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Just say no to The Smart Fund

Summary:
The Smart Fund is the idea that those who sell the gizmos upon which digital art is appreciated could chip in some sum from those sales to subsidise the digital art.The Smart Fund is proposed as a collaboration between creators and performers, technology companies and the Government. It provides a direct way for tech manufacturers to invest in, grow, empower, and enrich the cultural DNA of our society, by supporting the creativity for which the UK is globally renowned. The Smart Fund places a small one-off levy on to mobiles, laptops, PCs and devices that are built to allow people to store and download content.These small payments, the equivalent of 1-3% of the sales value, are paid into a central fund that is then distributed to creators to help them sustain a living from their content,

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The Smart Fund is the idea that those who sell the gizmos upon which digital art is appreciated could chip in some sum from those sales to subsidise the digital art.

The Smart Fund is proposed as a collaboration between creators and performers, technology companies and the Government. It provides a direct way for tech manufacturers to invest in, grow, empower, and enrich the cultural DNA of our society, by supporting the creativity for which the UK is globally renowned.

The Smart Fund places a small one-off levy on to mobiles, laptops, PCs and devices that are built to allow people to store and download content.

These small payments, the equivalent of 1-3% of the sales value, are paid into a central fund that is then distributed to creators to help them sustain a living from their content, support and bring together communities, and put different parts of the UK on an equal footing.

If the hardware manufacturers wish to do this then good luck to them and all who sail in the scheme.

But that, of course, is not what is actually being proposed. Based on the French scheme this is in fact a tax. That is, it’s not a cooperation at all, it’s a forcing.

At which point just a couple of problems. One is that usual one of the hypothecation of tax revenue. If we can tax hardware then why should the tax be spent upon the arts? Why not upon saving babbies in the NHS from the midwives? Say, just for one example. Gaining tax revenue is one thing, disposing of it another, the ability to tax one issue is not proof of where that revenue should be spent.

There’s also the point that we’ve already got tax spent upon the arts. The Arts Council, the lottery, there is already considerable subsidy out there. What’s the case for more?

But the big issue here is the very idea itself. For that hardware itself is indeed what we all consume digital products upon. We spend vast amounts too. Apparently some £2.1 billion on “over the top video”, £5.4 billion on esports and video games. The sector as a whole is worth £60 billion and change including advertising - which does support a significant amount of digital production.

It appears that it’s now easier than ever to gain revenue from producing digital products, art even. Well, assuming that one is producing art that anyone is willing to pay for that is. And, if people are producing art that no sentient being wishes to pay for then why should those same sentient beings be taxed to pay for it?

They shouldn’t of course. So, just say no to The Smart Fund. It’s merely another attempt by the arts establishment to force you to pay for what they - but not you - desire. The correct response to which is pay for your own art desires, Matey.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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