No "sanction of the victim" from

Forced to choose between having a fulfillment center in Texas and enjoying its tax-free status as an internet retailer, Amazon choose to close its fulfillment center. This sounds like a win for Amazon customers, a lose for Texas taxpayers, and probably a draw for Amazon itself.

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness, a lobbying group for small businesses working to eliminate Internet sales tax loopholes, criticized Amazon’s decision to close the Irving center.
“Texas retailers collect and remit sales taxes every day â?? whether the sale happens in a store or online,” said Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the group. “ was asked to play by the same rules, and has responded by eliminating hundreds of Texas jobs. Amazon could have chosen to collect the sales tax as Texas retailers do, but instead they opted to protect their special sales tax loophole to the detriment of hardworking families.”

The Stuxnet story: Better than fiction

If you haven’t already seen it, don’t miss the story “Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Ambitions.”
I found myself marveling several times at the brilliance and ingenuity of Stuxnet. The way it unfolded on the world stage seems like the sort of “series of mysterious events” that could have been in Atlas Shrugged, were it written today rather than in the 1950s.

Great story: Jaroslav Romanchuk teaching free market principles to Burmese dissidents

Kelley Currie at The Weekly Standard blog has this beautiful anecdote about our beloved Jaroslav:

I met Romanchuk about a decade ago in Thailand, of all places. He was sent to me by colleagues at the International Republican Institute, where I was working at the time, to help with a problem I was having with my Burmese dissidents. They were good guysâ??committed to democracy and willing to risk their lives for it. They were also big admirers of Communist economic theories, and did not seem to understand the infrangible link between the economics of Marxism and its political tyranny. My attempts to get them to read the Economist and Adam Smith were going nowhere, so I got the idea that it might help them to hear from someone who had actually lived under a Communist system and had run away from it screaming.
Enter Romanchuk. He was as close to a pure Ayn Rand-spouting Objectivist as I have ever met, not to mention an incredibly brilliant economist who gave my well-intentioned Burmese dissidents brain cramps when he clearly explained how oppressive an economy based on redistribution and “social justice” actually was in real life. You could have heard a pin drop when he told them about the unsuccessful attempts on his life as a result of his work with an opposition political party under Lukashenko’s dictatorship. He also exhibited an unbelievably foul sense of humor and could, naturally, drink us all under the table, which he proceeded to do every night. Because he had street credibility, the Burmese dissidents could relate to him immediately. They never stopped asking for me to bring him back for a second round, but unfortunately I was unable to do so.

See her full blog post for more context for this anecdote.

Megan McArdle's critique of WikiLeaks

Since publishing our article yesterday in defense of WikiLeaks, I’ve been on the lookout for good articles presenting the case against WikiLeaks. Megan McArdle provides a pretty good one.
UPDATE – (Dec 12) For two more interesting perspectives on WikiLeaks, see Ron Paul’s defense of WikiLeaks and Clay Shirky’s insightful review of the long-term implications of WikiLeaks. The latter may be the most even-handed commentary I’ve seen.
Got additional insights on the subject? Share them in the comments below.

Avatar: The Atlas Shrugged of the Left

A new article by Nick Rizzuto at begins:

For 52 years now, Ayn Randâ??s Atlas Shrugged has stood alone as the shining example of political allegory. Rand’s novel has long been considered to be essential reading for American individualists and advocates of free markets. The American left on the other hand has not had a work of fiction that definitively embodies their worldview. Avatar might just fill that void. While the two stories are powerful, their messages are diametrically opposed.

See the full article for much more.

The Whole Foods alternative to ObamaCare

Celebrity Ayn Rand fan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has a great article in today’s Wall Street Journal with his recommendations for free market based health care reform (though I take exception to his dietary advice). It’s one of the best articles I’ve seen, in terms of making positive recommendations about how to actually improve the quality of health care in the United States.