Tread Lightly on Regulating the Sharing Economy

562 Words Feb 24th, 2018 2 Pages
Feeling threatened by online businesses like Homeaway, Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft that allow people rent underused assets to peers, the taxi and hotel industries have called on local regulators to impose more health and safety rules on micro-entrepreneurs who participate in the “sharing economy” (http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2014/04/29/sunil-paul-who-should-decide-the-future-of-sharing/). Policymakers shouldn’t respond. The hotel and taxi industries are using “consumer protection” as a guise to keep more efficient competitors from cutting their profits.
The Internet has sparked the growth of the “sharing economy.” While people have always rented their stuff to others, the Internet allows them to reach more potential customers faster than ever before. Renting out a spare bedroom in Des Moines to a vacationing German couple or driving someone from downtown Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan for a meeting is a lot easier now than when the classified section of the newspaper was the bleeding edge technology.
Companies like Airbnb and Uber allow owners to use their assets more efficiently, to the benefit of all. Just like it is more efficient for two steel companies with excess capacity to step up production than it is to add a new steel plant to the mix, it is more efficient to use a town’s vacant bedrooms for visitors than to build…
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