Everyone knows that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a genius. After all, he made himself one of the richest people in the world by avoiding the requirement that retailers collect state sales taxes. Yes, Amazon now collects these taxes, but the savings on tax collections in the years it didn't collect taxes almost certainly exceed Amazon's cumulative profits since it's been in business.

While Amazon's tax avoidance may have been legal, it was 100 percent brain-dead as public policy. In effect, state and local governments were directly subsidizing an Internet giant at the expense of their homegrown mom and pop retail stores. It is very difficult to imagine a world in which this policy makes sense.

Anyhow, the NYT apparently feels some need to carry water for Amazon, implying there is some ambiguity about state efforts to require Amazon to collect taxes for sales of its affiliates. It tells us that states are "thirsty" for unpaid sales taxes, as opposed to trying to correct an abuse of the law that benefits a huge company and one of the richest people in the world at the expense of their own retailers.

It is also very generous in presenting Amazon's case, explaining that the company is concerned that it could be held liable for taxes that its affiliates fail to properly assess. This is called "too damn bad." Amazon is making money off its affiliates sales. This means that it carries certain responsibilities for those sales, including that taxes are properly collected. In a market economy, if a company like Amazon can't conduct its business competently, then it should go under and be replaced by businesses run by people who know what they are doing.