When sleeping between a rock and a hard place, do nothing.

As more cities in America go bankrupt, file for bankruptcy, or are just getting out of bankruptcy they're not only searching to pump up their revenue, but are eager to retain the steady stream, even is it thins.

So it's little surprise both city officials and the folks who lived in their cash-strapped towns are getting fed up with Big Tech and the sharing economy's permissionless innovation, which is looking less like some beautiful hippy mantra and more like the byproduct of a capitalist free-for-all, the likes of which America has not seen since the days before child labor laws were enacted. But it gets kinda complicated when the same city whose mayor praises you, also has to make a show of listening to their actual constituents. Especially when your city has the fastest growing wage gap in the country. So what do you do? According to today's news in San Francisco, you do nothing.

I've already written about Uber and Lyft, misleading business practices and shady deals. But in this case
it's not how you get around, but where you stay. Airbnb is already feeling the heat, and well they should. Big Data wet dreams are one thing. Reality is another. Just like downloading music illegally, the many transactions on Airbnb are illegal in most cities. Landlords are evicting people for not following the law, which is well within their right. On the flip side, landlords also wanting to make some extra cash are displacing residents who already live there. They are also taking apartments off the market so they can rent them out like hotels, thereby causing a housing shortage. And then of course a lot of users are finding it easy to skirt the tax law, thereby costing cities revenue. Yay, disruption?

Here's the funny part. Big Tech has no qualms collecting data on us. Yet when legislation was proposed that anyone wanting to rent out their place via Airbnb register with the city, Airbnb is the kettle calling the pot black. In a blog post on Airbnb's website, David Hantman wrote:

There are certainly provisions in this proposal that could be problematic to our hosting community, including a registration system that could make some of their personal information public, so there is much work to be done to ensure that we pass legislation that is progressive, fair, and good for San Francisco and our hosting community.

Personal information like what? Your address? Because that's what you willingly add to Airbnb. Your SSN for tax records? What exactly is so troubling? Sounds like Robin Hood to the rescue. Only Robin Hood is just as much a robber baron as the one he pretends to fight for.

Despite is "concerns," Hantman agreed this legislation is a good "first step. I'm not surprised. After a lot of time spent debating, Time magazine reported the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will keep its 90-day cap in place when the host isn't at home, and allow unlimited days when the host is present. They are keeping the cap in place. In other words, after a lot of debate, they did nothing. Both sides can hail it as a "first step." In San Francisco's case it's a nice way of appeasing the disgruntled working class San Franciscans while doing nothing. And it's a "let's work together," act on Airbnb's part who don't want legislation bringing the party down on one hand, while on the other, making sure San Franciscans to stay loyal, lest they wake up one day and realize that more and more they're becoming subservient to the promises of Big Tech. In reality they are living in a dream. Buying into a pyramid scheme that allows few to grow, while the others manage only to keep their heads above water. By kicking the can down the road with its great "first step," San Francisco's governing body has given its tacit approval to the entire charade. The status quo lives on.

Makes you wonder how any of them sleep.

AnonymousCoward's picture
Michelle Shocked's picture

Excellent editorial! A terse tightly constructed critique of the exploitation at the heart of all this innovation, disruption and sharing.

Dimi Gronnings's picture

I hope you realise that this is exactly the sort of rhetoric luddites used to employ against industrialisation.

Dabitch's picture

> luddites

One more and I'll have Bingo.

kidsleepy's picture