So, I'd much rather see a tools co-op than yet another tools rental service; perhaps I fail at capitalism in seeing this as something other than a startup opportunity. Maybe this is what the author is getting at, but the article is couched in startup language.
It always struck me, that so many people discard the idea of anarchism either as "a teenage rebel idealism", terrorism, or simply "not going to work". Hence they go back to capitalism or however things work today.
But in the end, what anarcho-communism is trying to achieve is what most of us would agree with: eliminate poverty and exploitation (via equal rights to access means of production), let people have control over their own lives, direct democracy and self-organization. And when people say it's not going to work, it saddens me that we are not even trying to move in that direction. Of course, it may not ever happen, but innovating in this direction surely could lead us to a better world.
Of course, don't take my word for it, as I'm obviously biased. Instead research the topic if you're interested.
But in the end, what anarcho-communism is trying to achieve is what most of us would agree with: eliminate poverty and exploitation (via equal rights to access means of production)
There is no panaceatic system -- only the continual tamping of natural power leavening. To claim that your system, above others, will achieve a system that brings about permanent fairness is to belie a shallow consideration for how power accumulates.
> namely that money tends to lead to more money
In general, yes - there is no such thing as "panaceatic system", instead I was suggesting to trying to find different methods, organization structures to lower the possibility of (or in ideal world eliminating) power accumulation.
The basic enforcement mechanism under every a-c system I have ever read is to "drive them out of town." Thieves, rapists, ect will be banished from group. We have only to look to the past to see just horrible of a system that can be for people who have a different skin color, sexual orientation, ect from the dominant group.
Please expound on this - that statement sounds unintuitive and generally the opposite of what I'd expect
Ethically, I prefer the side of the fence that grimaces at such valuation, even if things are less efficient for that side. Why? Well, because on the other side, the greatest efficiencies are only accessible to the wealthiest people: There is an "efficiency" (quality of life) gradient that is directly tied to personal wealth, and it's disgusting. We've known for a long time now that wealth does not necessarily follow virtue or hard work.
Is there something particular about sewers that prohibits them from being public works? Further, no moral society allows sewage to be solved by pure capitalism, because the obvious consequence would be to let the poor rot in their own filth. Sadly, in many parts of the world, this is the case.
A glance at the world's countless poor and downtrodden shows that global capitalism is a miserable failure, so I think it's unfair to point out theoretic deficiencies of anarchism or other systems as reason to persist with the status quo. "Don't point out the splinter in another's eye when there is a log in your own."
I'm a minarchist/anacro-capitalist/geolibertarian somewhere near there anyway, so I understand your left-anarchism point of view. When I say "win" I was referring to the original comment about the overproduction of drills. When evaluated for wether or not it is efficient to have community shared drills vs individually owned drills.
It doesn't matter to me what someone's personal wealth is. At all. If there were an extra terrestrial that had a vast, planet sized space ship just past pluto I wouldn't be jealous of it. I wouldn't claim it. It is his, why should it matter to me?
The only wealth I take issue with is wealth that was created through fraud, like the original bankers that created fractional reserve lending.
People that don't want the poor to suffer should help the poor. I think the best way to help poor countries is to introduce libertarian-style capitalism (as opposed to state-sponsored or fascist capitalism). The poor need contracts, safety, skills, literacy, communication, and industry; these will lift them up from poverty. Not community drills that don't scale, and lead to the poor staying poor.
So, I'd much rather see a tools co-op than yet
another tools rental service
They had several broken rapid prototyping machines, lathes, drill presses and similar.
I think things getting broken is inevitable, and if I expect other people to fix the things I broke it only seems fair for me to give them something for their trouble. So for-profit tool loans seem like the common sense path IMHO.
Who is Chomsky's Favorite Anarchist?
"Will ownership turn out to be largely a hack people resorted to before they had the infrastructure to manage sharing properly?"
In Oakland there is the Tool Lending Library, where you can borrow tools from a screw driver all the way up to gas lawn mowers, electric trimmers, etc.
So, we know we can cover books, magazines, music, and tools. What other things does it make sense to stick in the library?
When I stay with my cousins in India, they can borrow anything they need on pretty short notice. We wanted to play chess -- my cousin went a few doors down to borrow their chess board. He saw that the cardboard chess board was falling apart -- he spent about half an hour fixing it up with tape.
The closest that you see in America, since the days of Elks Lodges and bowling leagues are behind us, are religious communities. Mormons, for example, have a very tight-knit community of friends that they see frequently. Forget a power drill -- if your house burns down, your fellow Mormons will be there in an hour to get you housed/clothed/fed/taken care of.
I could go buy a chopsaw. I will probably keep using it on occasion. But it's another $200 or so and - I'd rather just borrow one from a friend. But I don't really know who of my friends has a chopsaw I can borrow, I don't want to invest the time to figure that out and then go and get it, and tool rental is ridiculously expensive, and it doesn't generally deliver without even more ridiculous expense.
I also need a nail gun, and the good ones are all air powered, which means I need a compressor, too. Again, I could go rent this stuff, but I want it delivered, and I don't want to pay a price that is pretty close to what it would cost to just buy the tool!
I have several power tools I rarely use. If I could sign up for a service that would let me loan my tools out and borrow tools from others that also join the service, and if the tool sharing service delivered and picked up tools from my home and I requested what I want and made known what I have via an app, I'd sign up right away.
I think it could be done with little cost to the end user.
So - Uber for everything - yes - and Uber for powertools - give it to me now!
This is probably the biggest problem with a sharing/renting economy.
Manufacturing has gotten to the point where producing an object is so inexpensive, it's cheaper to buy than rent. But why should that be? At any given production cost, why isn't it still cheaper to produce fewer and let multiple people use them, either via a renting system or something else? You're making fewer objects and still satisfying demand, so why doesn't this save money?
The reason is the labor and real estate costs of administering such a system. You need people to staff the rental/sharing agency. You also need a conveniently-located (and thus expensive) building where people go to pick up and return the objects. Or, if you're doing delivery, you can choose a more out-of-the-way location, but now you're paying the labor cost of drivers.
Because the overhead of running a sharing system is so high, it's actually cheaper most of the time to allocate one of each object to each person, except for the most expensive objects.
The reason is the labor and real estate costs of
administering such a system.
Rental companies tend to charge for excessive damage to the tools (if they bother to inspect the tools upon return). So that can help to align the incentives.
But it doesn't work as well with individuals lending to each other. Think of all the bad eBay experiences people have reported. The reputation system was supposed to solve that, but apparently it hasn't.
I take good care of my tools, and I wouldn't lend them to a stranger. Especially knowing that I'm not guaranteed payment in the event of loss or damage.
The Home Depot in North America already rents out all those tools. You can usually do it for 4 hours or a day at a time.
I've done this for jack hammers, paint sprayers, post hole augers and concrete mixers. As long as you live near one then it works well.
The best thing about this is the price, very cheap.
You can even rent minor tools like drills:)
I guess home delivery would be the next step?
Why not pay the full price for the tool + delivery (handled by some monthly membership fee, maybe) to keep it as long as you like, and then push a button on your phone and someone shows up from the service to "buy it back" and return it to the cloud. You'd essentially be paying a deposit to cover the item, and then get the money back when the service got it back.
I'd liken this more to the original "netflix-for-everything", with a dash of exec/uber-for-everything.
You could call it something like eBay.
I would love a real tool rental service that had everything and at good prices.
EDIT: my 4x4 cuts were straight. I can't imagine trying to do a 45deg cut with a circular saw...
I used red oak for everything but the legs, which are cedar. I didn't know this until now, but untreated 4x4s are hard to find, much less made of oak. I finally found some at the local specialty lumber factory, but they only had cedar and redwood, and cedar was cheaper. It stains so differently, but I think I got it come out ok. A benefit is that it's a soft wood and much lighter, so the overall weight isn't too bad.
I used General Finish's oil-based stains. First coat is Mahogany (where most of the color comes from), and the second coat American Walnut. When wiping off the second coat, it seemed to remove some of the first coat color sometimes, which was weird (I let the first coat dry for 24 hours). But it's mostly the Mahogany color.
I finished it with 4 coats of Waterlox Tung Oil Finish. That stuff is amazing. It's so easy to apply without any errors, and the tung oil really gives it a rich depth. It's also waterproof. The downside is you have to apply several coats.
(disclaimer: I started it)
I bought most of the tools I use, eg framing nail gun and compressor. I have bought some tools used, like the PEX (plumbing) expanders. For me, buying is cheaper than renting.
I don't know how long I'll need the tools. And I've been very careful to buy models and brands with high resale value.
The contractors I hire often rent tools. Because they're pros. They know the task, correctly estimate the duration, get the job done, and return the tool. When the tool breaks, it's not their problem. And they can pass the rental costs thru to me.
One of the major advancements of mankind was precisely being able to manufacture goods at a minimal marginal cost. Set up a billion dollar stamping machine and now you can produce widgets for a marginal cost of a few cents.
Compare that to centuries past where manufacturing goods of any kind- metal, clothing, or food took enormous amounts of resources compared to today and therefore goods were either too expensive to purchase, or had to be shared. Ironically, computers are probably the single best example of this. Previously they were complex and expensive to make, so the fortunate few who had access to one had to share it. Nowadays you can go to Best Buy and buy your own for a few hundred bucks. That is a huge leap in progress. Why would you want to move the other way?
There are numerous items consumers, buy, use a few times, and then discard or store. There are even more items consumers use, and due to poor quality turn in to trash.
I'm not sure which is more backwards thinking. I am annoyed when something breaks and the cost to repair it exceeds the replacement cost.
There is also a middle ground. For example, many people choose to rent their washer and dryer or living room furniture while most people purchase it. But for an item like a $20 drill, I don't think there is a point at which the small amount of room it takes up outweighs the cost and inconvenience of having somebody come and create the holes for you. Which goes back to my original point- this logic is backwards-looking. There may have been some time in the past when you simply didn't have a tool to make holes so you would have to hire somebody. But because people's time is expensive (as well as the tools) the invention of a battery-operated drill would be viewed as a huge leap in convenience. Now I can just go out to the garage and get my own and in ten minutes do the job that would have previously been very costly.
Uber, Groupon, and the other spoilage / sharing successes are amazing, world changing businesses.
But we're not going to live in a binary future.
Some downsides that are immediately apparent in the drill analogy:
(a) Convenience - You wait for the drill
(b) Exclusivity - Everybody can own the drill (you're not special)
(c) Privacy - Using the drill winds up in somebody's database.
Consumerism will chug along and the sharing-economy will grow along side it, because people will want a choice, and many will continue to want to OWN.
So are Modo, City Carshare, and numerous bikeshare implementations. Except not businesses.
> Exclusivity - Everybody can own the drill (you're not special)
This is different from the current case when you buy a drill for <$100 how? It's a largely-non-consumable commodity.
I wrote a blog post about why a drill is a bad example for the sharing economy: https://www.credport.org/blog/12-Why-a-Drill-is-a-Bad-Exampl...
To me it seems most people interested in the sharing economy only care about to talk about sharing if both sides of the transaction are individuals. If you're open to the idea that the sharing economy could be a transaction between a business and individual, then the market for temporary product rentals suddenly becomes a $40B space. This is nothing new, either. Small businesses have been renting out to other businesses and individuals since the 1950s. And, it's an existing $40B+ industry.
So while sure, peer to peer rentals for small items might never work, that's not to say that an "Uber for rentals" model wouldn't work. Uber started by bringing existing limo drivers online... not by trying to create a new supply side.
Edit: I also find the conclusion and only looking at drills to also be too narrow of a conclusion. Seems like most people when they look at tools only think about power drills. Totally agree that there isn't a $2B market for power drill rentals. However, there is a massive market for all other types of tool rentals.
It's a fairly efficient market which means you can generally buy a used drill for the same price that you can sell it for.
The whole approach would be more likely to work the more expensive the tool (or other object) and the less frequent your need. Thats why car share services work in cities with 1M+ population, but not in the town of 2000 I live in.
The other thing is informal stuff like this happens all the time. I don't own a MIG welder, but my brother does. He doesn't own a plasma cutter but he has a friend that does. Neither of them own a tubing bender, but I do. So tool sharing is common among existing social peer groups, and it works without an "uber" because there is existing trust within the group that if I borrow and break the welder, I'll pay to repair it. When you lend to strangers, you would need a group to guarantee that your $1200 welder will come back in one piece.
Searching for "drill rent" in the NYC page reveals http://newhaven.craigslist.org/tls/3961251107.html
You rent little electric smarts per minute and get free minutes for putting it back at a charging location. The cars can be put back anywhere in the city though and you can find them using the app which shows you all the locations.
A good example that I could use right now is a BMW airbag reset tool. I stupidly disconnected an airbag when replacing my window regulator. Now I need a very basic, $20 on eBay, electronic tool to reset the system and get rid of the warning light. I'd pay $10 to have it by the weekend when I'll do the work, and it could be used many, many times over. Every German car I've ever owned had similar electrical and mechanical specialty tools I've had to buy and can't use when I get a new car.
It's live and open in select cities, 8 weeks old startup.
Problem solved. Live in communities where your peer group is varied enough that you're likely to be friends with someone with what you don't have and this is a non-issue.
Of course, that's not realistic for the vast majority of the U.S. So I suppose, good luck. I'm gonna go chat with my neighbor about something and see if needs any help.
It is kind of ironic that now there is a for-profit, commercial product based on the concept that has been so stigmatized during the Cold War. Perhaps rebranding is what it will take for a less consumerist, less wasteful and more efficient society that can survive global warming and overpopulation.
1) A human's time to come to you
2) A human's time to drill the hole
3) Capex for the drilling machine
Self driving car tech can solve point 1, which would leave a huge incentive to solve point 2. Even a low cost worker can easily cost $50K all-in (including overhead), so if self driving car tech is commonplace that would mean a "robot that drills holes and knows how to drive itself to the customer's wall" can cost up to $50K / risk adjusted interest rate.
Take interest rate at 10%, that means the market will pay upto $500K per such robot, multiply by a few of those in a few hundred cities and you now have a market oppotunity for 1000 hole drilling robots i.e. 500 million USD. It now becomes interesting for VCs.
Now redo this scenario for every little thing people do in life. Of course eventually someone who will invent the "iPhone for robots", a base robot that does the self driving and developers can make apps on top of it to do different tasks. The robot can go back to base to retool when needed.
This is why I am convinced self-driving cars will take automation to a whole new level. I think PG is right when he says ownership could turn out to be a temporary hack for efficient crowd sharing. (I am saying this as a 100% capitalist.)
And that's just the ones who are still trying. Many domains are dead.
And honestly, I suspect that they'll all fail. "Rent anything" is too big of a problem for a startup to solve in one fell swoop. I think someone could succeed at it if they picked a market that is really underserved by other existing options and focus on just a small set of goods, in a specific geographic area, and really work the kinks out before slowly expanding.
Becoming the go-to place for tool rentals in San Francisco before your team burns out is doable. Becoming the "rent anything from anyone" company is not.
What if Amazon had a "Rent for 4 hours for $5" option on their site (right below the buy button).
It'd be a logistics nightmare, but Amazon seems to be really good at solving those.
They're over at http://beta.neighborrow.com/
Disclosure: I used to be contracted as a developer by the guy running it. I wasn't the best developer then, but I was a lot younger too.
I've driven back and forth across the country twice with everything in the trunk of a Honda Civic and still brought a drill with me both times. $13 will get you a corded drill (no battery to wear out) at Harbor Fright. While you're there, get a few more simple hand tools you may need someday.
People should strive to own more tools and learn to do at least some things for themselves. It sounds like this guy's actual problem is that he needs to pick up that drill and start using it more without too much planning. Imagine how good of a coder you'd be if you had to schedule an hour ahead and pay $10 every time you saved a file!
Spend some time in LA if you'd like to see the broken society that develops from outsourcing everything to services performed by cheap labor. Utterly disempowered people floating through life afraid of doing anything besides what they're told, because they have no clue how anything actually functions. And it's not like they save time either, dealing with administrative overhead for every little task and invariably supervising the worker from the shade.
For example, my wife and I have dinner service for 9 in our house, so when we threw a sandwich luncheon for 30, we rented three dozen plates and punch glasses for 24 hours. I think it was about $40, and it was way nicer than using disposables.
Uber make the Taxi service better, more modern, that's all, and it's good enough.
The next Uber IMHO will do the same for another service, any other service, that things like getting your service provider's photo in advance, following their arrival on GPS, no need for cash or credit cards due to a one click payment, known and final quote and pricing, and ability to rate them without the need to answer a recorded phone call with 10 questions, will have value to customers.
Any service that follows this, sharing drills or not, will have a good chance of making it big IMHO.
It all comes down to how much money/headaches are you saving. Let's say the temporary drill/hole making service costs half as much as getting a drill itself ($11 for the service instead of $22 for the drill). If you need to put another shelf in, the service would cost as much as getting the drill in the first place! Also, is it more convenient as a service? Are you sure you want to deal with getting a person to go to your place to put a hole in? Sometimes, I don't want to deal with people and I don't want to wait. Is it worth the effort of ordering on your phone and waiting a hour every time you want to use a drill? Are you saving money in the long run?
I don't think everything can be put in the fancy schmancy "sharing economy." It comes to one simple principle - is something more convenient as a service?
Maybe it is convenient at scale. Maybe renting all the power tools you need or all the equipment you need is more convenient.
Our house has a 1/4 acre yard, huge garden beds, and a drip system. Even with a household of 6 we've got zucchinis, tomatoes, and lemons coming out the wazoo. Every block in our neighborhood has a few giant avocado trees and more and more people seem to be setting up chicken coops.
On the weekends, my kids will pull their wagon around the neighborhood and sell lemons. On a good day, they'll make $25.
Would be cool if people could request some lemons or eggs and a text could be sent to the closest people who might have them.
There will be enough people who use the drill and leave it in a degraded condition (dirty, broken in some way) that a replacement would soon be needed. Is the answer to this accountability? Or are people better-mannered than I give them credit for? How much of an investment in tracking borrowers would be required?
Would love your feedback:
As a first step to solving the problem, we've aggregated much of the data on what's available for rent locally.
As a second step, we're currently experimenting with an online booking flow in event categories and it's going well.
For equipment, most people want immediacy and prefer to just book on the phone. So right now, we're just giving consumers that option. However, I would love to give you the ability to book the impact drill instantly.
Also, I expected a bunch of tools to be listed on this page: https://www.rentabilities.com/united-rentals-richmond-va/. It took me a little bit to figure out to click a category on the left.
I noticed your site is responsive, too. A random technical point is that you would probably benefit from concatenating all of your js/css into 2 js/css files, since on mobile latency is critical.
It's a cool idea though.
Given how cheap a lot of this stuff is, it isn't surprising a proper sharing system hasn't shown up yet.
I don't want to worry about how long I need to possess something at the time I order it. I want to buy it and a repurchase agreement and then sell it back to some marketplace.
Effectiveness is constrained by network adoption/critical mass -- Lyft isn't useful unless there are enough people to have someone available to pick you up when you need them.
>I'm not sure any sort of app or website can replace that level of trust and sharing.
Apps/websites don't replace the trust and sharing, they increase the effectiveness of your local relationships. In a lot of cases, living in the same area carries an amount of trust and sharing. Trusting relationships are actually built upon a certain level of risk that is taken at some point -- you trust your neighbor a lot more after you ask them to keep your key and an eye on your home while you're away for a weekend. So its sort of a chicken and egg question. Is there a lack in trust in local communities because neighbors/community members don't interact, therefore peer-to-peer tools will increase trust? Or will these types of networks not succeed because there isn't enough trust?
The drill analogy only works if you're quickly hiring a handyman to drill the hole, not a delivery person to drop off a drill.
What if for $22 I could have had a reliable person show up at my place within an hour, drill the holes, and go away?
My guess is weak marketing is why every startup in this space will flop.