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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Question for Thomas Friedman: Is Airbnb So Cool and Hyperconnected That it Can Put People in Fire Traps?

Question for Thomas Friedman: Is Airbnb So Cool and Hyperconnected That it Can Put People in Fire Traps?

Sunday, 20 July 2014 16:50

It would be nice if someone could force Thomas Friedman to learn a little bit about the topics of his columns. Today he ran another ad for Airbnb, touting its hyperconnectiveness. While Friedman is ecstatic over the company's hyperconnectiveness, he fails to answer the most basic questions.

Can Airbnb guarantee that its rooms are safe? If not, can we sue and imprison its executives if people who use the service die in fires? What about the nuisance of living next to a hotel room when you paid to buy a condo or rent an apartment? Can neighbors of popular guest rooms sue Airbnb for the diminution of the value of their homes?

These questions are probably too complex for someone like Thomas Friedman, but perhaps the NYT could hire someone to seriously deal with the issues that Thomas Friedman raises.


Note: An earlier version raised questions about local and state taxes, which Airbnb reports it tries to collect.

Comments (9)Add Comment
The billionaires and multimillionaires just love Friedman
written by Dave, July 20, 2014 5:47
There it is in black and white twice a week, good reasons to seek out any way to make money regardless of the effects upon the middle class, whether it causes wars, economic destruction, who cares when you're rich?
It Takes a Village Idiot
written by Last Mover, July 20, 2014 9:05
“I think we’re going to move back to a place where the world is a village again — a place where a lot of people know each other and trust each other ... and where everyone has a reputation that everyone else knows,” said Chesky, 32. “On Airbnb, everyone has an identity.”

Exactly. Especially in America where the middle and lower class are scrambling to find a place to live as the unemployed, underemployed and underpaid with no benefits.

The solution of course is hyperconnectivity. It breaks down barriers of access to all that excess housing capacity going to waste.

Talk about a working spot market. Living in your parents basement need no longer be a burden to them. Just make it available on a daily and hourly basis while you're out looking for a job to pull in a hefty income with some left over for mom and dad.

With hyperconnectivity you can wait till the last minute to rent it out, get a complete background check within an hour, then sell the personal information of clients to Big Corporate Data for a handsome fee as well.

As your reputation gains momentum within the village of reputations everyones' income will soar like those with high eBay scores for their primary day jobs.

Once again Thomas Friedman solves an economic crisis with a simple yet brilliant idea from the supply side.

Somehow, somewhere out there is a room waiting just for you with your name on it. Hyperconnect to find it to reduce the vacancy rate of underutilized capital and labor in the Great Recession.

Restore America to its past glory of living in a village with those you know and trust, when the 99% had a job that paid a living wage.
Curse you, Dean Baker...
written by sglover, July 20, 2014 11:15
...fro prodding me into actually following the link to the nitwit's op-ed. I wanted to see if he ever actually **used** the service he's shilling, because I don't see Friedman as a guy who strays very far from the Marriott/Four Seasons expense account circuit. (The cab drivers covering the airport-Marriott run give the best interviews.)

Anyway, even given the low expectations I have for that nitwit, I was gobsmacked by the piece. It's pure stenography, a (very) mildly edited press release straight from the AirBnB marketing department. The NYT actually **pays** Friedman for this cut'n'paste rot?!?! They could have printed the same text, verbatim, as an ad -- at least they'd get some revenue from it.
Low rent version?
written by bakho, July 21, 2014 5:03
Is AirBNB just for Yuppies? or is there a low rent version?
My neighbor has all kinds of people at her apartment when she is not there. Many of them get into fights, are noisy, have loud parties, shout at each other, use the F-word several times in each sentence and behave like drug dealers. These outsiders have no commitment to community standards. We call it running a flop house. The landlord has finally moved to evict as the other tenants have threatened to leave. I don't know that she uses AirBNB but it is a detriment to the neighborhood and sleeping at night. The police have had to break things up at least a half dozen times in the last 2 months. I suspect AirBNB has limits to expansion.
written by Kat, July 21, 2014 5:29
Sell unregulated, untaxed hotel rooms and end up in a Tom Friedman column. Sell unregulated, untaxed cigarettes and end up dead:

Same old story.
written by Ryan, July 21, 2014 6:27
Are you disrespecting the collective wisdom of NYC cab drivers?
Friedman Column is an Informercial
written by Robert Salzberg, July 21, 2014 7:54
HomeAway.com is the largest provider in the world for vacation rentals and is basically doing the same thing as AirBnb. Bedandbreakfast.com, and Craigslist are among the big players in the internet rental market. Real estate companies specializing in vacation rentals have a strong presence on the internet.

Specifically, HomeAway has owner profiles and a guest comment section so I see nothing new in AirBnb besides Friedman's hype. AirBnb is not a game changer like BItcoin or Zipcar.

NYT editors should not have published what amounts to a free infomercial disguised as a opinion column about a relatively new company in an already crowded market.

What's In a Name?
written by Larry Signor, July 21, 2014 8:36
Here, in the Shenandoah Valley, we have similar type businesses that we call Bed and Breakfast joints. Regulated, taxed and profitable businesses with an internet presence. Anyone else ever heard of them? The only innovation AirBnB offers is the sketchy legality of the model.
Select the readers' picks to see what readers really think of Friedman
written by John Wright, July 21, 2014 9:33
Again the NYTimes readers' comments, particularly the Readers' picks told what readers actually thought of this Friedman column.

It is noteworthy the comments submissions on this column were shut down after 106 comments, possibly implying not many readers thought this Friedman column merited reading and commenting.

Part-time NY Times employee Paul Krugman's July 17, 2014 column elicited 625 comments or almost exactly 6x the number of Friedman's comments.

Perhaps the lack of readers' comments indicates that NY Times readers are treating Friedman with degree of apathy that even his supporters on the Times can not ignore.

Why pay big bucks to Friedman if the readers one hopes to influence have stopped reading his columns?

One can hope...

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.