Should You "Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be"? (Survey)

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Screen capture. Classic Comics

TreeHugger has been talking forever about the sharing economy, since the days we covered it as PSS or Product Service Systems. In one of our earliest posts TreeHugger Warren wrote about how "You have the lawn mower, Bob next door has a circular saw and Nancy across the road has a sewing machine and Jim three doors down has the trailer. And you each share for the small time you really need the use, rather than work all hours the clock sends so you can afford stuff that sits idle most of its life, gathering dust."

Yet when Sami wrote about sharing his LEAF while he was away, the response from a commenter was that “I don't lend out my LEAF, nor any other vehicle I own” and another wrote “As a rule I don't lend anything to anyone that I can't afford to lose or repair.”

People often justify this approach by pointing to Shakespeare, to Polonius in Hamlet who said “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” But Polonius was “ the consummate hypocrite; he is the most odoriferous of the "rotten in Denmark." For, he instructs his son in virtue when he has none.”

Perhaps I am too trusting; I have been doing it forever and only had one sort of bad experience when I found that a neighbour had used my Rabbit convertible to transport loads of bricks, which is not exactly what it was built for. But the car was fine, my outboard motorboat is fine, my tools are fine, and when I need something I don’t have (like last week, a pickup truck to take a dead fridge to the dump) I can borrow it from the guy who needed my boat.

It seems to me that sharing is a pretty wonderful thing; it lets you get by with owning a lot less stuff, particularly those things that you use rarely. Polonius claims the “ loan oft loses both itself and friend” but I think it makes friends and builds community. Polonius claims it “dulls the edge of husbandry” but you don’t have to own everything and to manage everything on your own, that’s what is so great about having neighbours.

What do you think?