The Next Uber for Republicans?
Over the last few weeks, the U.S. media have hyped the growing love affair between Republicans and the ride-hailing service, Uber. The reasons why are no mystery. Extolling the virtue of Uber and its ilk in the "sharing economy" lets the GOP seem hip, offer the façade of a future looking economic vision and accelerate the shift of workers from jobs into no-benefits "gigs," all while supposedly showcasing "the unfettered market leading to economic prosperity without the intrusive hand of government regulation." As Jeb Bush recently charged after getting his first Uber ride to visit a San Francisco start-up:
Now, these kinds of companies cause mental dissonance for people who think they can plan the future of the economy from Washington D.C. -- people like Hillary Clinton...
We have to challenge the assumptions, regulations and laws that protect most of Washington from true digital disruption - and that means the liberal ideology which would squash so much innovation if it could.
Big government liberals fundamentally can't embrace digital innovation because it threatens the way they govern.
In that case, Bush and his fellow Republican White House wannabes must be thrilled about the coming wave of digital services for the sharing economy.*
Take, for example, Borshun. The abortion services platform now in development enables women and physicians to meet anonymously for reproductive health care procedures which may be otherwise inaccessible due to draconian local government regulation. Using the convenient mobile app, women can find abortion providers in their area. Built-in crowdfunding technology lets low-income patients raise funds to offset the cost of the procedure and even replace pay lost due to time off for the often lengthy trips involved. And thanks to its tight integration with Uber, women can hail "Freedom Rides" to take them to the care-givers and facilities that may be in another county or even another state.
Thanks to the Supreme Court, all states must now perform and recognize same-sex marriages. But if your justice of the peace refuses to recognize marriage equality, don't get mad. Get even with Nupshill. Just tap the Nupshill app for your iOS, Android or Windows phone and find someone qualified to perform your vows just minutes away. With Nupshill's MinisterMaker, you can become an ordained minister in minutes and start making extra cash to help pay tuition, the rent or even your own wedding. And with its breakthrough DivineRetribution technology, Nupshill can initiate termination proceedings and a civil suit against any government clerk or official who on "religious liberty" ground who refuses to do their job as a public servant.
Now, almost any medical procedure, like any product or service, can needlessly go horribly wrong. That's where Jaqqpott comes in. The new personal injury platform (or "PIP") provides a one-stop online marketplace where potential plaintiffs and trial lawyers can meet for some "jackpot justice." Whether you're hit by a car, had the wrong leg amputated, poisoned by fracking fluid or had a loved-one killed by out-of-control police, the Jaqqpott app lets hundreds of attorneys bid for your business. Hourly, retainer or contingency fee, you choose your preferred method of payment. And to make sure you get the maximum cash award you're due, Jaqqpott's patented "Class Action Algorithm" automatically finds you fellow plaintiffs and the friendliest jurisdiction for your case.
If the Koch Brothers are strong in your jurisdiction, getting your local power utility to buy back the energy you created with your solar panels or wind turbine can be a big problem. Unless, that is, you use MiGryd. Under development now with partners including Tesla, SolarCity, GE, 3M and IBM, MiGryd lets home owners, property managers and small businesses store and resell the power they've generated to fellow "Grydders." With its disruptive BatteryXchange app, MiGryd lets users (called "Youtilities") sell extra juice for extra cash. Potentially the killer app for Tesla's Powerwall, MiGryd plans to deliver on its slogan, "Power to the People."
People, it turns out, don't just need power. The people--all of them-- need someplace to live, too. And as recent decisions by the Supreme Court and the Obama administration show, the goals of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 remain elusive. Legally sanctioned racial segregation in housing may be over, Justice Kennedy wrote, but "its vestiges remain today, intertwined with the country's economic and social life." DeeSeg wants to do its part to help erase those vestiges. An open-source platform tightly integrated with Airbnb and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD's) grant-making and Section 8 voucher databases, DeeSeg empowers lower-income Americans to find rental housing regardless of their ZIP code. As cities like Portland and San Francisco encourage home owners to become landlords by building "accessory dwelling units" (ADU's) on their property, DeeSeg will bring them a whole new class of tenants they previously overlooked.
In a recent study reported by Emily Badger of the Washington Post, NYU's Samuel Fraiberger and Arun Sundararajan argue that in the long-run, "The people who stand to benefit the most from new peer-to-peer rental marketplaces for everything from cars to gadgets are low-income consumers." The "true promise of the sharing economy," Fraiberger and Sundararajan explain, may eventually be "as a force that democratizes access to a higher standard of living."
Soon enough, we'll find out if that's what Republicans really want.
* Borshun, Nupshill, JaqqPott, MiGryd and DeeSeg are entirely fictional, as are any of their partnerships with any company, real or imagined. Any resemblance to start-ups living or dead is purely coincidental.