I live, work, and study in Louisville, Kentucky. The local Courier-Journal newspaper reported this weekend about a new option for travelers who would prefer to rent a room in a private home than stay in a hotel room. Residents in Louisville and in thousands of cities around the world are listing rooms for rent through a new website exchange.
The new service is provided by airbnb which links travelers with more than 100,000 hosts across the globe. Travelers can utilize Facebook for a rapid background check on potential hosts, and airbnb provides an insurance guarantee to protect the owners.
This is a delightful development at several levels. First, it provides competition for the hotel industry and consumers generally benefit from more competitive markets. Second, the impersonal Internet provides a way for people to develop personal relationships. The newspaper provides many accounts of people enjoying community with others because of this service.
Most important, this website demonstrates that capitalism (as opposed to socialism and communism) tends to develop or enforce virtue. People tend to emulate biblical values in competitive markets. The article states, “Airbnb’s concept is that people behave well if it’s in their economic self interest. To get more customers, airbnb hosts need good reviews, so they say they treat their guests well. In turn, airbnb guests are also reviewed by their hosts. If guests want to keep renting airbnb rooms, it behooves them to impress the hosts.”
The common perception is that capitalism solely breeds greed and wicked behavior. On the contrary honest competition forces companies to serve the needs of customers in ways that imitate a biblical understanding of virtue.