Let's Make 2014 "The Year of Sharing"
The new year is always a time of reflection and renewed enthusiasm for creating a happier, more fulfilling life for one’s family, community, and self. Here at the Center for a New American Dream, we believe that the rise of the sharing economy will go a long way toward achieving that goal in 2014, which is why we were saddened to read a recent op-ed by Steven Strauss equating the growth of the sharing economy to the death of the American Dream.
Mr. Strauss purports that the sharing economy will not only catalyze greater inequality in the United States, but work against jobseekers—especially those without a college education. This could not be further from the truth. Mr. Strauss is continuing to use old paradigms to discuss a new, more sustainable and community-oriented means of consumption. The sharing economy’s goal isn’t to play a part in the “buy, buy, buy” mentality of consumers today, but to rewrite what it means to be a consumer.
The essence of the sharing economy boils down to a simple question: do we need to own things in order to get utility out of them? Why waste both our natural and financial resources to own things that we really don’t need to keep in our possession all the time? Whether through businesses (Airbnb, Zipcar), community resources (seed libraries, tool libraries), or simply sharing with neighbors, the collaborative consumption movement is rewiring our ideas as a nation about ownership. Sharing is for truly for everyone—even those with high-salary professorships like Dr. Strauss.
The bottom line is this: the old economy—which created our current income inequality gap—wasn’t working, wasn’t sustainable, and wasn’t supporting our communities. We welcome this fresh approach, and urge you to give it a try.
[Illustration via Grist]