gig eco

Recently the Federal Trade Commission brought out a report on the Sharing Economy. This very positive report included almost two thousand (2000!) individual comments submitted by Americans participating in this new style of economy. People use the sharing economy as a way to thrive and survive in the slowest recovery of a recession since the Great Depression and this sentiment is felt in almost all comments in this massive database.

In the midst of holiday cheer it’s good to spend some time thinking about not just why more choice for people and how flexibility in setting your own hours is good but also how the Sharing Economy has impacted the thousands of Americans working in it. I went through most of the by the FTC collected comments and picked out some of the most warm, heartfelt and inspiring quotes found among them.

Susanne Warfied from New Jersey talks about how she felt safe and empowered to invite guests to stay at her apartment through Airbnb’s platform and how this has helped her pay for the enormous increases in her healthcare premium through Obamacare.

“I joined AirBNB in March of this year as I was having problems making ends meet. I am self-employed and have been struggling to make mortgage payments and maintain my association management company and pay for the so-called Obamacare. The impact of Obamacare alone has raised my personal health care premium by over $300 a month! I thought it was supposed to help small business owners?”

Ridesharing was praised for reducing drunk driving deaths and tragedy for thousands every year.

“May 26, 2015

To Whom it May Concern, 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has had great success since our founding in 1980 in reducing the number of drunk driving fatalities. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. In 2013 over 10,000 people were killed due to a drunk driver. This accounts for almost one-third of all traffic deaths. While the best way to stop drunk driving is to couple strong drunk driving laws with strong DUI enforcement and educating the public on the consequences of breaking these laws, it is also important for those over the age of 21 to have a safe ride should they go out to consume alcoholic beverages. To that end, MADD supports new ridesharing platforms and alternative means of transportation that use new and emerging technologies to enable more transportation options throughout the country. MADD knows that the Federal Trade Commission is holding a workshop on the sharing economy and wanted to weigh in support of new rideshare programs and platforms which include companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. Of particular interest to MADD is the potential for these new alternatives to take drunk drivers off the road and provide a safe alternative. Due to the competition that Uber has introduced into the market, people can now get a safe and cash-free ride home at the touch of a button. Please consider the tremendous social value that ridesharing companies offer as you put together your June 9 workshop. We urge you to take into consideration the issue of drunk driving as you continue to debate this issue.

Thank you and best wishes, J.T. Griffin”

And finally, Carlton Timeus regales the story of how he once saved a young man’s life.

“There was a night, a young man requested for ride while he was in a very bad area in Miami. He cried that I came quickly because he feared for his life. When I arrived, 3 guys were getting ready to jump him for his watch and wallet. So I quickly pull my car between him and those 3 guys. That’s just one story.”

These are just three of the two thousand comments on the Sharing Economy collected by the FTC.

The Sharing Economy has empowered thousands of people with the opportunity to make their lives better. For Americans working in the Sharing Economy the case seems clear, they overwhelmingly like it. The report by the FTC found that over 90% of the two thousand comments were positive and of the 10% negative comments, many came from existing industry players such as hotels, bed and breakfasts and taxi companies.

For innovation to be possible, disruption of old incumbent industries needs to be allowed. The Sharing Economy is just another example of that. The market has spoken and they overwhelmingly shouted in favor. The Sharing Economy is here to stay.