I totally agree with your point about added convenience and efficiency for society as a whole and the improvement enjoyed by particular individuals or businesses. Our ideas are not mutually exclusive.
The original premise of Paul Graham’s article and Tim O’Reilly’s rewrite is that there are problems with too much income inequality and that there are companies and activities that are degenerative to the economy because they just pull out wealth without adding value.
One of the foundations of the American Dream is that through hard work and playing by the rules you can make it in this country. However, we’ve seen a doubling of worker productivity since 1973 with stagnant wages, while there is an astronomical increase in the wealth of the few.
This raises the question if the economy has become a zero sum game — that revenues derived from increased worker productivity are being transferred to the wealthy.
And that comes back to my asking O’Reilly on his opinion of the new sharing economy. I pointed out a number of companies that do not seem to increase the GDP; they are redistributing a lot of wealth to company founders, while gig workers are earning less than the traditional workers they are replacing. I also cited an article by Forbes.
So if you disagree with my analysis, please explain how sharing economy companies are actually creating value. As O’Reilly writes:
You have to ask yourself, though, whether a Silicon Valley startup is more like the woodworker who made five chairs, or more like the high frequency trader.