Thought of the Day: The Sharing Economy

What is this “sharing economy” they keep talking about? Airbnb? Uber? Are these people sharing their homes? Are they sharing their cars? No, they are renting them. And that’s an important distinction.

Look, I’m all for making money any way you can, as long as it’s legal. And I often stay in Airbnbs when I travel. But words matter, so let’s be honest with how we describe things.

There is nothing unique about what these people are doing. It’s simply an extension of the traditional economy, the sales and rental economy, in which individuals are trying to monetize everything they can. The only thing really unusual about what they are doing is that they’ve figured out a way to avoid regulations that ensure customer safety and fair business practices.

So, please, stop pretending that these businesses are special or revolutionary. What they are doing is as old as the oldest profession. Yes, I’m talking about prostitution. While I’m sure the disciples of this so-called “sharing economy” would reject the comparison, prostitution is basically Airbnbing your body, if you are working in a brothel, or Ubering your body, if you are working the streets. And that’s not exactly sharing, is it?