A popular new kind of capitalism, "the sharing economy,” is emerging in America, and those on the left are fighting among themselves over whether to embrace or attack it.
One such enterprise is Uber, which facilitates entrepreneurs using their own cars to provide transportation.
New York City's Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to restrict Uber from competing with crony taxi cab companies that pay huge medallion fees, taxes, and campaign contributions to have a lucrative monopoly.
But in job-hungry New York State, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is an Uber booster.
"Uber is one of these great inventions, startups, of this new economy," says Cuomo. "It's offering a great service for people and it's giving people jobs."
"How do you really say to a company you can't grow here . . . and in the case of Uber they will move next door." Cuomo continued. "I hope they wouldn't move to New Jersey."
New York City is cracking down on another sharing economy company, Airbnb, that matches up visitors with one of 25,000 local families willing to rent out spare bedrooms by the night.
This, too, reduces revenues from steep hotel room taxes on customers who do not live or vote locally.
Sharing economy services must compete without having government monopolies and therefore are more responsive and reliable than the taxis and hotels of government crony businesses that take customers for granted.
As Craig R. Smith and I explore in "We Have Seen The Future . . . And It Looks Like Baltimore," our next book out this September, those suffering with low and stagnant incomes under the Obama economy are happy to save by using Uber and Airbnb.
But for many on the left, such "collaborative consumption" elicits fury. As Nancy Cook wrote in the Aug. 1 issue of The Atlantic, the original utopian idea behind the sharing economy that began in 2008 was to coordinate the sharing of tools and other assets without anyone making any profit.
Yerdle, a rival Web-based enterprise Cook describes as founded in 2012 to help people give things away, was launched "on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, with the goal of reducing by 25 percent the amount of stuff that people buy to promote, as the company calls it, 'unshopping.'"
We could call "unshopping" other things, like an anti-capitalist effort by a former Sierra Club president to undermine capitalism, industry, profits, and jobs in the U.S. economy.
The loony left webzine Salon.com wrote: "You're not fooling us, Uber! . . . the "'Sharing Economy' is all about corporate greed" by making "money for Silicon Valley venture capitalists while pretending to espouse progressive ideals."
"Companies like Uber and Airbnb may seem to lean left," wrote Salon.com, but are merely using "the language of ‘sharing’ . . . to conceal ambitions far more libertarian."
Yes, for these lefties, the fundamental libertarian notions of capitalism, free markets, competition, investment, and profit are obscenities. Leftists are collectivists who believe that individualism and private property must be expunged.
In "The Case Against Sharing" in the political cartoon webzine TheNib.com, Susie Cagle wrote: "For the past few years, the 'sharing economy' has characterized itself as a revolution: Renting a room on Airbnb or catching an Uber is an act of civil disobedience in the service of a righteous return to human society's true nature of trust and village-building that will save the planet and our souls. A higher form of enlightened capitalism."
Instead, she writes, the “sharing economy" could drag people back into the precarious work of the early 20th Century, with few rights for workers or consumers.
Radicals conveniently forget that socialism and Marxism have failed to deliver on their utopian promises.
As Cook observes, there may be "another limit to these purer forms of the sharing economy: human nature. Anyone who has reared children knows that sharing isn't a natural behavior — that it often requires incentives or threats."
This is the choice: Incentives so we work voluntarily, or threats, coercion and involuntary servitude. As Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman said, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Somebody — free market capitalist or unmotivated socialist slave — must produce the goods we want and need. The new capitalism produces more goods and more freedom.
Lowell Ponte is co-author, with Craig R. Smith, of "The Great Withdrawal"; "Crashing the Dollar: How to Survive a Global Currency Collapse"; "The Great Debasement: The 100-Year Dying of the Dollar and How to Get America's Money Back"; "The Inflation Deception: Six Ways Government Tricks Us . . . And Seven Ways to Stop It"; and "Re-Making Money: Ways to Restore America's Optimistic Golden Age." Read more reports from Lowell Ponte — Click Here Now.
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