Isaac Lara, JD/MPA Candidate at Columbia Law and Harvard Kennedy School
Thanks for taking our questions, Ian.

How do you believe technologies stemming from the "sharing economy" are influencing the distribution of wealth in this country?

I ask after learning that while Uber is widely credited for creating thousands of jobs by enabling people to become their own bosses, the company charges drivers 30% commission. This leaves some drivers to make less than minimum wage. Source is below.
Thank you Isaac, really interesting point on Uber, I hadn’t seen the article.

I have heard a couple of Uber drivers in London saying that they earn more and have more flexible work as a result of not having to work through mini-cab companies. But this is anecdote not research. I guess Uber is disintermediating the cab companies which act as a link between customer and driver. Clearly bad for minicab company margins and revenues, it’s a harder call on the allocation of gains and losses between cab owner/drivers and customers.

Another aspect is that we are probably doing a pretty poor job of measuring the value of new technologies to consumers because so much of it shows up in an increased consumer surplus. (On a personal level I am struck by how, for instance, Google Maps and Trip Adviser have changed my experience of travel – even though I don’t pay a penny for them).
Continue reading...