Posts tagged ‘TNR’

August 9, 2011

Amazon.com and Paying Taxes

by Vince

John Judis at The New Republic has an interesting piece on Amazon’s intentional efforts to avoid taxation in several states that direly need revenue. After all, Amazon’s ability to avoid charging sale’s tax provides you and I opportunities to buy books (as well as plethora of other items) for dirt cheap.

This subject, which has been intensified lately due to Borders declaring bankruptcy, may be a good time for us all to question when to buy books online and when to buy in a store. What logic comes into play when we choose one outlet over the other? For me, if I can find a book for a penny plus ~$4 s&h on Amazon, I will go with that option over a store that may charge anywhere in the upward vicinity of $27 plus tax. If I can find a book in a store for a few dollars more than Amazon, I will go with the store. Judis elaborates on the ripple effects of the latter choice: “local realtors sustain neighborhoods and suburban malls; they fund local newspapers and theater groups. They are part of a community in a way that Amazon or Overstock—its Utah-based partner in fighting state sales taxes—will never be.” It is also worth noting that Amazon would not me Amazon without bookstores or trading houses who originally sell the books that we find online for a low price.

July 6, 2010

American Exceptionalism and the World Cup

by Vince

I am not a fan of soccer at all but I respect its world popularity and the skills of its players. TNR carries on in the conversation of soccer within America:

Americans find some of soccer’s features culturally off-putting, and that, too, limits its popularity. Living in the land of plenty, they like scoring—baseball, football and basketball have all changed their rules several times to promote more of it—but in soccer, goals are scarce. Soccer matches often end in ties, and Americans dislike ties, which are impossible under the rules of baseball, basketball, and the collegiate version of American football, and extremely rare in professional football.

Soccer, and the World Cup, have a final appeal to others that is missing in the United States—again not to the detriment of Americans. They are vehicles for nationalism. The historian Eric Hobsbawm made this point when he wrote that “the imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of 11 named people.” The World Cup provides, for hundreds of millions of people, the occasion for intense emotional identification with the countries in which they live. Americans can be nationalistic too, but evidently do not require a sporting event to feel or express this sentiment, which recalls a story from another sport.

July 6, 2010

A Few Bits on Liberal Interventionalism

by Vince

TNR provides the scoop through their Entanglements outlet:

“…when all was said and done, we knew too little about the places in which we thought we had a duty to intervene to assume the mantle of advancing, as, indeed, we believed we were doing, the cause of freedom.”

The American intervention in Iraq secured a de facto Kurdish state, unseated Sunni political domination and sounded the death-knell for Christianity in Iraq, since the reality is that it was Saddam who protected the Iraqi Christians. Neither they nor the Yazidis can expect any such indulgence from the Shi’a, or from the Kurds for that matter. Are we Americans really wise enough to weigh the costs and the benefits of such interventions? My own view is that history shows that we are not, and because we are not climbing down from our plinth would be anything but immorality or dereliction.