A new and alarming mash-up of Silicon Valley technology and Wall Street greed is thrusting upon us the latest economic fad: the so-called "sharing economy." In reality, workers at companies like Uber and Airbnb have little choice but to hire themselves out for ever-smaller jobs and wages, with no safety net, while the companies profit.
Three of the nation's largest landlords are holding talks with Airbnb about allowing apartment dwellers to market rooms through the companies' network in exchange for a slice of the revenue. This is a big deal because it would mean a fundamental change in the Airbnb business model, one that could very quickly morph into massive apartment buildings basically becoming regulation-free hotels.
For years, I wanted to update "The Gift of the Magi." Like O.Henry, I was slow to get to it. Unlike O.Henry, some of my story is nonfiction; the homeless woman and the nurse really did have a holiday miracle in Kansas City in 1990. Unlike O.Henry, it took me more than three hours to write my story. And as for the emotion: yes, I felt it, all of it. As I hope you do.
It's really easy to glance at the rating, scroll through the pictures, check the price and check out. If I was booking a hotel, I'd never have to think twice: I expect all my hotel comforts to be sitting and waiting there for me. But unfortunately, hotel comforts aren't standard in residential buildings.