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Dear Tom Rogan: Sure Mobile Slave Houses and Brothels Are Technically ‘Free Market,’ But….
A Little Less of the Human Trafficking, Please….
I don’t personally know The Washington Examiner’s Tom Rogan. But from what I’ve seen on television and in writing, I like the guy.
He isn’t a Never Trumper. Which in and of itself is a solid “A” on a personal test for me.
He routinely defends the eminently defensible President Donald Trump. Which is another solid “A” on another personal test for me.
But one of the traps that can befall we people who for a living want less government - is the knee-jerk Free Market Uber Alles default position.
That no matter what the circumstances - government bad, private companies good.
I used to think the world was this black and white. Perhaps related to my growth in cynicism - I have discovered there is at least some grey with which we have to deal.
From the cinematic adventure Fletch:
Fletch: “Well there we’re in kind of a grey area.”
Fletch’s Editor: “Alright, how grey?"
Rogan last week dove headlong into a grey area - without recognizing the indeterminate shade.
“That's how conservatives should describe left-wing efforts to destroy the segment of the gig economy represented by Airbnb, Vrbo, and their various competitors that allow homeowners to let rooms, apartments, or houses to vacationing guests.
“The populist drive to kill off or hinder these services is not at all unrelated to the result of a new YouGov poll suggesting that just shy of 50% of millennials have favorable opinions of socialism.”
To begin, I really do not see the connection between Millennial Socialists and/or Populists - and the Gig Economy.
It’s not Baby Boomers who are gallivanting the planet, grabbing last-minute rides and lodging via smart phone apps. It’s Millennials.
As we’ve oft seen, Millennials say they loathe capitalism - on Twitter and Instagram, via their smart phones, while sipping Starbucks. On their way to their next vacation - in a Gig car…booked digitally by AirBnB. Self-capitalism self-awareness - is not a Millennial strong suit.
Also - I don’t see very much Venn Diagram overlap between Millennials and the Populism movement currently underway. Populism elected Trump. Populism pre-Trump - was the Tea Party Movement.
Sure there are some ever-so-slight populist elements to the Millennials - but you can’t even call it a Millennial Movement. Because Millennials are for the most part inert.
And I refuse to lend the violent-criminal, Socialist likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter the credibility of populism.
Like Rogan, I am a fan of the Gig Economy - including the ability to short-term-rent your car and abode.
Unlike Rogan, I will not ignore the great and growing problems that do in fact exist within the short-term-rental business model.
Rogan asserts all efforts to clean up the messes are simply the lobbyist-funded actions of the hotel industry. And thereby default pretends that no messes actually exist.
Oh but several messes do.
“While searching for the person who grifted me in Chicago, I discovered just how easy it is for users of the short-term rental platform to get exploited….
“In 2015, Airbnb spent at least $8 million on lobbying efforts to fight back an ordinance in San Francisco that required all Airbnb hosts to register their units with the city in a lengthy process….
“When New Orleans overhauled their short-term rental laws in August, for example, the budget-strapped city mostly left oversight of the new rules in the hands of Airbnb.
“For now, the rest of us are left to deal with the fallout.”
I’m all for AirBnB self-policing - if they in fact will. It appears they will not. No matter how bad the things transpiring under their auspices….
“(R)eports of gang-related drug dealing and ‘pop-up brothels’ in accommodation rented online have added a new dimension to these issues.
“Sharing economy platform Airbnb now has 7m listings in more than 100,000 cities, making it larger than the eight biggest hotel groups combined.
“As the company readies for its initial public offering (IPO) in 2020, the legal grey areas in which its hosts operate are escalating concerns about transparency and accountability - especially in relation to human trafficking and modern slavery.”
It ain’t just me aware of the grey areas:
“Airbnb’s position is that it has ‘no control over the conduct of hosts and disclaims all liability.’”
Get that? AirBnB spends tens of millions of dollars lobbying to keep government out - and instead be left alone to self-regulate and self-police.
But then AirBnB publicly asserts they “disclaim all liability.” Which means they aren’t responsible for self-regulating and self-policing.
Up to and including when their service is used for human trafficking and slavery.
Despite Rogan’s assertion, I absolutely do not want government to crush the Gig Economy. I want less government - always and everywhere.
But less government - is not no government.
No government - is Somalia.
And you know what they have in Somalia? Human trafficking and slavery.
Just like they have in too many AirBnB properties.
Rogan and AirBnB should aim higher than Somalia.
A little grey - and a little government - are a part of the world as it actually exists.
This first appeared in Red State.