January 5, 2016 Print

As technology progresses, older business models can fall by the wayside as they become unprofitable — but entrenched interests rarely fade away quietly, instead attempting to capture the regulatory power of the government by collecting subsidies and hobbling their upstart competitors. Frédéric Bastiat, a 19th century French economist, famously satirized this phenomenon with a petition in which candlemakers proposed to blot out the sun, doing away with its unfair solar competition. Atlas Network partner the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has updated this pointed perspective for the viral video age. This time around, it’s the “Coalition of Obsolete Industries” hoping to receive government bailouts.

“There are many industries needing taxpayer support,” insists a representative of fading or long extinct industries like taxi drivers, photo developers, and town criers. “Progress is taking our jobs.”

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has also created a Coalition of Obsolete Industries Facebook page, which calls attention to specific cases of subsidies, tax hikes, and regulation designed to bolster long-established business interests at the expense of their newer competitors — and of the consumers who rely on efficient new services.