In 1845, Frederic Bastiat parodied protectionists with his Petition of the Candlemakers, who called on the government to protect them from foreign competition: We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for your — what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice — your practice without theory and without principle.We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the
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We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for your — what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice — your practice without theory and without principle.Here's Fran O'Sullivan in the Herald:
We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us.
We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds — in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country, a country that cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today to so unequal a combat.
Be good enough, honourable deputies, to take our request seriously, and do not reject it without at least hearing the reasons that we have to advance in its support.
First, if you shut off as much as possible all access to natural light, and thereby create a need for artificial light, what industry in France will not ultimately be encouraged?
Rod Sims' report on the impact of Google and Facebook on Australian media and advertising could just as easily have been written for New Zealand.The Sun reduces demand for candles by being that much more efficient at providing light (in daytime) for those wishing to see; online platforms may reduce demand for advertising in traditional media by being that much more efficient at providing viewers for advertisements for those wishing to purchase access to those particular viewers.
Pity it wasn't.
The preliminary findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry confirm what most of us in the New Zealand news business are so painfully aware — Alphabet's Google and Facebook have decimated the revenues of traditional news media (print and digital) as they siphoned up the bulk of the advertising market.
But despite the trend being obvious, Governments — current and prior — have not been troubled sufficiently by the behemoths predatory behaviour in the advertising market to do anything about it.
What is admirable about the ACCC report is the forensic probing of the way Google and Facebook have effectively ripped off journalists' work.So when an outfit like the Daily Mail rips off an exclusive that another paper worked on, Google and Facebook are to blame? Was it never the case that stories broken by smaller newspapers were ripped off by larger ones with bigger reach before 1999? The public-good nature of this stuff is hardly new.
"This reduces value for the news businesses that have invested a lot of money and time in creating the content. Journalists may work many days or weeks to break an exclusive online story and a competitor can quickly reproduce that story, post it on a rival site which, due to the reach of the digital platforms, may draw traffic away from the original source of the story," says Sims.