David Streitfeld's Times writeup on Amazon's latest customer-service push is generally informative, but he buries the lede. Here's his explanation as to why the retailer is putting up new warehouses all over the country: This multibillion-dollar building frenzy comes as Amazon is about to lose perhaps its biggest competitive edge — that the vast majority of its customers do not pay sales tax. After negotiations with lawmakers, the company is beginning to collect taxes in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and other states. But Amazon hopes that the warehouses will allow it to provide better service, giving it the ability to up-end the retailing industry in an entirely new way. So they needed a new way to have an edge, and they happened to go with more warehouses?
Do you remember what the world was like before Walmart? Can you imagine a world without the retailer (again)? My wife and I seldom shop at the Walmart in our town. (Occasionally one of our grandchildren will put something from there on a gift wish list.) However, when we’re at our family’s lake cottage, we shop regularly at Walmart—it’s one of the only options in that area. Every time we walk into the place, one of us utters some misgivings about the experience.
We need states to take in enough revenue to provide the services people rely on. We need this more than we need tax-free online shopping.