Tuesday, April 30, 2013

House is to Savings...

Buying a house is like keeping cash in a savings account.

Renting is like paying to keep it in a safety deposit box.

...Buying gold is like living in a van down by the river.  (You may make out quite well, but you're still crazy.)

Adding to MMM

A couple things to add to the MMM post:

1) Given complete ability to chose your own spending level, how much you spend per year is inversely proportional to how much you value money.  There are some one-off things that MMM comments on (if you really like bicycling, and that saves you money on gas then that is not a value of money trade off), but someone who spends ~$25k/year for their family actually places a pretty large value on money.  He would rather put forth effort to cook, clean, repair things than pay others to do the same, so he values money more than his time and effort to do those things...Yes, he may also enjoy those things, and that does get back to the not-exactly aspect, but essentially, and somewhat counter-intuitively, money has higher value to savers than to spenders. 

(Note: we may not value other persons' lives the same, but everyone pretty much places the exact same value on their own life, so if you chose to spend $80k/year on your living, then it isn't because you value your life more, but because you value money less...well, and you have it, this analogy requires a person be able to set their spending more or less without constraint.)

2) Living debt free is all and good, but it shouldn't be an end to itself.  At one level MMM clearly understands this (he had a mortgage when he bought his first house), but it isn't clear from the conversation that he really buys it.  Sometimes you are better off taking on debt to buy a large thing now rather than wait until you can pay cash.  Houses are an obvious thing here, and for most people cars are as well.  It does go beyond that, however...

If you have money tied up in investments paying 7%, and you want to buy something that would require dipping into those investments, but you can get a loan that charges 5%, then you will be better off, in the end, getting the loan, and keeping your investments in tact.  There are other reasons that go beyond total dollars.  If you want to renovate your house, you could save up and pay cash, but that may take years, and how much would you value the years of enjoyment of the renovated house vs. the interest you would pay to get a loan to cover it?  What if an emergency taps you out for the month, but something you need/want badly is on sale/about to be gone?  It could well be worthwhile to you to buy it on credit and pay it off in a month or two (or, really, even a year).

Debt--like alcohol, cheese, and bacon--is a really good thing that only becomes bad when it is indulged in too much.

Retiring at 30

After doing an interview with the Washington Post, Mr. Money Mustache has gotten quite popular.  Retired at 30 due to lots of heavy saving, and very low debt (no student loans, buying used, cheap cars, buying fixer-upper houses and doing the work themselves...he does seem to be advantaged by being very smart and capable).  This is certainly possible--though it would be very hard with a median family income--but it is only possible for a very small subset.  The thing is, if everyone tried to do this, the economy would crash and nobody would be able to get the jobs necessary to get started.

Rent seeking (which can be owning rental properties, or living off investment returns) is a strategy that works very well so long as only a very small subset of the population attempts it.  If everyone buys a house, then you won't be able to rent out properties to anyone.  Similarly, if everyone tried to by used beater cars, then no new ones would be produced (and those companies would go under, and lots of jobs lost and...).  This works at just about every level.  If you want to invest in anything and get any return, then whatever you are investing in needs customers.

Our economy needs for lots of people to dine out more often than MMM, and to buy new things (cars, bikes, furniture) and to pay for other people to do work on their houses, and to rent, and on and on.  There is certainly some subset of jobs/careers/companies that would continue to exist in a high saving world (e.g. we would still need food, shelter, education and transportation) but even that still wouldn't be a world where people could, in large numbers, live off their savings.  The more people try not to work, the more things produced by work would need to cost.  Someone needs to produce the food.  The other alternative would be for all people to become much more autonomous, but that isn't retirement, that is just doing lots of jobs and not sharing/trading the fruits of your labor.

So good for them, and good luck to people who try and do something similar, but most will fail, and that is good.  It is good for the whole economy but it is particularly good for MMM.

Also: please note that in most ways that matter, MMM is a 1%er.  His income is not necessarily that high (though higher than the $25k/year they spend), but he has far more wealth than most people.  For the 9 years of work that he and his wife put in they likely combined to have quite a high income (to 10% at least).

Monday, April 29, 2013

That's Because the Political Right is For Billionaires

Digby's comments on the Bloomberg story about billionaires working to stave off climate change includes the following:
...The right wing billionaires play the full political spectrum: they fund causes they believe it, they fund the Republican Party and they fund conservative and libertarian institutions to push their ideology, which they fully and completely embrace. The centrist and liberal millionaires and billionaires not so much. They narrowly choose their issue, whether it's education or something else and refuse to fund ongoing ideologically based institutions. At this point, that's tantamount to working for the other side.
The problem is that most billionaires are primarily concerned with making (and keeping) lots of money.  That's actually true of most millionaires as well.  People that are not super focused on making lots of money don't generally make lots of money.  

One of our political parties is primarily concerned with making sure millionaires and billionaires get to keep as much money as possible.  The other is (nominally) concerned with universal equality (of opportunity).  So if you are a right-wing billionaire, then you are pretty much 100% behind the GOP: both you pet issues and your personal ones are served by them.  If you are a left-wing billionaire, on the other hand, it is most likely only your pet issues are (nominally) served by Democrats. 

Things changed through the 90's and 00's as Democrats changed to be more friendly to Wall Street (to the expense of the country), but still, even our right-of-center Democratic president occasionally talks about the rich/banker types as being a part of the problem, and having responsibility to pay their fair share (even though he really doesn't do anything about that). 

Housing as Investment Myth

I'm still a bit pissed about MattY's housing post from a few days back, mostly because of this weird recent notion that housing is a crappy investment (usually accompanied with comparisons to stocks).  It makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

Let's get around the first issue about housing as an investment: what could that even mean?  There are three ways to see housing as an investment.  The first is as a rental property.  The second is as a flip (buy, maybe renovate and sell).  The third, and most common is a combination of inflation hedge and forced saving mechanism.  The "value" of a house is relevant to the first one only for the initial purchase.  Once the house is owned and being rented, fluctuations in housing price are irrelevant. Similarly, once you've bought a house you plan on living in for many years, you shouldn't really care if it's theoretical value moves around any.  In both of these two cases your investment relates to rent vs. purchase cost.  If you are renting to someone else that is easy: ($ in rent - costs)/purchase price is the approximate return.  Yes, at some point you may want to sell the house, but mostly you are looking at a simple calculation for investment return that has nothing to do with changes in valuation.

If you are living there, then you are actually looking at the same math.  Note: having a mortgage is largely irrelevant in either case (it goes to costs but reduces your purchase price so you tend to end in the same place).

About the only person for whom value matters (after purchase) is the flipper, and in that case the investment issue is far more complex, and, frankly, more random.  This is the high risk/high reward category of housing investment.

If you insist on making a direct comparison, then housing as investments should be compared to [inflation protected] bonds rather than stocks: mostly holds its value and provides a steady stream of "income" (real income in the rental case, forced savings in the owner occupied). In this comparison housing is probably the better investment.

Really, though, for the owner-occupied housing as investment, the value is much greater.  This is because, again, you have to live somewhere, and there is a cost for that.  Yes, you can live in some dirt cheap flat and save lots of money over buying a (most) house(s), but most people--and pretty much anyone who is concerned with investing--don't do this.  For most people the choice is between buying a house and renting a house/apartment with similar amenities.  In all but a few select locations in this country there isn't a huge gap in the monthly cost for the two.  Housing is more upfront, but grants both forced savings and inflation protection.  Renting is low to zero cost upfront, but provides $0 in terms of investment return.  The only reason to rent instead of buy is if the cost difference is enough to offset the rather large lifetime return of owning a house.  In San Francisco and NYC that may well be true long term.  For short terms (up to a max of maybe 7 years) that may also be true.  For most other people and places...not even close.  Some places it is cheaper to buy a house live for a year and sell that it would be to rent something comparable. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

$10 an Hour is $20k per Year

...And that is if you can manage full time.  That may be a lot of money to a high school student with approaching $0 in living expenses, but for most people it is hardly anything.  Yes, such a person will (almost certainly) qualify for EITC which puts real money back in their pocket, but SS/Medicare and most state income taxes don't give a damn.  Just the SS/Medicare portion will cost said individual $1500.

No, our politicians, and their money masters have no concept of what people in these circumstances have to deal with: "work harder!", "go back to school!", and any other patronizing response are not helpful, and often not possible.  Also, too: they don't care.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Of Course Krugman is Right

It's been obvious to anyone with half a brain for years.  Unfortunately the horrible people who rule us are too stubborn to admit they have been wrong, in large part because they would have to own up to the consequences of their mistakes--which have been devastating.  It's been clear for some time that having knowledge, facts, history, and objective correctness on your side has no value in the debates taking place (in Washington or the Euro).  Our supposedly smart, supposedly Democratic president has endorsed cutting Social Security, for gawd sakes!

Outsourcing MattY Anger

Yesterday, I did see Matt Yglesias's post on worker safety regulations with [no] respect to the Bangladesh building collapse, but there was so much wrong and I didn't really have time to counter it and I didn't want to point it out without some scathing criticism.  Fortunately David Atkins did the heavy lifting so I can just redirect. 

The Problems of the Elite

The sequester does lots of horrible things that we don't hear much about, but it also causes flight delays due to the FAA cutting of air traffic controller hours by 10%.  Since newspaper people and the elite people they talk to all fly, this is what we seem to hear about.  Really, though, flight delays are not the major problem with the sequester.  The major problem is the damage it does to programs serving the poor.

I am not so sure that this is really Obama's plan (he seems perfectly happy to kick the poors in plenty of other ways), but I'm really glad to see this put into proper perspective by a large media outlet...though I don't really like the headline.

Oh, and yes, the commenters are horrible, horrible people.

LGBTQ Moving Up, Women Still Second Class

More and more, gay marriage is being seen as perfectly acceptable, and it is legal in more and more places.  That's great, and about time (things are actually moving faster than attitudes toward interracial marriage which didn't gain majority approval until the mid 90's). Yet it's still ok to treat women as second class in far too many ways and places.

Articles like the wank-tacular Dylan Byers piece effectively shortened at Lawers Guns and Money are still being published, and reading the comments (actual piece and a few other sties that commented on it) it is clear that many people think the treatment is exactly the same as men get because, I presume, they had a boss sometime that was a man that they said mean things about.

You see similar things with respect to equal pay.  Equal pay day was a couple weeks back.  Go to any (popular) blog or news site that has an article talking about gender equity largely on the basis of the pay gap, and read the comments.  It so frequently turns into a discussion about whether the pay gap is "really" that big, and what other things are going on, and "women are really advantaged because...[preferential hiring or something]", and "men are the only ones you can reject/fire/not promote without consequences", and lots of other, often spite filled commentary.

I myself complain just about every time the pay gap is released/pointed to.  I do this because 1. I find the statistics problematic and 2. use of it tends to shut down or sidetrack conversation. Really, though, I probably shouldn't harp on people who get into this, not the least because I actually am aware that a serious problem exists and I understand why the pay gap number is useful in many/most cases.

For all the complaining that [right-wing] white men do about how they are the only people that are discriminated against anymore, in the real world about the only -ism that you can use in public without being shunned/shamed is sexism.  It happens in newspapers, on tv, in workplaces, in academic environments...everywhere.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Oh Why

I'd say he's baiting me if I had any thought that he (or really anyone) was reading this thing.  Smart conservative journalism could well be something worth having...why the hell anyone would think that that is something that could come from anything the Koch brothers touch is beyond me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I still don't know why hedge funds are invested in by anyone.

Investing, whether for a huge pension fund or for an individual is really not hard: stock index fund (or 2 if some international is desired) for a fraction dependent on risk/reward--for pension funds, say 60%, for individuals start at 80-90% when younger and taper down to maybe 40-50% at retirement--and bond index fund for the rest.  Pension funds may also want to consider adding a broad REIT (all US, again, maybe a Global too), individuals may buy a house (though adding some REIT could be fine as well).

And that covers the vast majority of investors: people and companies saving for retirement [funds].  Anyone who wants to get more in depth, to try and beat the market, can, but even for them, hedge funds are a bad bet.  Those people should be doing their own research and picking individual investments.  Going to hedge funds to try and beat the market is a sucker's bet.

Being Contrarian

I guess it's pick on MattY week.  It looks like he just wants to say things that people don't like then argue why they are good or inevitable or something.  Yesterday it was a really, really bad argument that hedge funds buying single family homes to rent out to the poor folks that can't get mortgages was somehow a good thing because teh market. Today it's saying that it makes perfect sense to discriminate against long term unemployed because heuristics

But it doesn't.  If you actually use time unemployed as a screening mechanism then you are either pathetically lazy, or monumentally stupid.  Lots of people lose jobs for lots of different reasons, but if you want to screen short term vs. long term unemployed, then at present it is the long term that are less likely to have been laid off/fired due to their own faults (someone who got laid off when the economy was tanking, vs. rather than during the tepid recovery, is more likely to have been a victim of circumstanse).  Further, the long term unemployed are more likely to be eager to work hard for a new employer.

There is almost certainly a somewhat functional screening element preferring employed people over unemployed (for any duration), but that is not what Matt was saying.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Really Stepping In It

On a pure theory of economics basis, I suppose there is some merit to this Matt Yglesias post.  But it's more than a little bit of a mess, conflating several disparate things into some argument that isn't there.

On the one hand we have investors buying distressed properties to rent them out to occupants who cannot buy them because, a. their credit scores are too low to qualify for loans that are granted by people in the investor class and b. they are being outbid by those same investors who come with cash.  The resulting rents are necessarily higher than would be the mortgage payment (it would be a really crappy investment otherwise), meaning the poor sub-prime market segment is in fact losing out to the monied class. 

The other thing he is arguing is kind of a non-sequitor: housing isn't a great investment so most people would be better off renting and investing in index funds.  But since, as he states early on: you have to live somewhere, you have to pay for renting, so you can't compare housing as investment to total stock market index fund as investment.  You have to compare housing as investment plus other available investments to: renting as money hole but some other investments.  If the case is that renting is more expensive than buying would be: you get the worst of both worlds: money hole, plus less $ left over to invest.  This isn't hard, and yet it is routinely fucked up by people advocating for more renting.

There are good reasons to rent, and good reasons to buy, but this investor push to buy distressed housing and rent it out is nearly prof in itself that renting (on average, particularly for long terms) is a sucker's bet: your rent is someone else's profit, so you must be able to do better by buying...even factoring interest on the mortgage.

As an aside, one of the problems with this, that really only gets voiced by Atrios is that there is a lot of reason to be skeptical of this type of investing with respect to treatment of tenants.  Renting from an organized apartment complex and renting from some guy who owns a couple rental houses nearby are both different animals, and it's not a bad bet to say that renting a house from one of these hedge funds will mean you have a hell of a time getting a leaky faucet fixed.


NPR was saying that Netflix accounts for (iirc) over 30% of internet usage evenings in the US.  That is a huge number.  Then there was discussion about exclusive titles in the competition between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.  In the end I suspect one will survive (either by buying the others or driving them into bankruptcy).  Netflix has the early lead, but Amazon probably has the edge in the long run due to their much deeper pockets (due, in large part to shareholders that don't seem to care about profitability).

There is a limited amount of time and a huge amount of programming available on any one of them, so I see no need to pay for more than one.  It probably doesn't matter much to consumers who wins: we get excellent value while the competition is on, and that will likely go away somewhat once the winner is decided.  Still, Amazon does seem to be taking over the world, and I would like to think that there is room for other people selling things on/over the internet...but they really do have the best overall deal, provided you order other things from Amazon.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So My Assumptions Were Off

Having not read as far in as I've watched the Song of Fire and Ice, I had assumed that house Lannister's wealth was based on lots of land and farming.  I guess it is just based on digging yellow metal out of the ground.  As such, I've got to agree with MattY on this: not the richest family.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


12 Rules for Goldbugs.

Gold is probably not the stupidest thing to invest in.  Certainly if you are lucky you can make lots of money, but if you are lucky you can make lots of money gambling as well so...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Horrible Democratic President

I wish Howard Dean had won in 2004.  Obama has had another campaign in which he sounded like maybe he would actually govern as a Democrat this time, and has followed that up by being the ONLY person to actually propose cutting social security.  "Evil scumbag" comes close, but I'm not sure it really covers the very conservative Republican friendly Obama budget proposal. 

I don't agree with Dean on everything, but if he leaves, I'd be likely to follow.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Educate

I'm very torn about things like this new testing program in NYCAtrios is certainly correct that wealthier students in general will do better due to parental/money involvement.  This means they get better schools/teachers and will be better educated/prepared for college, meaning they will get into better colleges...

The other side of this is harder to state: no matter the reason that they are more advanced, it is not a good idea to hold back some children to bring others to their level.  I think where this goes astray is that a lot of districts are kind of backwards.  Advanced children (whether because of their own ability or because mommy and daddy have lots of money) don't need the best teachers and schools.  They will learn just fine with below average teachers.  The downside, of course, is that if the best teachers are not teaching "their" children "they" will pull their kids out of the schools: either going to the suburbs or moving them to private schools.  Advanced children without wealth will be less likely to have as much of a benefit in this case.

This is a nearly impossible problem to get around without lots of money and a less parochial system.  Basically, if we could setup a system that the worst schools in the country had the best paid teachers (I'm talking six figure starting salaries) and the best performing had the lowest (say $30k starting) then we could guarantee that the least advantaged students would get the best teachers.  It would really require pretty heavy federal intervention in public schools, however, to prevent wealthy suburbs from creating price competitive schools.  (Note: there will be private schools in either case, but even private schools would have a hard time matching a minimum teacher salary of $120k plus benefits.)

I'm thinking something like having all teaching jobs on a scale with a few variables: education level (+/- 0.5), experience (+/- 0.5), school rating (+2 to -1).  Most schools would exist on a +/- 1 continuum with a few very challenging schools over +1 (so median school would be 0).  A value of 0 would correspond to a median teacher salary of, say $47k.  +1 would be double that, +2 triple, +3 would be 4x, -1 and below would be half.  That way no matter how much education and experience a teacher has, she/he could never do better than the median at the easiest schools.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Bit O' Fun

Not really sure it's as big a gotcha as some of the people commenting on it imply, but it's still fun to watch:

Anyone who thinks the government funding of science is a bad idea is a total fucking idiot.  The economic argument is actually more complex than "Well, if it is a good investment then the private sector would do it."  Much like infrastructure, lots of really good investments for the economy as a whole are actually pretty crappy investments for individual companies.  In general improving human welfare provides a lot of economic benefits, but not necessarily of a direct nature.  Think about science involved in cleaning up pollution (including CO2)...

Reducing the pollution levels has major health benefits, but the people doing the cleanup don't really reap those rewards.  The benefit is that more people live longer/better and can do more/better work.  This means that people contribute more to the economy, and since taxes cover the whole of the economy the government benefits.  Because of the broad nature of the benefit, only the government can justify the cost, because only the government has the size and reach to claim the return on investment.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

I'm Not Actually Against It

When I was talking about the boondoggle of private investment in public infrastructure I wasn't really clear that I was particularly against the banks and these other stupid schemes to skim more government money off to a handful of well connected individuals and businesses.

Private enterprise does, often and without problem, invest in public goods, including infrastructure.  The mechanism for this has been and should be bonds.  Those bonds can be targeted to a specific thing, and some dedicated revenue stream (taxes, tolls, ...) can be set up to be used only for payment on those bonds, but that is how "investment in infrastructure" has and should work.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Our most-liberal-president-evah is the first politician to officially endorse cutting social security.  Republicans are going to hang this on every Democrat in 2014, and the Democrats' only chance at surviving this colossal mistake is to separate themselves from this plan and idea.  Let's just hope that the Republicans are too stupid to take the deal, and that Democrats are not so stupid that they go along with it.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

I Like My Leatherman

Digby quoted some interesting commentary (yesterday).  I could be reading her comments about it incorrectly, but it seems she is flabbergasted and I'm not sure I follow.  That a bunch of knife manufacturers are pushing to drop the rather idiotic ban on [small] knives isn't even a little surprising, nor is it that the bizarre and insane leader of the NRA would comment on it as he did. 

The fact is that the amount of stupid that is part and parcel to getting on an airplane nowadays is ridiculous.  Pretty much none of it really makes us safer.  Some of it makes some people feel better, but mostly it just causes lines and pisses people off.  The most stupid is the liquids ban, with the rapiscans a close second.

The knife ban is an odd one in that it really doesn't make us safer (crochet needles are potentially deadly, and it isn't as though there aren't stores through security that sell things that could easily be made into stabbing weapons) but at the very least it is a ban on something that is an obvious weapon. Still, I don't see it as a good idea, and I think the tradeoffs are not worth it.

I used to carry a pocket knife with me pretty much everywhere--they can come in quite handy--but now I don't because I'm afraid I will forget about it when I am rushing to a flight and end up losing it.  So this rule has affected not just my airport trips, but my daily life...and there have been plenty of times that I've wished I had my leatherman on hand but didn't.  In the end a law that doesn't make us safer is inconveniencing many, and at least for myself that inconvenience extends to the non-flying times in my life.

I'd rather see the liquids ban eliminated than the knife one, but any peeling back of stupid I see as a good thing. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Private Public Infrastructrure Boondoggle

I am also mystified by these "banks" but I'm even more perplexed by the entire notion of private investment in infrastructure. 

When the government builds infrastructure that is an investment because that infrastructure will contribute to higher GDP (increased/improved traffic or information tech leads to increased commerce and higher sales/incomes/business revenues) which results in greater tax revenues.  Private industry doesn't tax, however, so for them to build infrastructure as an investment they need to find some other way to extract money.  And because most private industry operates on much shorter time scales than the government, they need to do that fast, which generally means much larger rents than the market would support.

Imagine a road if it is funded by tax revenue then it is "free" to drive on, which means any business that wants to start up there has an advantage in that its employees and customers don't need to pay to get to them.  That is good, and it means that business is more likely to start there.  It may be 5 years before that business turns a profit and pays taxes (though it will likely pay employees which means some payroll/income taxes, but those may just be displaced from elsewhere).

Now imagine that same road funded by a company that wants to profit.  Either they are going to make it a toll road or there will be lots of parking fees, or they will charge any business/resident some fee for access points.  Any of those things will make starting a business (or building houses, or anything) on that road less desirable than the above, and so the build up would be even slower.  Slower buildup means that the company will need to charge more to see any return on its investment and we have a downward spiral.

This is a bad idea in every way imaginable, and yet it is one that is increasingly common as stupid, short sighted, or just rotten politicians try and make a quick buck at the expense of future revenues. 

That's Not Reflective of Bad Management

I guess it's read Matt Yglesias evening.  This post of his is mostly throw-away, but there is something very perplexing in it.  He says:
But laws like this that give local capital an advantage versus remote capital are probably bad for wage earners. What you're essentially doing is creating a protected class of capitalists who are immunized against being put out of business by a more effective owner and manager. That has negative consequences for customers but also for workers—you're essentially stuck working for a less-competent boss in a lower-productivity role than you would be in a more competitive market.
The problem is that that doesn't follow.  It's not every one, but one of the defining aspects of chain establishments is that they treat workers like crap.  Pay minimum wage, grant few benefits, cut back hours...

And that makes good sense.  "Good" managment/ownership is most often perceived as minimizing costs, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to spend as little as possible on workers.  Chain restaurants, whether of a fast food variety or not, get over untrained, low motivation workers by making it so that anyone can do the job.  Some "less-competent" boss may have to hire someone who knows what they are doing to get the same results, and that person will likely be paid more because they have some necessary skill (even if it is just operating a meat slicer, or working a grill).

Marriage makes you less poor?

I understand the numbers and they are real, but something that should be pointed out in MattY's example is that his theoretical couple would likely be better off cohabiting while unmarried. Two impoverished cohabiting "single" parents would likely qualify for more benefits and breaks than one not-impoverished married couple with two children. 

It's not universal, but the way that we treat income with respect to marriage means that it is often better financially for dual income households to not marry than it is to marry (there are other benefits to marriage, mind you).  I think the simplest solution is to drop the entire section of the tax code.  Everyone who files is the same (so no single/married/married filing jointly/head of household crap).  Pick numbers in the middle and leave it at that.

Now that does seem to penalize single income families, but in reality it doesn't: you can have the traditionally working spouse pay the not-traditionally-working spouse half the income, and so split the pie lowering taxes all around...yes, I know that can be complicated, but since my fantasy tax filing would also drop lots of other crap, this would actually be pretty easy.