ing work (such as Mechanical Turk
or TaskRabbit) “on the cheap” strips
opportunity from the bottom of the
pyramid, as jobs move from traditional manufacturing and services to
that pays for only the task at hand can
shed overhead but mortgage the future by covering only marginal costs
and leaving nothing for new skills,
health care, or retirement. If information goods are an indicator, marginal
costs approach zero, so even covering them might not pay much. Jaron
Lanier’s book Who Owns the Future?
calls this issue a matter of dignity: “if
you have to sing for your supper for
every meal, you’re … one run of bad
luck from losing [everything].” d Going
freelance is hollow freedom when the
wage for labor is free.
d See http://bit.ly/1nSYIn9.
biases are unfounded and consumers
or producers bludgeon each other unfairly in social media, who will intercede? Biases can mislead, ostracize,
shill unearned praise, and damn worthy competitors. A recent study found
16% of Yelp reviews are not genuine.
By posting unfounded complaints,
customers can punish providers for
their transgressions. In some cases,
providers will have to fight back to
save their reputations.b
Taxing the Taxi. Unlike licensed
taxi drivers, private citizens providing ride-share services do not always
purchase medallions. They also do
not take licensing exams, or necessarily carry commercial insurance.
For these reasons and because they
are not required to honor all ride re-
b One restaurateur fights back against an unjustified Yelp review: http://bit.ly/1t TJD Tq.
quests, a German court banned Uber’s
basic service throughout the nation.
Licensed taxi drivers are saddled with
greater costs, which hampers their
ability to compete with ride sharing.
Arguably, ride sharing is growing by
circumventing costs and regulations
that govern incumbent businesses.
Ride sharing can exploit loopholes to
avoid rules and taxes. When this occurs, the sharing economy becomes
the skimming economy.
Shared Economies or Shared Serfdom. A commentator at The New York
Times concluded that what he earned
by ride sharing barely covered gas and
depreciation.c Peer-to-peer exchange
based on sharing ideas or perform-
c See comments on Sundararajan, A. “
Trusting the ‘Sharing Economy’ to Regulate Itself”
Economix Blog New York Times (Mar. 3, 2014);