France is considering a "Google tax" on internet search engines to raise money to plough back into creative industries weakened by the digital revolution. Fine: so we should put a tax on new creative industries to support old ones, is that what they are suggesting? At that rate they will be putting a tax on digital cameras to support the polaroid camera industry, a tax on polaroids to support the colour film industry, a tax on colour film to support the black and white film industry, and a tax on black and white film to support the print engravers.
Of course, the tax proposal is being justified on the ground that the internet has promoted piracy – illegal downloads of music tracks, for example. Then again, the music industry is working out its own clever strategies to deal with this new reality. And I haven't noticed an immediate drying up of creative music since the internet arrived, perhaps quite the opposite.
The French should go back to their Bastiat, who drafted a spoof petition from the candle makers, urging government to legislate that all windows should be shuttered to prevent the 'unfair competition' of the sun. Read it here, mes amis (English translation here).