On June 27, a warm but breezy Tuesday evening in Washington, interns from free-market organizations across Washington gathered on the rooftop of the Heritage Foundation. The guest of honor was Jared Meyer, a senior research fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability and author of the popular book, Uber-Positive: Why Americans Love the Sharing Economy and the recent mini-book, How Progressive Cities Fight Innovation.
The event was not only special to interns due to Meyer’s wealth of knowledge on economics and government regulation, but mores o, because of his focus on the ride-sharing platforms of Lyft and Uber, and more recently, AirBNB.
Meyer spoke on how cities, such as New York, Washington, DC, and Chicago, all of whom are pretty much self-proclaimed “progressive cities” via city governments and lobbying organizations are fighting the sharing economy. In the case of Uber, for example, Meyer addressed the claim that Uber was more unsafe than taxis by saying that technology has made using these platforms much safer than the traditional alternatives. Those who have concerns due to stories of rogue Uber drivers miss the point that without the new technology, these persons would not have been caught and brought to justice. In recent months, the focus has shifted away from Uber toward targeting AirBNB.
Regarding AIRBNB, Meyer warns of a new enemy: homeowners who want to keep out those who do not fit the exclusive appeal of the neighborhoods. Some push for new regulations to control things such as “noise level for short term rentals” when current laws are already in place to control noise levels and in some places, even occupancy. Meyer sees these rules as attempts by local governments in conjunction with the hotel industry to pick winners and losers.
Meyer nonetheless remains optimistic that with changes in administration and with strong support from consumers, the sharing economy will not be going away anytime soon.
In his closing remarks, Jared Meyer was celebrated with a round of applause as he said, “I just want government to provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to get around regulation and to make our lives better.”