Why Hollande is wrong to think an iTax can help French culture

(Source: Reuters)

Socialist president Francois Hollande is testing the limits of self-satire with a new plan to tax internet-connected devices. Our technology reporter James Titcomb:

The new tax of up to four per cent could be included in next year’s budget, France’s culture minister Aurelie Filippetti said.

“Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help creators,” Filippetti said.

Hollande has been scrambling to find ways to continue to fund its film makers as its economy struggles.

The President yesterday said he was “fundamentally attached to the defence” of France’s national culture.

We can be thankful that ideas like this have been dismissed in the UK. A Guardian piece in which the writer called for a tax on broadband to fund newspapers was laughed away.

It's not up to our politicians to decide on the entertainment that we enjoy. The consumer keeps content providers accountable, by letting them know what they value with their wallets. Government elites are far more likely to ossify our culture, and Hollande's proposal is a prime example of this.

Touchscreen technology has been getting more powerful and much cheaper in recent years, and it's bringing people news and entertainment quickly. As a result, we've seen people embrace it. This consumption won't herald the end of French cinema, but it is a sign of how times change. Penalising technology consumers for enjoying these new innovations makes no more sense than the 19th century luddite crusades.

There is much to be celebrated about what the traditional arts have produced, but this should not come at the cost of crippling other artistic qualities. We should prize our culture for what it is so often is - dynamic and reactive.

When we let bureaucrats decide what we should enjoy, things tend to take a turn for the worse. Our markets deliver art well, they thend to deliver things that people want. That our elites don't like this is a problem for them, not us.