I’m all in favor of sharing—and even, in places, a sharing economy.*
But I suspect the current app-assisted sharing economy is just another one of those ideas that the twenty-somethings who work in Silicon Valley have dreamed up and celebrated because it satisfies their own consumption needs. It’s an idea that relies on individual ownership and rational calculation of returns to ownership. Besides, as James Surowiecki concludes,
It also means no benefits, no steady paycheck, and the need to always be hustling; in that sense, it fits all too well with the free-agent nation we’re increasingly becoming. Sharing, it turns out, is often a hell of a lot of work.
Much more interesting is the solidarity economy, where people come together as collectivities to create new, cooperative economic institutions, where they decide as a group how and why to produce, exchange, consume, and distribute—since each moment affects all the others. Which highlights the problem of the sharing economy: it changes consumption but leaves everything just as it was before.
And it’s a helluva lot of individual work.
*A friend and I have long been discussing the irrationality of everyone on the Mountain owning their own tractors, instead of everyone sharing the use of one jointly owned tractor.