriculture. Over time, mechanization and improved techniques have lead to the present day fraction of something like 2%. The 78% of the workforce didn't starve to death, they went and did other, more interesting things, and now we have airplanes, computers, movies...

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852171)

The parent speaks of manufacturing.

Our economy is not a manufacturing one anymore. What is left of manufacturing has been off-shored or completely automated. The demand for "meta skills" as the parent says, is but a very small fraction of what the demand was before. And as technology improves, the demand for workers decreases.

Today's economy is services - knowledge workers - and again, all you need is a very small fraction of the people needed before. And that trend is the same: improvements mean less workers. I was watching a guy design and code an inventory system. He was using Visual Studio. To make a long story short, he did in one day what a team of 3 or 4 took a week to do back in the 90s. That's a 75% reduction of workers needed for software development right there. Automation is affecting all workers at all levels; well not the management guys, of course.

There has been a huge structural change in our economy in the last 15 years or so, and it has left quite a few workers -at all levels - in the dust and it isn't growing fast enough to absorb new workers or the ones marginalized in the crash of '08.

To look back on the past, even several decades ago, and take comfort that it will work out as it had before is incorrect and short sighted, IMHO. Things that happen in the past do not always happen again. Technology is the variable that is changing the cycle.

Re:tl;dr (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46852471)

As Richard Wolff [rdwolff.com] often points out in his lectures, [youtube.com] the USA had a constant labor shortage from the 1820s up to the 1970s. The shortage ended in part due to automation, and also because of women's liberation bringing millions more people into the workforce. For that entire period, American workers enjoyed steadily rising wages, but wages have flatlined ever since, despite continually rising productivity.

Re:tl;dr (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#46852089)

America's trade deficit is over $40 billion per month. That is the excess of what we consume over what we produce. In light of that, it is pretty silly to be talking about "over-production".

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852125)

Over-production has just been globalized - to China.

Re:tl;dr (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#46852291)

Over-production has just been globalized - to China.

There are over a billion people living on a dollar a day. Claiming that we have "over production" at the global level is absurd.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852329)

That has nothing to do with overproduction and everything to do with not being of any use to the rest of the world. Subsistence farming is a dead end.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852525)

Collective farms aren't "subsistence farming."

Re:tl;dr (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852405)

Have you read Marx at all? You should. Engels coined the term "reserve army of labour". Marx expanded on that and analyzed unemployment as essential for capitalism to function. Not as a necessary consequence of a productivity increase -- after all, we could just distribute the smaller amount of necessary work more evenly.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852609)

maybe the Marx i read is different from yours.

His point stems precisely form the productivity increases which he reasoned around.

Re:tl;dr (2)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#46852623)

Workers often are not laid off due to actual increase in productivity. They are laid off because a system is rigged to shift to cheaper jobs elsewhere. Take Mexico as an example. Before Mexico was allowed to sign NAFTA they had to institute "land reform" which resulted in 1/3 of rural agricultural workers being made jobless. This surplus labor then ended up in the border towns working for worse wages in horrible environmental conditions and the factories in this region. Since the laor was so cheap this started the process of destroying the American industrial heartland. In addition this desperate poverty leads to the drugs wars and their huge body count, illegal immigration in the US, and huge environmental problems such as heavy metal pollution in the Rio Grande. The situation was artificially produced.

Re:tl;dr (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46852007)

The problem is not over-production, it is that for some odd reason we see production as the goal of economy. Problem is, the goal is not production, it's selling.

The goal is cheaper, cheaper, CHEAPER! We have to produce cheaper. Cheaper than the competitor, and even if there is no competitor, we have to produce cheaper. Not to sell it cheaper, as the market theory would demand, but to increase the profit margin. But hell, even if we WERE selling it cheaper, it would not make a difference. Because whether you sell something for 100 or 50 does not matter if the prospective buyer has NOTHING.

And that's the problem of our economy today. We're not lacking production. Far from it. There is by no means a shortage of anything. Anything but money on the consumer side, that is. We cannot SELL. Because there simply is nobody to BUY. Not that people wouldn't want our crap, if this whole sharing "culture" shows us anything then that there is a damn lot of want. But to turn want into need, money is needed.

The reason for the economic growth from after WW2 to the 80s was simply that people earned pretty well. Even and especially "unskilled" labor was relatively well paid and people could afford to spend. People even continued to spend after they could not really afford it anymore 'cause their wages didn't keep up with inflation. They borrowed, refinanced, maxed out credit cards... the economy only noticed that things go wrong after that, too, hit the limit.

And now we're in the shit creek we're in, because even if we started to pay people handsomely, it would take years to even notice since they now first of all would have to pay back their debt. You'd have to recover two decades of overspending, most likely with at least two decades of overearning. And it's very, very unlikely that anyone would want to make that "investment" just to get something as unimportant as the economy back on track.

Re:tl;dr (1)

udippel (562132) | about 7 months ago | (#46852177)

The problem is not over-production, it is that for some odd reason we see production as the goal of economy. Problem is, the goal is not production, it's selling.

This is the best of the statements in your post, and Insightful as such.
Over-production is actually an empty term, when not seen in conjunction with the rest of the market. The key term here is demand. And what would better be taken into consideration is the term of over-supply. We actually suffer from over-supply. Just drive to your next friendly supermarket, be it in LA, Nairobi, Moscow or Madrid. The shelves are bursting with merchandise. Much more than you can ever consume.Therefore, the value of each item goes down, and implicitly the potential / possible salary for everyone involved in the chain from development / design over manufacturing to distribution.

Re:tl;dr (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46852351)

Right now, the big scare is that we're running into a deflation. No, really. DEflation. Not INflation. Now, considering how bad inflation is (allegedly), deflation must be good, right? Wrong! It's even more feared than inflation.

Inflation only means that your money gets less valuable. That can be remedied: Simply stop printing money and jack up interest rates. Of course, that's easier said than done, but at least you can in theory do something against it. Deflation is not so easily cured.

The core problem is that inflation can actually be beneficial for an economy, since it tempts to consumption. If your money is worth less tomorrow than it is today, you better spend it now rather than later. With inflation, people free money into tangible goods, even if they're perishable and not lasting, because even as perishables they're more lasting than money. Deflation causes the opposite. The longer you hold money, the better for you since tomorrow it's going to buy more than it does today.

I don't think it needs too much of an explanation why this is poison to any economy.

Now, there are quite a few possible causes for deflation, and a few regulatory instruments that can cure it. In our case, though, there would not be such an instrument. If we really reach the deflation level, we're fucked for good. Game over.

One possible reason for Deflation is a shortage of money, plain and simple. If there's a shortage of something, it gets more valuable. The easy solution to this is running the printing press. Now, we've tried that and it only made matters worse, because now we have some kind of inflation without eliminating the looming deflation. Mostly because there was no shortage of money.

Another reason is that the goods available are simply not attractive and people rather hold onto their money than buying what's offered. The cynic in me would say that's dead on, but no. That was the case in the former east bloc occasionally (which actually had a rather curious mix of insane shortages and buttloads of crap nobody wanted), and their money experienced an odd "official" deflation with a rampart "black market" inflation. Not really the case here now either, people would buy.

The reason for this deflation is actually a shortage of money, but a shortage of money per person. Money is available, but it is pooled. Which is great for investment, but very bad for consumption.

And we really have NO shortage of investment money. People would love to invest. If you needed any proof of this, the issue of Greek bonds that sold like hotcakes (despite Greece's credit history and its near bankruptcy) just because of the guarantees the EU gave for them is an indicator. They offered just over 5% interest and were fiercely contested. There is plenty of investment money sitting around, desperately looking for an investment opportunity.

What is missing, and what makes this looming deflation so dangerous, is the lack of consumption money. Deflation is always an indicator of low money velocity. Now, the reason is this time not that people cling to their money and that they don't want to spend it, the reason is simply that they have NO money to spend. Worse, they are in debt. And just like savings, debt also increases with deflation, which would make the whole shit even worse since climbing out of the hole gets more and more difficult.

What makes this situation so very dangerous is that governments cannot really remedy it. There is very, very little a government could do to regulate it. Their main regulation instruments for inflation, i.e. money printing press and interest rate, fizzle in such an environment. Running the printing press still requires some means to distribute that money, and there is very little you could do that makes that money end up in the hands of people who could spend it and thus cure the demand side problem. People would not, could not, spend it. They have a debt to take care of. That money you print would instantly be guzzled away in those debt holes people are in and land on the huge investment money heap, making the problem even worse. And lowering interest rates is pretty much out of the question either since we ARE already at the point where the next step would be that you actually have to pay people money for them to take a loan from you.

There is no solution to this situation that I could think of. IMO, we're fucked. Game over, pack your stuff, start growing some veggies in your back yard and hope that you survive the impending fallout.

Re:tl;dr (2)

udippel (562132) | about 7 months ago | (#46852467)

There is no solution to this situation that I could think of. IMO, we're fucked. Game over, pack your stuff, start growing some veggies in your back yard and hope that you survive the impending fallout.

I wouldn't be that negative, though.
While in the currently fashionable economic theories a proper countermeasure is lacking, there is no good reason to preclude its existence. Once we are screwed, we will refocus our interests and research on the topic; leaving marketing research behind, because it won't help us any longer.
What troubles me more, is the need of the individual to participate, to understand, to react and eventually to lower their expectations on impending richness.

Re:tl;dr (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46852511)

There is plenty of investment money sitting around, desperately looking for an investment opportunity.

Almost. It's pathetically waiting for an investment opportunity, instead of creating one. Granted, creating one is made ridiculously difficult in this country.

What makes this situation so very dangerous is that governments cannot really remedy it.

Sure they can. They can unfuck taxation such that it comes from the pockets of those with money, and then they can spend the money on public works, raising employment and actually improving infrastructure, making it easier to make money. Done and done. Problem is, they're not going to do either of those things unless forced, let alone both.

Re:tl;dr (4, Interesting)

complete loony (663508) | about 7 months ago | (#46852705)

We've given the power of the printing press to bank managers. They lend money that doesn't exist through the magic of double entry book keeping. We spend it to keep the economy going. And then we have to pay it back with interest. Except we aren't paying it back, we keep borrowing more.

During the 2007-2010 crisis, I was worried about deflation. It should have been worse than the aftermath of the 1929 crash. But it didn't quite happen. This time around it wasn't just businesses leveraged up to their eyeballs. When a business has to find cash to pay back their loans, they can slash prices on inventory, sell what they've got without ordering more and cut staff. All of this leads to a massive reduction in income, without managing to reduce debts much at all. In fact, since incomes fell so drastically, attempting to pay off debts caused them to rise.

While all those things did happen, this time around it was households holding a significant fraction of the debt. What is an individual going to do? Stop eating? Stop needing a roof over their heads?

Plus this time, we've managed to get everyone borrowing again. So the economy is back on track and heading upwards. We've recovered better than they did in the early 1930's. Here in Australia we managed to avoid a technical recession completely. Our PM at the time did everything he could to get spending money into the hands of every day people. He didn't give a cent directly to the banks, he didn't need to.

But we're not out of the woods, not by a long shot. Our mountain of debt is still there. On the average day in the 1930's the stock market was climbing, things were getting better. But then there was another crash. And the long term trend was still downwards. It was only with the outbreak of war and a massive spending spree on the part of the US gov, that debts finally reduced to sane levels.

History doesn't repeat exactly, but it certainly does rhyme. We're going to hit another crisis. The total debt level of the economy is too high for it to be otherwise. Some group of people out there are holding onto a lot of debt and are technically insolvent. At some point their creditors are going to notice and the whole stack of cards is going to tumble again. Who's it going to be? No idea.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852499)

All that stuff on the shelves in your supermarket will be gone by the end of the week, you just never see it because it's replenished exactly fast enough to keep the shelves fully stocked. Aside from the raw plant and animal material, everything is neither over-supplied nor under-supplied, it is just-in-time produced over a scale of about a week or two. Every supermarket has a computer system (usually an IBM computer system, but that's not important), that tracks everything sold and everything written-off (spoiled, stolen, etc) and places an order with their distributor for replenishment, who in turn places orders with the various factories to produce exactly enough to refill their storage.

Nearly everything on the shelves of your supermarket didn't exist a month ago, and will be sold a week from now.

Of course the supermarket is squeezing their distributors who are squeezing the factories that supply them, but they don't want to see their suppliers go out of business, they just want to minimize their profits so they can keep a larger share of the retail price. You're right that the constant squeeze inevitably forces people out of work, but neither over-production nor under-production happens with any regularity. Under production leaves money on the table, and over-production is senseless, resulting in expenses without any revenue.

Having the shelves fully stocked only has an effect on overall production, in the sense that, if they ran out of some item, that loses potential sales. Everything on the shelves will in turn be sold, proving there was in fact demand for it. If it sits there until expiry and has to be thrown out, then less of the product will be ordered in future, manifested by the procurement manager reducing the stocking quantities.

The food might well be wasted after sale, say it was bought by some less than rational person, who bought more than they could consume and left it to waste, but that's beside the point.

perfecthackers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852185)

has been the domain of the rich. This is because sharing was moderated by expensive middle men. If you own a castle in Britain, you are likely to regularly share some of the rooms perfecthacks/a> (short-term renting them out through an expensive agency). But it wasn't easy to rent out that extra room or your basement in your three bedroom suburban house, because there was no affordable way to efficiently access that market (the market structure was very thin for short term renting). [blogspot.com]

Now the rest of us can partake in the sharing economy, agency costs have dropped dramatically for the stuff that the rest of us own.

Re:tl;dr (3, Interesting)

aix tom (902140) | about 7 months ago | (#46852209)

The debt in "real money" can also fuel the sharing economy. When you have a negative amount of "government credit units", but can get into a sharing community that issues it's own "sharing credit units" so you can start of with a clean slate there. And perhaps even get more return value out of it than with the "official economy" Which might be the only way left to influence the economical direction.

Since elections don't seem to work any more to change the political direction, the only working answer to "we don't want you to participate as labour in our system because you are to expensive" is a "then we don't want to participate as consumers in your system any longer neither."

Re:tl;dr (-1, Troll)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 7 months ago | (#46852277)

The problem is not over-production, it is that for some odd reason we see production as the goal of economy. Problem is, the goal is not production, it's selling.

No, the goal of an economy is to sort out who gets what scarce resources. That involves both producing the resources and selling them, though the selling part is optional. For example, if you build a computer, you didn't sell anything, meanwhile you have produced (the whole product is worth more than the sum of its parts, generally speaking. E.g. a graphics card is somewhat worthless unless it is inside of a working computer.)

The goal is cheaper, cheaper, CHEAPER! We have to produce cheaper. Cheaper than the competitor, and even if there is no competitor, we have to produce cheaper. Not to sell it cheaper, as the market theory would demand, but to increase the profit margin. But hell, even if we WERE selling it cheaper, it would not make a difference. Because whether you sell something for 100 or 50 does not matter if the prospective buyer has NOTHING.

That hasn't always been the case, and it still isn't in certain cases. Lean manufacturing is where the concept of cheaper being better largely comes from (it also simultaneously results in a more reliable product in most cases...there's the stereotype of "things just aren't made the way they used to be" but that largely isn't true...today we often throw out or sell perfectly good things, not because they break, but because we want to replace it with the latest and greatest. Concepts like six sigma and ISO9000 didn't exist in the 60's.)

Cheap simultaneously means the poor have greater purchasing power, which means they become weathier without the need for higher income.

However not all products are defined by how much bang for your buck they are, rather they are defined by their sticker price and strict distribution controls to prevent underselling. Such products are e.g. anything Apple sells, certain luxury cars, Bose speakers, certain high-fashion clothing, etc. Products like these are where "cheap" is generally thrown out the window. And you know what? This is the way things always have been for items that traditionally rich people buy. Once upon a time, for example, only really rich people had cars. This model started to end in the early 1800's, and it's what the Luddites were making a fit over: Now that the poor could have access to high quality goods, it suddenly made being an artisan not as lucrative as it once was. But, there still is room for luddites in niche markets, like paintings, pottery, etc.

It is a fact that the worlds poorest are now wealthier than they've ever been. That doesn't mean that they have more money, but things like world hunger have largely ended (still exists in a few pockets of areas, but that is mainly due to politics rather than economics in those cases) and quote-unquote "nice things" are much easier to afford. A common example I like to make is to compare the 80's with today...Remember how only the filthy rich could have 50" TVs, car phones, personal computers, and laser disc players? Now even the poor have much better TVs than the ones rich had in the 80's, cell phones that aren't tied to a car and have unlimited talk time for a flat rate, and blu-ray players, and I've seen more than one homeless person walking around with a working laptop. Used to be the homeless were lucky if they eat more than one meal in a day; now they're often overweight.

Today's poor make the rich of the 30's look like paupers, and the middle class of the 80's look like welfare recipients. I'm tired of this rhetoric of the occupy types who make a stink about being poor just because the goalpost for "poor" keeps moving higher and higher on some spreadsheet, meanwhile they ask for "fixes" that will just end up making things worse.

Re:tl;dr (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 7 months ago | (#46852603)

I'm tired of this rhetoric of the occupy types who make a stink about being poor just because the goalpost for "poor" keeps moving higher and higher on some spreadsheet, meanwhile they ask for "fixes" that will just end up making things worse.

I love most of your post, but I have a partial disagreement in this last part. People want to feel useful while getting treated fairly. Two things required for this is having a job and being fairly paid. Even if we had a society where no one had to work, people would not be happy unless they were able to do something that made themselves feel "useful".

These "occupy" people may still be better off than people from the past, but they they are still having a basic human need denied, and that's a fair system where they can be a useful and appreciated member.

Re:tl;dr (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46852053)

The only economically sustainable solution is to have a labor force that matches labor requirements. What Marx didn't foresee was the tremendous medical advances the world has seen in the past 100 years, allowing unsustainable population growth while the need to unskilled labor declines. No amount of sharing, unionization, or wealth transfer will help when there are billions of people with no demand for their labor.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852149)

Population is peaking. See Hans Rosling.

Re:tl;dr (1)

udippel (562132) | about 7 months ago | (#46852189)

The only economically sustainable solution is to have a labor force that matches labor requirements.

Quite so. But that is no more than day-dreaming. Because the labor requirement is going down rapidly, due to productivity increases. AND the labor force [us] is NOT desirous to earn less.
Combine this with the desire of the labor force [us] to own ever more for ever cheaper, you know where the actual culprit is located. Yep, in the end it is the consumer who wants ever more for ever cheaper with her hat of consumer; and demands ever more salary with her hat as member of the labor force.
If this is not a vicious circle, then there isn't.

Re:tl;dr (5, Insightful)

orasio (188021) | about 7 months ago | (#46852363)

The only economically sustainable solution is to have a labor force that matches labor requirements. What Marx didn't foresee was the tremendous medical advances the world has seen in the past 100 years, allowing unsustainable population growth while the need to unskilled labor declines. No amount of sharing, unionization, or wealth transfer will help when there are billions of people with no demand for their labor.

Don't let ideology blind you. People don't need jobs.
People need food, shelter, medical care, and several other things. Jobs is one of the ways you can get those.
If there _are_ enough resources for everybody, probably we can come up with way to distribute them effectively, even one that doesn't need busywork. It's not an easy problem, but seems solvable.

Re:tl;dr (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852133)

You mean increased efficiency needs fewer unskilled workers to do the same job? What insight! What a towering intellect! What the fuck!

Except the majority aren't in poverty and the usual Marxist solution of killing millions and millions of people really isn't helpful or even effective. And no I don't care what class, gender or race you pick as the surplus population to blame this time.

We're in a period of transition to a post scarcity society, in many ways we're nearly there already, much of western Europe has reasonably strong social safety nets, but these social advances have happened in spite of the howling wee man syndrome of the hard left, not because of it. Please go away and learn how to play nice with the other kids. If you can't convince people to vote for your nutty religion, maybe you should ponder why that is.

Re:tl;dr (3, Insightful)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 7 months ago | (#46852255)

And Smith was right in that there is no such thing as "overproduction." Produce more of a valued good, and the market reacts by lowering the price, opening up more uses for the good. It's a story not just as old as human trade, but as old as life in Earth. When early plants feasted on the carbon dioxide that filled our atmosphere and produced oxygen, a "market" came into being for species that could consume oxygen.

Re:tl;dr (3, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#46852317)

over production?

Over production of what? I swear, people say things without actually engaging their brains. They just repeat things like walking tape recorders or human/parrot hybrids.

The economic downturn was largely a result of corruption in our banking and political system that lead to the rapid issuing of credit for things people couldn't really afford especially to people that really shouldn't be in the market. This lead to a price inflation which caused people that normally wouldn't have a hard time affording things to go into greater debt simply to keep up. And when the whole thing collapsed, the value of all the homes went down but the debt stayed right where it was... this caused a contraction of spending... etc etc etc.

Nothing what so ever to do with over production unless you mean an over production of morons and corrupt assholes.

Marx doubtless said a lot of things that made sense... but economics is more complicated then any one man and the scope of human history is not going to be summed up by das capital.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852661)

> when the whole thing collapsed, the value of
> all the homes went down but the debt stayed
> right where it was

Yeah, things can lose value. Debt doesn't.

Who says? Why, the police and the banks and the tenth of one percent who own most of the debt.

That's why the tenth of one percent want to own debt. It's not perishable.

Sharing is common outside the west (5, Informative)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 7 months ago | (#46851867)

In many countries in the world it's quite common for people to share stuff like taxi services and rooms and has been for decades. In many of these places the crime rate is far higher than in the United States. The huge contrast between the amount of distrust people seem to have for each other in America and the actual rate of crime (which is quite low and has been decreasing for decades) is pretty astounding.

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#46851909)

It's the entropy-conscious behavior. The one thing you wouldn't be able to replace with money even if you had unlimited amounts of money.

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851927)

Crime rate and 'perceived' crime rate are two things that vary wildly here in the US.... Crime rates for pretty much everything other than pot and stealing people's houses b/c you get away with it as a bank... are down, but that doesn't mean people 'feel' safe, b/c they still see 'crime on the news' and... So I would have to wonder how much perceived crime rate has gone down. Plus we have some "news" channels (not to name Fox's name, because that would be mean(Yeah... I'm on one of those moods... where I just don't care at this time of night...)) that leans one direction and has been proven by media matters to skew news based on racial bias, which then in turn doesn't help things....

Its a complicated topic, but basically race has a lot to do with how others 'perceive' dangerous people around you (I've read a study on this like 15 years ago, but none recently) Also, you're gender/religion/background (basically everything), but most importantly: the avg. race/avg.income of the area you are in, determines people's comfort levels.

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (5, Interesting)

guises (2423402) | about 7 months ago | (#46851939)

You seem to be lending credence to the hypothesis in the article: the less affluent you are, the more chances you're forced to take in order to get by.

Anecdotally, I've had a number of friends who had to go this route with AirBNB. All of them love the money, none of them love the strangers in their apartments. (Though it isn't all bad - they're generally nice people.)

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about 7 months ago | (#46852135)

Sharing is and even more was also very common in the West (from a European point of view). However, that deteriorated over the past decades (starting in the 1970ies). Now we at an all time low. And as wealth is generally decreasing,sharing start to become interesting again. Furthermore, capitalism is no longer that popular.

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46852187)

sharing start to become interesting again. Furthermore, capitalism is no longer that popular.

Interesting, in that "sharing" your apartment (for instance) for a weekend for a fee IS capitalism - your capital (that apartment/house/whatever) making you money.

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (4, Insightful)

prefec2 (875483) | about 7 months ago | (#46852319)

I know this is crazy, but you could share your apartment with one for free. And hope to get offered the same when visiting some place. This is called altruism and happened very often in the "distant" past.

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (1)

udachny (2454394) | about 7 months ago | (#46852665)

Right, but if you advertise your place as being 'shared for free', you'll not have any lack of takers, who will mooch off of you for as long as you do this. By putting a price on it you both, put a priority on the people that you are sharing with and your guest shares on your costs of running that apartment (or did you think that taxes and mortgage and utilities and insurance pay for themselves?)

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (1)

udippel (562132) | about 7 months ago | (#46852197)

Furthermore, capitalism is no longer that popular.

How I wished you were right!

Re:Sharing is common outside the west (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 7 months ago | (#46852343)

First, the unpopularity is not evenly distributed in all classes of society. Second, a lot of people defend capitalism, because they mistake it for market economy. Third, a large person think capitalism is freedom and any change is dictatorship, like Russia. They confuse economic system and political system. Communism and democracy could be combined (in theory), where all goods belong to everyone. And we all decide over its use. I personally doubt that such concept would work. Other concepts have worked in the past and present which have different states of ownerships.

Still. Those who control the states in Western country are in favor of the present economy. We all life in an oligarchy, just like the Russians and Ukrainians. The major difference, we have to freedom of speech and they do not. However, we are ignored, while they get all the attention of the state.

Insecurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851889)

This sort of thing just screams insecurity. That is, if people are resorting to these things out of desperation for money, we should be focusing more on a better safety net.

Personally, I'd advocate a negative income tax. I'd even settle for some sort of citizen's basic income. But, I'd prefer a negative income tax that slides as one's income nears the poverty level thereby creating an incentive to work still.

Anyone else have any solutions or ideas?

Re:Insecurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852003)

Land value tax and basic income.

Add citizen's juries to government, and you've solved most of the problems.

Re:Insecurity (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46852025)

Yeah, but it's not really a popular one 'cause it would increase salaries considerably, and as we all know that's anathema to the powers that are.

Re:Insecurity (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46852597)

Yeah, but it's not really a popular one 'cause it would increase salaries considerably, and as we all know that's anathema to the powers that are.

Two words: Land grab. Them powers have managed to take ownership of the vast majority of the country. What ain't owned by the federal government (bureau of land management, military bases, this and that other area) is owned by the banks. Individuals who are not endemically wealthy hold a minuscule slice of the territory today.

Oh noes, it's only been one minute since I last posted a comment. I couldn't possibly have anything useful to say in one minute, after speed-reading a chain of comments between the last one I replied to, and this one. Throttling comment posting rates ensures you will get two or three kinds of comments, and not all of them are good ones.

Now it's only been two minutes. Fuck, the comments I can write in two minutes.

Three minutes. THREE! HA HA HA.

Re:Insecurity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852051)

"I'd even settle for some sort of citizen's basic income. But, I'd prefer a negative income tax that slides as one's income nears the poverty level"

Are you kidding? This is exactly what we have now. EITC. Welfare. Food stamps. Medicaid.

Income redistribution.

Been this way for years and years,

Now what you have to understand is that in a collectivist society, when the state sets a minimum for something (income, healthcare, housing...) eventually this minimum becomes the standard that all in society end up getting, all that is save for the elites who end up with the vast majority of the resources. If you don't already see this trend in action right now I cannot help you.

You have only to open your eyes.

Here is a change I would like to see. If you do not work you do not fuciking eat. Now that would be a wonderful world. Think of the massive increase in productivity that would occur, the immediate rise in living standards that a rise in productivity would bring, the immediate lowering of the incomes of the rich and the powerful when their fortunes are suddenly tied directly to their ability to produce (how much food do you think a John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi or a Barack Obama would be able to earn for themselves huh? They would starve within weeks no doubt.)

But yea, your whole plan of giving people free shit to get them to vote Democrat is just a great idea.

Re:Insecurity (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 7 months ago | (#46852441)

So why isn't Somalia a utopian paradise?

Re:Insecurity (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about 7 months ago | (#46852165)

A negative income tax would either require higher taxes for the middle class, which would result in no impact or a minimal impact on the economy at large, as money is transferred between those who have not much to those who have nothing. Or you have to tax the rich resulting in a transfer from savings to the poor who spend it. This would have a positive effect on the economy, increasing jobs (for short), and increase inflation (a bit), however this would not find the approval of your oligarchic overlords in the US. And raising taxes for the middle class would be used in "elections" to destroy an opponent in an election. Therefore, both options will not happen.

Maybe it is neither (2, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | about 7 months ago | (#46851919)

It may well be that 'sharing economy' is just a manifestation of a deeper problem, the inability of the drivers of development in the past century -- capitalism and democracy -- to cope with the problems the modern world is facing.

The world needs a new political and economic systems that can tackle the problems we're facing, and tackle them efficiently and in a way that makes sense both locally and globally. It is most likely that these will evolve out of what we already have with the experience and frustrations we gain from trial-and-error experiments like the sharing economy, free online education and whatnot.

Re:Maybe it is neither (2)

ElBeano (570883) | about 7 months ago | (#46851949)

It may well be that 'sharing economy' is just a manifestation of a deeper problem, the inability of the drivers of development in the past century -- capitalism and democracy -- to cope with the problems the modern world is facing.

They're coping just fine, they're just not sharing. They'd rather put it in offshore taxshelters.

Re:Maybe it is neither (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about 7 months ago | (#46852095)

What we're witness to in the present is not coping, it is a transition. Productivity has increased massively, to the point where employers can lay off huge chunks of their work force and still churn out the same amount of widgets. This works while other employers have still not done so, thereby ensuring that a majority of the work force is still employed.

But what happens when all of industry arrives at the ~100% automation point, the point where all the employees left are the ones with a CxO title? Laying off workers is the sound economic decision in the short term, but if everyone is doing it, and your customers are basically other companies' employees, what then? You can hide all your ill gotten gains in tax shelters all you want it won't matter.

I think OP is right, we do need a new system from the ground up, and I think it will come about either through foresightedness or through necessity (violence perhaps, I hope not), because the current economic and political models aren't near good enough. And smart .01%'ers will realize this before its too late, because their fortunes will most likely be worth exactly jack shit when a new society emerges to deal with the problems their caste has created.

Re:Maybe it is neither (2)

furytrader (1512517) | about 7 months ago | (#46852243)

I will start worrying when all human needs are being met 100% of the time. Until then, there is room for innovation and there will be opportunity.

Re:Maybe it is neither (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 7 months ago | (#46852457)

Smart .01%'ers are already realizing it, they can see what's coming. I even once agrressively overheard some Albertan oil zillionaires talking about what a great idea mincome is for preventing unrest.

Re:Maybe it is neither (1)

JMandingo (325160) | about 7 months ago | (#46852567)

This is just my theory, but I believe the sudden relaxation of marijuana laws globally is a result of the .01%'ers starting to get worried. The rabble are rousing, we must unleash the opiates for the masses!

Re:Maybe it is neither (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852577)

While it is true that the mega-wealthy are hoarding money, unable to spend it fast/wisely enough. They are also spending tremendous amounts of money on their pet hobbies. Elon Musk -> SpaceX, Bill Gates -> disease research, Jeff Bezos -> Asteroid mining, Richard Branson -> Virgin Galactic, etc.

The problem is the lords of our new feudal society have an iron mentality that even their pet hobbies have a financial payoff. Everything they do has to further aggregate the wealth among the few.

This has been a problem at some times in history, and at other times the concentration of wealth by the winners has been balanced out by the total loss of wealth by the losers.

Of course the total wealth of the civilisation (by now we surely only have one, even if we are multiple in nation) continues to increase, but that is of no consolation to the increasing numbers of losers who have been excluded from the wealth.

It would be wise as an individual to specialise in the hobbies of our feudal lords, as those who keep close to the wealth will surely become wealthy themselves, but this is no solution for society as a whole, as the demand for labor is not sufficient for the demand for jobs.

I agree. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852039)

Things are going to have to get very bad for change though. The forces for the status quo are way too strong and powerful.

Even I, a peon getting screwed over by the system, is a bit scared of it - eliminate democracy? Whoah!

Anyway, when things change too radically, extrememly bad things happen - like Hitler, Stalin, Castro, ...

Capitalism works fine within the norrow confines of economic activity and with plenty government checks. Nineteenth century USA business history is a great example of Laissez-Faire capitalism and what a disaster it was environmentally, economically, politically and socially. Even the US Right's patron saint, Adam Smith, warned about the dangers Capitalism - something that's been forgotten or ignored.

But as the World becomes ever more populated and natural resources become even more stretchly thinned, something is gonna break.

The Free Markets are thrown around as a pancea for the World's woes, but tell a couple of billion cold, starving, thirsty people that they just need to cough the money and work harder and they too can have what they need. I don't know, I just think Roman Empire and barbarians invading.

But like I said above, unless there is a catastrophy we won't change. The status quo - the economic bullies - have got theirs and they are not going to let it go. Their primitive and shallow desires are dragging us all down. Their desire to leave legacies to their offspring has them getting their bitches in legisaltures to allow for generational accumulation of wealth - aristocracies - and we all know what happens with that: revolution and mass death.

My fellow peons who stick up for the economic bullies will stand behind them - out of aspiration, fear of change or because of human nature to identify with one's abuser (I think that's why so many Right Wingers stand up for the Koch's and other businessmen who harm their economic interests.)

Re:Maybe it is neither (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852077)

"the inability of the drivers of development in the past century -- capitalism and democracy"

Wait a minute, what? Where exactly is this "capitalism" you are talking about? The barter economy (sharing? WTF?) is about the best example of the free market that exists, very little of the worlds on the books economic systems represent true free markets anymore.

You cannot say that capitalism has failed (capitalism is a shitty term, what you really mean is free market) because it doesn't exist. Whenever there is a state power that sees a potential to gain power and money by restricting or interfering with free trade it ALWAYS does so - this is the problem. It is when you get the state out of the way that the market and the people succeed.

What you are speaking of when you say capitalism is really crony capitalism, that is corruption, collusion between the powerful in private industry and the state; this is not the free market but is in fact the exact opposite of the free market.

You cannot solve problems until at the very least you truly understand what they are. And remember, the goal of the statist is to continue in his position of power as long as possible, he stays there only as long as the people do not see how they are being enslaved and tyrannized, so decieving them as to the true nature of thier positions is necessary. It seems to me they have been fabulously successful at this!

Start back at the begining here, tell me where is this 'capitalism' this truly free market that exists? You cannot. The start to peel back the onion citizen, use your brain, use reason. Open your eyes and start to see the chains that are in reality on you.

Re:Maybe it is neither (0)

siddesu (698447) | about 7 months ago | (#46852621)

Capitalism is the organization of the economy in every place where you can own capital and use it more or less freely to do business and turn a profit. Depending on the structure of the political system in which a particular capitalist economy is operating there may be serious problems, including corruption, but it is still capitalism.

"Free market" is an altogether different and not very useful concept. I avoid using it and prefer instead to categorize specific markets by the degree of competition they allow and the effects this has on the factors of production, prices and market organization.

Re:Maybe it is neither (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852673)

"where you can own capital and use it more or less freely to do business and turn a profit"

These are two different things, property ownership is necessary to any free society and required to support a free market, and yes capitalism rests on the foundation of property ownership, but that does not describe what it is. to do business and turn a profit' I don't even know what this means. Do business, this just means transactions does it not? Turn a profit, ok fine, nice goal. One eats, one poops, but you really haven't said anything.

'"Free market" is an altogether different and not very useful concept.'

How so? The free market simply means that the buyer and seller are free to determine the price of a product or service among themselves. This is the best of all possible economies in which case the buyer, seller and producer all are able to get the best price in a transaction. Some degree of regulation is required to preserve the 'freedom' which as you can see is never truly free, but can only be approached. But in the end when the buyer and seller are left alone is when the tru value of a product or service is really allowed to rule.

Capitalism and the free market are not the same. Check.

It really does not matter why...... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851921)

.....as long as it works. Yes, its only after a big frekkin financial crisis and the recession in its wake that people start looking desperately for alternative models, but that doesn't mean the model is not valid beyond that. It is a well known fact of historical process that the origin of a cultural tradition and its maintenance may occur for different reasons; one may begin the sharing economy experiment out of sheer financial desperation and later find it to have other benefits. Most of all, I find this artificial boundary between 'sharing economy' and 'real economy' to be utter BS.
 
  This article smells like another trite argument for Homo Economicus from someone whose economic opinions have been mass produced from a mold during the industrial revolution.

Re:It really does not matter why...... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46852045)

Any business model that is forged out of desperation rather than want and need is doomed to fail in the long run.

There are businesses that exist because they're beneficial for both parties. They are usually very long lasting because both parties have an interest to continue. As soon as you force one party into the contract, they will start looking left and right for alternatives and for ways out of it. Eventually people forced into such a situation will even out of spite try to get out, even if that means an economic disadvantage that is at least survivable.

For reference, see pretty much any adhesion contract in history.

Wait you mean (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851925)

Do you mean to say people do things for money? And even that cheaper comparable services supplant more expensive ones, oh crap it's almost like capitalism! Better break out the beatin sticks, can't have none of that.

Money isn't always involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851931)

There are services which focus on actual sharing, not short-term renting. For example Couchsurfing [couchsurfing.org] or HospitalityClub [hospitalityclub.org] .

Re:Money isn't always involved (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 months ago | (#46852425)

HospitalityClub has been moribund for a good six years now. The founder no longer develops the site, it is overrun with spammers and dead profiles.

Couchsurfing was run by a collective of friends that once sought non-profit status, but when they realized that meant giving up control, the founder sold the company to a venture capitalist firm who is now looking at ways to monetize it, so it might not stay free for long. One of its competitors who went the same route ultimately became an apartment rentals service. Plus, it has been a problem for years that many active hosts on CS are interested only in sharing sex -- you get a positive reply to your request only if you are an attractive young female travelling alone.

There are hospitality exchange communities that are really based on an idealism that opening one's home to travelers at no cost and intercultural exchange are good, but HC and CS are no longer good examples.

Supply and Demand and Opportunity (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 7 months ago | (#46851941)

Sure, there is obviously a supply and demand effect when the economy no longer supports six figure college loan repayments. But to say that is the "cause" ignores that it was impossible to do 20 years ago. Advertising was at one point a huge barrier to entry for bed and breakfast type industries, people had to be aware of your product and had to trust someone with no brand awareness. Now it's simply easy to advertise your couch, ability, etc., and easy to set up a rating system.

As evidence, look at the growth of ebay when the economy was incredibly strong. The reasoning in the article is that "the economy is weak, therefore people sell used items on ebay." May or may not be true but does not explain growth of peer to peer economies.

Trust vs Desperation... (4, Insightful)

bayankaran (446245) | about 7 months ago | (#46851963)

True, its about desperation, not necessarily an extra layer of 'internet trust'.
The US is unique in developed economies - luxuries are cheap...big screen TV, a car and so on. But necessities are expensive...healthcare, decent education, and to an extent housing.

Re:Trust vs Desperation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852279)

Necessities in the US are heavily regulated. Luxuries - not so much.

Cars are getting more expensive as companies have to make more money off of fuel efficient compact cars to make up for not being able to sell as many gas guzzlers.

TVs, however, are getting cheaper all the time.

Re:Trust vs Desperation... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 months ago | (#46852297)

In short it is a problem of eroding middle class.
If you are poor, then you can get government assistance for food, heat, healthcare, and even housing support.

If you are rich, you convince the government not to tax you on many of the things used to create your wealth.

Which leaves the middle class who is shrinking to take on the burden.
We make too much get subsidies, but we also not make enough to really take advantage of the breaks.

So lets take a average family house hold of 90k a year for 3 people. That sounds like a solid middle class number, in some locations it would be upper middle class.

So after taxes per month they get about 4.5k.
2k goes to their home mortgage.
1k will go towards grocery/cleaning supplies (food has gotten expensive)
0.5k will go towards fuel for 2 cars.
0.5k goes to power/telephone/internet/TV

This leaves roughly $500 per month. Now if they have to make care payments and/or school loans they add up too. Meaning this middle class family is just getting by. Sure there are areas where they can cut. but with a family of three, it will be difficult as every person tends to have different ideas where to cut.

A lot of the Luxury stuff. TV, Video Games, Computers... You save up and buy. However the problem today that is really affecting the middle class are the cost of living. Now once the mortgage is payed off then you can start having an advantage. But before that you are struggling. This is also the time in your life where you have the energy and need to bring up a family.

As far as a solution I see the government needs to do the following.
1. Insure Food/Fuel prices remain low. This will mean we need to adjust for global warming, Encourage growth to the new more fertile lands and away from the new dangerous risky places (Sorry California). Invest into alternative energy to make it price competitive with fossil fuels. The extra competition will reduce demand for fuel thus bring down prices further, so those who need the fossil fuels can have it at a better rate, as well those who don't need it will have cheap greener alternatives. There is also a need to encourage the populations tastes, towards healthy foods, that are more sustainable and cheaper to produce. Poultry vs. Red Meet, Native to North America/that can grow in the wild without much help Fruits and Vegetables. If we can convince a good part of the population to vote Tea Party even if it is against their own interests, why is it so hard to get people to eat food that it is towards their own self interest.

2. Mixed Class Neighborhoods. Right now people are stuck on the value of their homes and make communities where the rich live one place, and poor live somewhere else. This is what keeps housing from being affordable. As new housing developments will try to attract "Better People" as to raise the areas property values. Thus making low income housing in decaying areas of the communities. When they build a new housing developments they need to be required to properly house the general population. A few low income homes, a few High End homes, and a bulk of middle class, and have them mixed. The problem we have today. The Rich do not understand or have emotionally forgotten what it is like to be poor. The Poor doesn't understand or have any roll models on how to advance up. The middle class is stuck with attributes of both. Mixed communities overall will be much more positive. Yes these poor people will lower the property values... But that means people will be getting nicer homes for less, and I expect with the poor people living in nicer neighborhoods, they will not bring it down that much, as they will work to keep their area presentable just to not look like the local poor person.

3. Reduce taxes and government spending and regulations. Well lets refine this, we need to do this in the right areas. There are a lot of laws towards individual safety vs. Public safety. We are able to successfully sue people and companies for a range of stuff. The public in general is afraid to take risks because the legal system seems like it is against them. We are paying for taxes into a lot of things that isn't useful, but just sounds nice on paper. This bill is to help the poor, however in order for the poor to signup for this, they need to hire an army of lawyers to figure out how to get it. A lot of measures to try to prevent abuse, that takes up more money then the abuse actually costs. If someone wants to start a business in america it should be extremely easy, if they fail they fail and they can start over. We need to make sure our laws and regulation support the people willing to take risks and try new things. However right now they have been manipulated towards people who do things the old way.

DUH MAH !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851983)

Do you know where MAH plane is? I seem to have lost MAH plane. I'd tell you were MAH plane was last but I don't know where MAH plane was last. Won't you help me find MAH plane? C'mon! It's not like you got anything else to do but to find MAH plane. Won't you help find MAH plane.

When I ask why the poor have no food (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46851993)

It couldn't possibly be due from a massive market failure to meet reasonable expectations of service and cost, aided and abetted by regulation could it? Naaw.

The sharing economy could more broadly be defined as everything from bit torrent ("how could these people be giving away their data and bandwidth away for free? Don't they know how much more they could make restricting access like the RIAA does by simply providing counterfeit goods?") to open source software to ride sharing (heaven forbid people carpool and share the costs) to renting out rooms.

What New York Magazine should really be addressing is how is it possible in a time of such abundance there are so many left in need. It isn't even a call to communism exactly in as much as saying the current system is fucking a lot of people over.

And what's worse is how much effort is being put towards disallowing people from sharing rides or subletting a room simply because it threatens established businesses that have paid a lot of bribes to get to their current positions of regulatory capture.

Would people really be doing this if housing and transportation where far cheaper? Why haven’t those benefited from the invisible hand?

Much of what is wrong with our economy (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 months ago | (#46852021)

Can be seen in those who defend the taxi system on the grounds of "consumer protection." People might get overcharged? Not a justifiction for a system so blatantly anti-consumer as the taxi regulations across the country that turned what should be a low barrier to entry job with modest pay into a very lucrative position that blatantly uses the power of the state to shaft customers out of competition. I mean FFS, the car has an odometer. All you need is a law requiring the driver to provide the start and end mileage to the customer and to have them agree verbally to a rate per mile.

Re:Much of what is wrong with our economy (1, Insightful)

udippel (562132) | about 7 months ago | (#46852213)

All you need is a law requiring the driver to provide the start and end mileage to the customer and to have them agree verbally to a rate per mile.

Huh!? I wouldn't want to succumb to 'supply and demand' when I am standing in the middle of nowhere, at 23:00, and urgently need to go to some civilized place. Or back home. I don't want to do any haggling with a cab driver, and the next one and the third one, and so forth, until someone offered me a suitable price.
I had to do this when living in Asia, and I was very sick of this.

Affordable waste versus unaffordable waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852027)

People have limited amounts of money and time. When time and effort are low people are more likely to make efforts to save or extract value through things like 'sharing'. The internet has made it cheaper to share, and sell goods and services. Additionally inflation and high joblessness have made money more scarce and less valuable. So, people now sell and share more because they have more time and less money (on average). And they share more because it's easier and cheaper than ever to do.

Sharing (2)

purnima (243606) | about 7 months ago | (#46852057)

has been the domain of the rich. This is because sharing was moderated by expensive middle men. If you own a castle in Britain, you are likely to regularly share some of the rooms (short-term renting them out through an expensive agency). But it wasn't easy to rent out that extra room or your basement in your three bedroom suburban house, because there was no affordable way to efficiently access that market (the market structure was very thin for short term renting).

Now the rest of us can partake in the sharing economy, agency costs have dropped dramatically for the stuff that the rest of us own.

Re:Sharing (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 7 months ago | (#46852309)

Best comment I have read. I still cant get why people give 10% so easily to real estate agencies tough, for instance. I understand the buyer can trust the agency will make some background checks, however I cant get to the motivation of the seller.

Wired is shite (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#46852063)

Wired is shite, always has been and will be.

I'm surprised it doesn't have plain white cover with rounded corners, that's the kind of people who read it (or rather, look at the pictures in it).

Capitalism vs. Protectorism (1)

burni2 (1643061) | about 7 months ago | (#46852079)

The Shares choose capitalism.

Land of the free home of the brave. God Bless the USA.

Real "Ecopnomy" or hype? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46852083)

The Wired article gives a few anecdotes but no facts. The New York Magazine article has some pretty graphs showing unemployment rates. But neither provides any insight into the scope of the "sharing economy". It appears to me more like a couple of internet start-ups hyping themselves so they'll be the next acquisitions by Facebook.

Re:Real "Ecopnomy" or hype? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46852087)

Blah - proofreading fail...

Market theory (3, Interesting)

drolli (522659) | about 7 months ago | (#46852103)

A market works best if all sides have the same access to knowledge. Prior to the Internet there was no big market for "i have a room which is dont use" because exchanging information was too expensive.

However, it was not at all unusual on the countryside to just put up a sign if you had a room to rent. I remember bicycle trips where we just stopped at some farm and asked and got a room there.

What is new is that you can plan this.

Sharing is nothing new (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 7 months ago | (#46852127)

In previous decades people shared stuff a lot. They shared tools, e.g., when they build houses. They shared land. They shared knowledge. Farmers, share their equipment for a long time, as it was expensive all the time. For example, harvesters are shared even today through farmers cooperatives. The "new" share economy is, therefore, not new. The only new thing is that the sharing platform is now a company and not a joint organisation making profit out of sharing. Furthermore, consumers are now able to share their goods with people over a larger area. And true, people would have led their car in the past only to people they know of. Now they share it with people who pay for it.

In the past sharing was a social act. Now it is a business. However, traditional sharing is also increasing. And traditional sharing requires people to like each other. Therefore, they have to build working relationships, which is definitively a step in the right direction.

"Taking in boarders" (1)

swb (14022) | about 7 months ago | (#46852173)

Maybe I've just seen too many movies, but wasn't taking in boarders common at one point in the not-that-distant past? Maybe the adult male of a middle class household living in a larger house died and the family consolidated their use of rooms and let out rooms and maybe provided a meal, known now as "room and board"? Perhaps if there wasn't much left of the family it was nearly all a boarding house?

Re:"Taking in boarders" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852437)

It's new for people who are used to being rich. The rich have been fucked over by the super-rich, now they have to start subletting their flats. Just like normal people. The horror.

Re:Sharing is nothing new (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#46852211)

Reminds me of the historically-inaccurate forwarded email that blames the Jamestown famine on communal labor and property, then explains how a switch to private ownership and market capitalism saved them all.

Re:Sharing is nothing new (1)

Yosho (135835) | about 7 months ago | (#46852701)

They shared tools, e.g., when they build houses. They shared land. They shared knowledge. Farmers, share their equipment for a long time, as it was expensive all the time.

Except that most of those things are not personal. A hammer's just a hammer; if you loan that to somebody who loses it, you're just out whatever it costs you to buy another hammer. And knowledge? Sharing that doesn't cost you anything. Letting somebody stay in your home, though, especially when you're not there, is very personal, and most people are very hesitant about giving somebody else unfettered access to everything they have.

And... land? Are we looking at the same history? I'd wager that more wars have been fought over who owns what land than anything else. Land is absolutely not something that people have historically been willing to share with somebody they didn't trust intimately.

race to the bottom (1)

phik (2368654) | about 7 months ago | (#46852443)

It isn't going to be pretty

Failure of the economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852589)

What they are trying the hardest not to mention, is that it is a failure in the transportation economy. Medallions and regulations have opened up the market to competition and now there is an ability to compete.

Stop with the overbearing government regulation. Hell stop with all the government regulation.

they are the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46852593)

When you are desperate enough, you trust. Everyone has a tipping point.

Giving The Man "The Finger" (2)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#46852635)

When the game is rigged against the individual in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and banks the only sane and sensible solution is not to play.

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