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UncategorizedThe sharing economy shifts liability from corporations to workers

The sharing economy shifts liability from corporations to workers

We used to have “welfare capitalism.” Now we have nothing.

Strong unions and a strange "welfare capitalism" replaced a public safety net in the US -- and now the sharing economy is replacing it
Strong unions and a strange “welfare capitalism” replaced a public safety net in the US — and now the sharing economy is replacing it

By Tim Redmond

JANUARY 30, 2014 – There’s lots of talk about regulating the sharing economy – zoning rules for Airbnb, regulations for Uber – all of which need to be part of the political agenda.

But there’s another element of this that’s much bigger and more troubling, and it’s largely lurking in the background. I will leave it to Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post, who gets the point pretty clearly:

It’s true that, in many ways, sharing-economy jobs can offer more autonomy than traditional employer-employee relationships. But there’s a dark side to these work arrangements that gets considerably less press: the shifting of risk off corporate balance sheets and onto the shoulders of individual Americans, who may not even realize what kinds of liabilities they’re taking on.

She’s got a great historical analysis. In the Industrial Age, when traditional family-based safety nets fell apart, some countries created government-based replacements – the European welfare states.

In the US,

For reasons driven partly by ideology and partly by historical accident, these new safety nets were largely administered through employers (for example, health insurance). Some historians call this “welfare capitalism.”

But as the economy restructured toward neo-liberalism, that changed:

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Then, beginning around the 1970s, this form of corporate-based risk-sharing began to unravel. Exactly why is debatable; globalization, the decline of unions, regulatory changes, new technology and financial markets all likely played a role. The result, though, is that programs such as defined-benefit pensions began to disappear. Just-in-time scheduling, outsourcing and other arms-length relationships between firms and workers blossomed. In some ways, these developments were very good for economic growth, but they also introduced much more instability into the lives of middle-class workers.

Now we have the ultimate instability: Uber is worth billions in part because it has very few employees doing the bulk of its work. Instead, freelancers with no benefits from the company do the driving.

And the US has no European-style safety net.

A few get very rich. Many get screwed. Welcome to the new sharing economy.

 

 

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

127 COMMENTS

  1. What does Israel and Jews have to do with this article?
    Please, take your anti Semitic remake elsewhere.
    Signed:
    A good Jew

  2. Israel WANTS to be “European” culturally, and therein lies the problem. Jews are Semitic people like their brothers the Arabs (same “father,” Abraham, remember?). Trying to impose faux Euro “culture” (colonialism, racism, capitalism) on Palestine could lead to WWIII.

  3. Oh, so Germany’s the good guy? The only reason one capitalist country would want to “rein in” another one is so they can have what the other has; in this case capital. Germany’s xenophobia, racism, and militarism are being copied by your friends in France and other “European” countries. Their “austerity” measures will destroy the fragile alliances that form the EU; none of these countries really like each other anyway.

  4. Ah, so now you agree with me that continents are “cultural” and not geographic absolutes?

    My work here is done.

  5. It is the UK that has the most rapacious financial system most like the US in Europe.

    In fact, the Germans want to rein in London’s finance center.

  6. Poor Sam; obviously flunked geography, history, and ethics.
    Some capitalists in some Asian and “Middle Eastern” countries want to align with ‘the West,”
    for business reasons, but if you have really have been to Turkey, you will know their culture is NOT
    “European.” As for France standing up to Germany; history lessons, Sam.

  7. “And that decidedly does NOT include Russia or Turkey.”

    And that is not for a lack of effort on the part of the Germans. That which they could not win on the battlefield, they seek to win with finance.

  8. Europe is generally considered to extend east to the Urals, and Russia is west of there.

    Turkey straddles the Bosporus and the part to the west of there (including Istanbul) is deemed Europe, while the larger area to the south and east (including the capital Ankara) is considered to be Asia.

    The fact that Turkey wants to be in the EU rather gives the lie to your hypothetical unsubstantiated claims about what Turks think. And I have been to Turkey; I’m guessing you have not..

    But yes, you are right about one thing. Germany does not “dominate” Europe when you consider all of Europe rather than just the Euro-Zone (and even then, France would probably argue about that).

  9. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true. If anything, ‘Europe” is “in” or more precisely on the edge of Asia. Russia is the MIDDLE of the Asian land mass. Turkey too. The EU is a political organization; nothing to do with geography. Both Russia and Turkey have fought dozens of wars against “Europe.” The Europeans have been trying expel “the Turks” (anyone with skin darker than a suntan) and “the Jews” for centuries. Try telling a Russian or Turkish person they are “part of” Europe. When they stop laughing, they might offer you a history lesson.

    Oh, and the original point was that Germany dominates whatever you consider to be “Europe” today. And that decidedly does NOT include Russia or Turkey.

    TrollKiller 1
    Spam O

  10. Any driver who is not happy with that take would presumably quit.

    The real question isn’t how much Uber takes but rather whether a driver can make more with Uber than without them.

    If I make 100K a year doing that i might not mind that Uber takes another 25K

  11. Guest, if you don’t have to cross a body of water to get from A to B, then A and B are contiguous landmasses.

  12. Russia is in Europe. Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia but has applied to join the EU, and is already in NATO.

    You’re the one displaying ignorance here.

  13. Africa is as much connected to Eurasia as Point Reyes is connected to North America. Plate tectonics escapes Spam’s analytical mind.

  14. It’s interesting to watch “Sam” redefine the rules of geography. A continent is a geological feature having nothing at all to do with “ethnic and cultural” considerations. And Mr. Smarty Pants should know that Russia and Turkey are part of Asia; culturally, ethnically, and geographically. Once again, Sam’s knee-jerk reactionarianism (!) allowed him to put both feet in his mouth.

  15. So, like I said, Germany dominates the economics and military affairs of “Europe.”
    And neither Russia or Turkey are “part of” Europe; culturally or geographically.

  16. A continent doesn’t have to be an island. In fact Africa is connected to the Eurasian land mass.

    While North America and South America are both considered separate continents.

    It’s more a ethnic and cultural division than a geographic feature.

  17. Denmark’s currency is now under upwards pressure as well and, given their reputation for banking integrity and secrecy, I’d be surprised to see them sign up for the Euro.

    Moreover it is the Euro countries, and not the entire EU, that is stuck with most of the bill for the Mediterrean basketcases.

    The only nations that want to join the Euro right now are the eastern European nations looking for credibility.

  18. Denmark and Switzerland are more or less part of the Euro Zone as they’d had their non-Euro currencies pegged to the Euro although Switzerland has abandoned that.

  19. Europe is the continent and includes nations that are not in the EU or the Euro-zone, like Switzerland, Russia and Turkey.

    NATO is a military alliance includes most European nations, including Turkey, but excluding Switzerland.

    The EU is the political and trade organization that includes most, but not all, of the nations of Europe.

    The Euro-Zone is the sub-set of the EU that has adopted the Euro as its currency.

    That is four different but over-lapping lists of nations.

    The problems in Greece stem from it being in the Euro-Zone and therefore having to adopt the same financial rules as the other much stronger nations that use the Euro.

    The best solution for Greece would be to leave the Euro but stay in the EU, like the U.K. and Scandinavia (except finland).

  20. So you admit that you do not know the difference between Europe, the EU and the Euro-zone?

    They are three different things.

    And refuting you isn’t stalking you.

  21. No need to get personal – that just shows the paucity of your argument.

    There is a clear distinction between the sharing economy and the regular economy. And neither is anything like the acts of charity that Susan appeared to mistake this for.

  22. Wow. My very own personal cyber-stalker. Maybe that’s why nobody participates on this site anymore. “Germany really only dominates the EU and, in the case of financial matters, the Euro-Zone.” Isn’t that what I just said? Good job chasing your tail, Spam.

  23. No, the closest analogy would be “selling.” You just defined “selling.” And it’s clear from this post that you know you’re lying.

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to be somebody like Sam who has no ethics. Offering an occasional “white lie” would make me feel guilty, but the non-stop, whopping, disengenous lies that Sam routinely dispenses – Jesus, I don’t know how you live with yourself.

  24. Germany really only dominates the EU and, in the case of financial matters, the Euro-Zone.

    London is the financial capital of Europe and fortunately their policies are much more like our own.

  25. Readers always know when you have no answer to my arguments, because you always resort to personal attacks when that happens.

  26. I did not know that the new Greek government was opposed to colons. I think you might have meant anti-colonial although in fact Greece has never been a colony.

    I’m actually looking forward to the Greeks trying to give a finger to the world’s financial system while simultaneously begging them for more loans. Should be highly amusing and entertaining.

    Worker co-operatives are fine for tiny enterprises like Rainbow but it doesn’t scale. The real worker co-operatives these days are knowledge companies where the workers all have stock options. We achieved what Marx wanted through capitalism. Oh, the irony.

  27. I had hoped this post would lead to a vigorous debate about “welfare capitalism,” “socialism,” and alternative economics. But I guess that would have to be in a “radical” publication, because “progressive” seems to mean “status quo” with tweeks and perks. The discussions here seem to degenerate into debates about real estate, how many lawyers can dance on the head of a pin, and which popular personality is running for political office.

    What’s happening in Greece is a return to the real “sharing” economy. I have no idea what form it will take, but so far it’s anti-colonalist, which word is interchangeable with “capitalist,” as you can’t have one without the other. The people did not create the “debt” in Greece (or the USA); it’s all a Grand Game amongst the global elite.

    Anything involving automobiles cannot possibly be considered “innovative.” The only reason to rent out your apartment is because you can’t pay the rent: AirBnB. This is what we’ve got to show for “tech innovation?” I am decidedly underwhelmed. The ability to do research and send emails remains the best use of a computer. C’mon kids, where’s the discussion about worker-directed enterprises, housing cooperatives, re-designing the City for the 21st Century? I know this isn’t the “Berkeley Barb,” but…..

  28. Pretty awesome that Paul Craig Roberts was a political appointee in Reagan’s Department of Defense! As Iglesias of Podemos said, this is neither left nor right, it is a war on the Wall Street gangsters in Washington and Berlin.

  29. OK, so you cannot cite any reference prior to the election last week and your love affair with Greece is about a week old and based on something you read in a newspaper?

    Got it.

  30. What are you on about, Spamster?
    Setting up straw men so you can set them aflame.
    Pathetic.
    Since you probably only read the NYT, I’ll spell it out for you:

    “If the new Greek government adheres to its Red Cloaks and the EU looters do not bend, Greece can turn to the new BRICS bank for its financing and turn its back to the EU. The other southern European countries that are set up for looting could follow. Intransigence on the part of the EU and Greece’s creditors could unleash a Black Swan that could unwind the EU and, consequently, NATO. Peace would descend upon the plundered and war-torn earth. If the greed and stupidity of Greece’s creditors and the inflexibility of Germany and the EU persist, Washington’s European Empire could crumble. Just like Xerxes’ army. The Immortals proved to be no more immortal than the Exceptional people have proven to be exceptional. A few Red Cloaks can scatter the lot. Let’s hope Greece gets on with the job.” — Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

    Hurrah!

  31. Can you cite an instance of you commending Greece prior to last week’s election? I say not, and that is the default assumption unless you provide evidence.

  32. No politician can control market prices. At best, they can just tinker around at the margin.

    If you voted for Lee thinking he would make SF as cheap as Detroit, then you only have yourself to blame. If you want Detroit RE prices, move to Detroit.

  33. Not true. My standard property insurance includes a two million liability clause for third-party risks. I just checked it.

    And it looks boilerplate – I certainly never specifically requested it

  34. Mark, the city could have done that, but such an uncompromising position might have led Airbnb to not co-operate at all.

    And might have led to a court case that the city might lose.

    Better to compromise and get something than be an ass and get nothing

  35. It was a serious question. What have you ever admired about Greece apart from the fact that a lefty won an election there last week?

    If it is such a role model, why have you never mentioned it before?

  36. “A nation mired in debt with rampant tax evasion and where all the rich hide their money in Switzerland (or offshore).” Hmmm, sounds like the U. S. of A.

    Could you survive an audit, Sam?

  37. I preferred “consulate”.

    Yes, Greece is the way forward. A nation mired in debt with rampant tax evasion and where all the rich hide their money in Switzerland.

  38. > Housing prices decrease during economic crises.

    Please see real rents for the past century:
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=Z6a

    Real rents dropped from 2002-2006 (not a crisis), 1987-1995 (not a crisis), 1971-1981 (still not a crisis), 1939-1948 (not a crisis), 1931-1935 (oo! this one was a crisis) and 1915-1919 (not a crisis).

    There is more to the housing market than you think.

    > Developers do not build during economic crises.

    In the ‘lesser Depression’ from 2008 to present, San Francisco added 20,000 units. I don’t find 1930s unit growth in a spare minute. Do you have it?

    Oh, sorry. I shouldn’t bother you for data, should I?

    It gets tiresome arguing with those divorced from fact and reason. Revelation is for religion, not policy.

  39. You can’t possibly look down on anyone Samster, even if your fantasy were true. I’m not talking “fiscal prudence,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’m talking revolution; the end of people like you.

  40. Huh? That makes no sense. Umbrella policies are something you buy in addition to standard policies, and the coverage limits are variable.

    I’m not sure, but I think you may need a liability policy if you are hosting for AirBnb.

  41. When enacting the ordinance, the City could choose to place the burden of the tax on AirBnb; and it could have chosen to exact the unpaid tax from AirBnb in exchange for legalization.

  42. Greece and soon Spain are the poster children for a new European front in the global democratic uprising against Wall Street, Washington and Berlin.

  43. Most property insurance policies I have seen include an umbrella policy for third party liability, up to one or two million.

  44. Joseph, you’re the one living in a shitty TL SRO. I’m looking down on you from waaaaaay up in the hills.
    IRL I would not give you the time of day. Be grateful for the morsels I throw you from the master’s table, and cherish them.

    And if you think Greece is the poster child for fiscal prudence then you are in more trouble than anyone here can help you with.

  45. Whassa matta Sam, cat got your tongue? Why don’t you ever provide any documentation for your ridiculous claims? Don’t worry; you don’t have anything the rabble ants to seize; you’re just another puffed-up Internet Warrior who can be anything you want to be because there’s no way for anyone to prove or disprove it.

    You’re probably the one that lives in the Tenderloin…..

  46. Greece had its time about 3,000 years ago. It’s a basketcase now.

    But Greeks are very good at tax evasion so maybe that is why you support the place.

    And borrowing money that they cannot ay back.

    Basketcase.

  47. Always some smarmy-ass comment, instead of seeing the world in front of your beady little eyes. That’s why everyone loves you. Greece is the future, not the past you seem to want to live in.

  48. As a career freelance artist I can attest to the fact that not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer. A freelancer takes on the responsibilities of an employer, and employee, and and a bookkeeper, at the very least Most are also good at sales, PR, marketing and human relations. As more people try to become freelancers and contractors and consultants, schools need to put a greater emphasis on those skills. They should also bring back financing, civics, and political science classes so citizens would be better able to take on the independence and responsibilities the government seems to think they should be taking on. If society has a better knowledge of the past, they may not be forced to keep repeating the mistakes they already made.

  49. Good question. I bet many hosts didn’t appreciate the potential tax liability, or other liabilities they are assuming. Probably AirBnB did, or should have. In part it’s profits derive from shifting those liabilities to the hosts.

    Does anyone know whether a standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy covers liability to paying guests? Does AirBnB provide coverage or require it?

  50. So elections are always wrong except where they are right? With with you deciding who was right?

    You missed your calling and your time. The 1930’s would have suited you better.

  51. But those leaders were elected by we the people, who clearly expressed a preference for a pro-jobs, pro-growth administration. Just because you personally don’t like that approach does not mean that a majority don’t prefer it.

  52. I’ve seen little evidence for your claim, Guest. And TCP/IP has nothing to do with healthcare.

    the one exception might be research funded by the military. I’m glad you support that.

  53. The fact that nobody has the balls to run against Ed Lee is indicative of a broad perception that Lee is doing the best possible job and is therefore very popular.

    Housing would be expensive under any leader with the possible exception of one who is so bad that he ruins the local economy.

    If you are willing to accept a collapsed economy in your mindless drive for cheap housing, then maybe Campos is your man. But wishing such damage on your neighbors isn’t very, er, neighborly.

  54. Most fundamental research upon which pharma advances are made are funded by the NIH, socialized by the government. Most of the fundamental research upon which most technical advances are made are funded by the government, TCP/IP is a prime example.

  55. Why just this past year, Ed Lee said this:

    Lee called skyrocketing rents and a limited housing market a “crisis” for the city that “threatens to choke off our economic growth and prosperity for the future.”

    He noted that the economic growth has reduced San Francisco’s unemployment rate from 9.5 to 5.2 percent since he took office in 2011.

    “What our housing crisis demands is real solutions and a shared vision,” Lee said outside the former naval shipyard in the city’s Hunters Point neighborhood, where an $8 billion project to construct 12,000 new residential units got started last June after decades of planning and cleanup.

    The mayor characterized some of the backlash against rising rents “scapegoating,” including protests of commuter shuttle buses that take residents from San Francisco to jobs at tech companies like Google on the Peninsula.

    “They speak of it remarkably only in terms of the negative; perhaps the first time in history that the creation of too many good jobs has been criticized,” he said.

    He closed his speech by saying the story of San Francisco is one of rapid spurts of growth. “Each new wave of newcomers has come with a degree of tension.”

    Lee laid out a seven-point plan that he said can keep San Francisco affordable to families in the decades to come.

    The plan included promises to do more to protect residents from eviction and displacement as landlords may try to push long-term renters out of rent-controlled units.

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/01/17/san-francisco-mayor-ed-lee-to-unveil-housing-plan-at-state-of-the-city-address/

  56. Guest, your argument rests on an erroneous premise. The voters did not elect Lee because they thought he could lower home prices. No policy can do that.

    They elected him because they believed that he would generate economic growth to better enable us to afford homes.

    And because building at least some homes helps reduce the rate f increase of home prices.

    Ultimately homes get built because people want them.

  57. Housing prices decrease during economic crises.

    Developers do not build during economic crises.

    Ed Lee ran on a lie, these condos will do nothing to lower price, it is time to stop the developers and their political enablers.

    Next.

  58. What is stopping you from paying more to the gov’t? Go ahead. Stop taking ANY deductions. Also Obamacare is abysmal, there are literally 31 million people that are MIDDLE CLASS without health insurance in the USA. While it’s true that 30% are illegals, 70% are USA citizens, mostly self-employed and can’t afford $800 bronze/ $1200 silver. Can you?

  59. Supply increases will never lower price, except when they do, most recently from 2002-2006. Anyone who thinks they won’t is just thinking small.

    Developers just want to make money. Give them a positive NPV and a good IRR and they’ll build.

    Where did you learn your, er, ‘economics’? I’d really like to know, so I can make sure nobody about whom I care ever send his child there.

  60. Except for all of that pent up unrealized demand. The voters voted to build housing to lower the cost of housing. Ed Lee ran on that platform. Yet it is a lie, supply increases will never lower price. No developer would build into a market where the price of a commodity is lower in the future than now. There will be no housing contango.

  61. Maybe Airbnb only agreed to start collecting taxes in the future in return for a waiver on any alleged past taxes?

    After all, they are helping the city here, and the hosts are also responsible.

  62. Welcome back marcos. You think I was talking about you there? How self-absorbed of you.

    Or did you just forget to switch handle?

    I have only revealed personal information about other posts here when they were clearly lying or being hypocritical.

  63. Susan, Sharing economy works when you adjust your perspective a bit: Uber and Airbnb get the lion’s share and everyone else gets the leftovers.

  64. That’s not the deal Airbnb (David Chiu) cut with the city when the legalization ordinance was passed last fall. Airbnb collects the hotel tax and pays SF (and a bunch of cities too). Why should it be any different with past taxes?

  65. No, it was well documented. Stick around here some more and you will hear about it.

    He hasn’t been seen around here much since he was exposed.

  66. I cannot prove anything about someone who comments as “Guest”

    But there is a fairly well-known poster here who routinely opposes the provision of condos for white male tech workers and he was then exposed as being a white male condo-owning tech worker himself.

    As amusing as his humiliation was, the sad fact is that there is a lot of hypocrisy around this issue.

  67. Sam, the fact is S.F. is not only effected by forces that have their origins elsewhere but has become the home of these so-called “sharing economy” businesses that are driving the emerging Reaganomics, dribble down, free market radicalism. And instead of being honest brokers on behalf of all our citizens our local elected officials have become little more than lap-dogs for the new ruling elite like Conway. They have time and again turned a blind eye every time these companies openly break existing laws and then change the laws after the fact to suit their sponsors without forcing them to pay for pass offensives.

    If our city’s leaders were honest brokers on our behalf every Goggle bus would have been ticketed every time they used a bus stop, every Uber driver would be have been ticketed for offering rides without a taxi medallion or commercial plants and insurance, every Airbb renter would have been fined for doing short term rentals without a permit. And then after all these fines were paid and this blatant law breaking stopped then these companies could have come before the city to request a change in the existing laws. That has been the the traditional process. If we want to throw that out maybe we should get all law and order because I guess all theft in just a “innovative” form of income earning.

  68. WC, but it is profit that drives innovation. Most of the medical breakthroughs happen in our for-profit system and not in nations with socialized healthcare. The US is far and away the global leader in healthcare and biotech.

    If paying just one percent more (to use your number) means that we have access to the most innovative and modern techniques and treatments, then we should be willing to pay that price.

    Nobody goes to Albania, North Korea or Venezuela for surgery.

  69. If the NHS is ‘struggling with [9% GDP] costs,’ then the US must be crippled by its 17% GDP price tag. If cost is your only criterion, then socialized medicine must be your favored policy.

    Welcome to the fold, Sam. Welcome.

  70. Guest, 17% of GDP is the total cost in the US. Profits probably cap out around 1% of GDP. Even that is lots of money, though, and has political effects.

  71. Hating anyone based on either their occupation of their politics makes no sense anyway. I never understand the vitriol that gets expended over such things.

    There is an issue with hypocrisy however, e.g. those commentators who attack white male tech workers who buy SF condos when in fact that commentator is a white male tech worker who bought a SF condo.

  72. gmb, you have to realize that individual municipalities and jurisdictions have little control over the macro forced and trends that drive our nation. The ability of our city to pass laws that deviate from federal and state laws is fairly limited.

    So the fact that SF is more liberal than most other places does not mean it is immunized from the Reagan revolution, nor global trends like privatization, outsourcing, lower taxes, deregulation and a braid desire to roll back the nanny state. It’s more like having a whacky nextdoor nightbor.

  73. It rather ironic in a City that likes to think of itself as a liberal, democratic hotbed it has in fact embraced Reaganomics as its core values, based on the ideal of the deregulated economy and free market radicalism is the major cultural, political and economic force.

  74. If there is anyone who Sam hates more than progressives, it is San Francisco progressives in tech who are not robotic prospecting suburban automatons.

  75. When the health insurance bureaucracy consumes some 17% of 17% of the economy in profit, then it is not going to let go easily, to the contrary, it is going to mandate paying tribute to insurers via rent seeking behaviors, buying legislators to warp the market in their favor.

  76. I am highly confident that Tim would much prefer to see more comments on the topic, as mine are, and less snide comments attacking other commentators, which is pretty much all we get from saminsf and a few others.

    Heck, his obsession with me is so all-consuming that he even names his handle after me.

    It’s really sad when people can’t simply ignore posts and posters that they don’t like.

  77. Of course, if they made a profit renting their house or apartment the pay the back taxes the same as a hotel.

  78. Sam, there are three basic models of European healthcare. Precisely none of the three resembles your caricatures. This overview may help:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/opinion/17krugman.html

    The issue in the US is not choice, it is cost. US healthcare blows a marginal 5% of GDP hole in the US economy:
    http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/total-expenditure-on-health_20758480-table1

    The BEA just released Q4 GDP:
    http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2015/gdp4q14_adv.htm

    5% of GDP is almost 900 billion dollars. That’s real money.

  79. Russo, there isn’t a real question that Uber is comparatively beneficent, relative to Wal Mart. Uber is no Saint Francis, Wal Mart is just that bad.

    Disproving Tim’s point isn’t on the table (the first words of my comment are, ‘Tim makes an excellent point’). Wal Mart and the Walton heirs political spending are doing real harm, compared to which Uber’s manifold and very real sins are, at most, a distraction.

  80. Heh, I guess someone could write a browser plugin that would pre-filter out his comments from this site for you. Then again, that could potentially require one of you to actually talk to someone who works in tech, which we know is a horror beyond contemplation.

  81. It should.

    The AirBNB hosts took on the role of a hotel. One of those roles is to make sure that TOT tax is collected and remitted to the city. Just ask Hyatt, Joe’s Motel, Expedia or anyone else involved.

    Sorry, but renting out a room is business and requires some thought and research. You can’t just rely on your vendors and partners to bail you out if you missed something.

    Also what’s up with calling them ‘unwitting “hosts”‘? Did they not “host” guests? Did they not freely enter into the exchange on their own volition??

    Are they lambs or people?

  82. But Europe is also rolling back it’s “as much free healthcare as you can eat” programs in favor of insurance-based plans where the patient copays.

    So even quasi-socialist nations are beginning to understand that an unlimited commitment to free healthcare for everyone all the time is not tenable or sustainable.

  83. It’s far too soon to tell if ObamaCare will be a success. Many of the left don’t appear to like it so perhaps you need to have that debate with them. They wanted the so- called “public option”, which was deeply unpopular with the people, and which was killed by the Democrat-run Congress.

    In this context of this article, where I think it will help is that it will help with the trend of employers being less in the business of providing you with healthcare. Instead they could move you onto ObamaCare and share the saving with you so that you can better afford that.

    And of course the trend towards part-time and contract work also drives that trend. When I became self-employed, a big concern was healthcare and had ObamaCare been available then, it would have been a serious option.

    There is still a place for employer-funded healthcare, of course. But it could be restricted to where extra benefits must be offered to attract top talent, and not a generic obligation to provide it for all workers.

  84. The Affordable Care Act has already proven you wrong, Spam. Enrollees choose from a variety of plans and doctors. Health costs have gone down. The federal deficit has shrunk as a result. Tens of millions are insured for the first time.

    And actually, the American public has polled time and time again that we do want higher taxes–on the rich who’ve been coddled by the government.

  85. Isn’t that always the great lie of so-called libertarians? Socialize all risk. Kill public healthcare and let the public pay when emergency rooms take the place of general medical practice.

  86. Uber drivers have publicly said they don’t make those figures anymore. (Often closer to $5 an hour after expenses.) How can they with 11,000 active drivers on the streets and endless more coming. And that doesn’t include Lyft’s thousands.

    Are you really calling Uber when “beneficent” when it shirks all liability? The family of the six-year-old girl run over and killed hasn’t received a penny for its unfathomable loss–not to mention an apology from Uber.

    When Uber was banned in India, this month, because at least two of its drivers raped customers, it merely restarted operations under a different name.

    The ride-snare horror stories are many and easily Googled. Their reckless record only proves Tim’s point above.

  87. Tim, I almost agree with you in part. I don’t think it was ever reasonable to expect me to pay your healthcare costs or pension, just because I employ you. In the foreign nations that you mention, employers typically do not do that.

    And that leads to an obvious problem. At least where a US employer is competing with foreign companies, the US company is disadvantaged by this historical burden of being a welfare provider. Throw in the additional burden of a much higher rate of corporate tax than elsewhere in the west, and you have a double whammy that disadvantages US employers. This explains why we see so much outsourcing of production and the importing of goods to places without those burdens.

    So we have the rate situation of Tim and I both agreeing that US employers are being over-burdened with quasi-charitable obligations. The issue of course is how to fix that.

    The European nations that provide cradle-to-grave nanny-state care are in fact struggling with that as well. Even Scandinavia has been rolling back its famed social welfare programs because they have become unaffordable even with 60% tax rates. While public pension schemes in Europe have huge under-funded liabilities just like government pension plans here, and are switching from DB to DC schemes.

    Unless we want European levels of taxation here, and the voters routinely show us that they do not, then the only reasonably third way is individuals stepping up and, in return, being allowed to keep more of their income through lower taxes. Plus where appropriate vouchers for buying health, pensions and education in lieu of that crippling burden being borne by vast bureaucratic entities.

    I’d rather pay less tax and buy my own healthcare. I’d rather choose my providers than have them foisted on me. Even Rampell admits that helps economic growth. And ultimately economic growth is the only way we pay for anything.

  88. Susan, you misunderstand the concept. If “sharing” involves the free use of my stuff, then we would call that charity or gifting. But did you see that other word in there – “economy”? That’s right, it’s an economy, which implies an exchange in value.

    So a closer analogy might be bartering where, say, I mow your lawn and you walk my dog. Two parties freely and consensually exchange products, services and assets in a mutually beneficial arrangement. And either there is no intermediary (say if are friends, family or neighbors) or there is an intermediary that matches us up (CraigsList, Airbnb or Uber) for a small fee.

    But the point is that we are engaged in an informal exchange of value. When I share my home with you, that doesn’t preclude you giving me something of value in return, just like a good friend would.

  89. Tim makes an excellent point, but he’s aiming it at the wrong target. Uber is a comparatively benificent actor here compared to, say, Wal-Mart or Amazon. Uber drivers in San Francisco are making $25+ (X) and $30+ (Black) an hour. The average WMT wage is $13, and it no longer pays health insurance if you work under 30 hours a week. The median Amazon warehouse job pays under $14.

    Risk sharing is a real problem in the US. The solution is social democracy, not the sharing economy, but don’t get distracted: Uber has 150,000 drivers. Wal Mart employs 1.3 million.

    Sources:
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/uber-static/comms/PDF/Uber_Driver-Partners_Hall_Kreuger_2015.pdf
    http://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/locations/united-states
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/wal-mart-to-end-health-insurance-for-some-part-time-employees-1412694790
    http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/30/news/companies/amazon-warehouse-workers/

  90. The Democratic Party Central Committee has voted to “urge” AirBnb to pay back taxes–estimated to be $25 million. If a city ordinance to recoup the past taxes is proposed, will AirBnb now contend that the liability falls to its unwitting “hosts”?

  91. We all know Uber or airbnb aren’t anything like the original meaning of the sharing economy so why use the term? It’s confusing and incorrect. There isn’t any sharing going on if money is exchanged. Letting people use your stuff, time banks, tool banks, babysitting coops are example of sharing. I agree with what you’re saying in this article but let’s not add to the myth that the billionaires have created any kind of sharing. Drivers don’t share their cars and airbnb hosts don’t share their apartments, houses, and castles.

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