Let’s do a little biblical analysis. Take a look at how heart-led wisdom can affect how you view things, in the sense that you aren’t restricted by mere logic.
An article on Zero Hedge talks about how The Sharing Economy Was Always A Scam. It’s long and most of you don’t need to read it. You can probably guess some of what the article suggests. This was a sweet sounding idea marketed in terms of platitudes: efficient use of resources, sharing, rebuilding the human nexus, etc. The article goes on to show how it was all an entrepreneurial ploy to restrict the amount of money going to those involved at the ground level and sucking up a lot of left over excess through management fees.
So all that stuff like Uber and Lyft were designed to short-change the drivers and riders and fatten the companies’ bank accounts. You get robbed and feel good about it. You can find articles that will explain some factors from a social sciences perspective.
First is that folks who actually own the stuff being shared bear a high liability for cheaters of the system. You would think something with an institutional trust management factor would avoid this, but when the nexus of activity is a cellphone app, the weak link is the phone infrastructure.
There are a significant portion of people who are pathological destroyers. They become skillful at gaming the system and destroying for the simple amusement they get from it. They’ll grab a cheap burner phone, create a fake ID for something like AirBnB and rent an accommodation for the sole purpose of destroying it. The destroyers even go so far as to hire proxies who will come across as normal and trustworthy, just to secure access. All it takes is one destroyer in the system to wipe out dozens of resource owners. There is no way to demand compensation from the ghostly destroyers. The system tends to find ways to avoid liability for this, of course, and the horror stories and resulting fall in participants kills the system.
Second is the provocation of anyone whose livelihood rests on the previous system. Taxi companies hate Uber; hotels hate AirBnB, and retailers hate short-term private rentals. Governments hate anything that reduces tax revenue by dodging regulation. This kills the brilliant new ideas for sharing.
Third is that the people who own the resources being shared got into this for the money, not for the community. That sense of human contact is nice, and it can become the thing that keeps you involved, but in the long run, it is still about the money for both the owner and user. There are too many ways rising new technology kills the deal. Why “borrow” a movie DVD when you can stream it for less? The materialistic model calls for getting more for less, and increasing revenue to grow the operation. Once you get into a sharing system, the economics flatten or fall off. It starts to feel like a waste of effort.
And from a heart-led perspective, this is the ultimate failure. We have a Merchant Culture orientation at the heart of American social assumptions. You cannot build a true human trust system on materialism. The only way to invoke trust is to leave the American culture. You have to build a different culture, a different society that draws people together through a power and purpose that is far greater than profit and amassing capital.
Frankly, we treat the human nexus as a mere instrument, the means to what really matters: divine favor. In Biblical Law, the whole purpose of all material goods and services, the sole aim of economic activity, is blessing the covenant family. This is were you find God’s favor. So we don’t grow a company to increase revenue; we increase revenue so we can grow the number of our covenant family involved. We manage the business to fit the size of the family and all profit is dedicated to enriching the whole clan. While we keep the door wide open to folks who will embrace the covenant and grow the family, we want our businesses to restrict the participation of outsiders except as clients and customers.
We are aware of economic factors, but we rely on God’s revelation, not the “dismal science” to guide our decisions. We aren’t looking for commercial opportunities, but pray for guidance in the mission. We accept the idea that the mission might be a business failure on some terms. The goal isn’t profit, but divine glory through obedience and blessings.
We know that you cannot create community through business activity. The community has to exist first, and everything that follows feeds the purpose of the community itself.