Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Irrational Obama Exuberance"

Three reasons that justify the crazy Obama paraphenalia-ed people that seem to follow me everywhere...
  1. The return of meritocracy and the American Dream - this does get me jazzed - son of an African immigrant, raised by grandparents in a middle class family, yadda, yadda.
  2. Transcending racial boundaries
  3. Breath of fresh air...

But I draw the line when people start blindly supporting all of the pied piper's policies. Yes, there are reasons for optimism, but it is irrational to have a blanket support of the man. I am a little jazzed about everyone's bubbles being inevitably burst.

Update: another example of irrational exuberance in favor of Obama

Teddy Rex

My token tourist activity during my trip to NYC this week was a visit to Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace. I read Theodore Rex a few years ago and admittedly fell in love with the dynamic character that was Teddy Roosevelt (despite qualms about his policies). That book is the second in a three part series by Edmund Morris - Rex only covers his presidency. 28 E. 20th Street in New York was his birthplace and monument to the first 14 years of his life. What a fascinating life!

Fun factoids about Teddy I picked up yesterday:
  • Second of five children
  • Severely asthmatic youth which he combatted with exercise and trips to the countryside
  • Mother was a hardcore Southern belle who had Teddy and his siblings packing and sending care packages to the South during the Civil War
  • Totally homeschooled, Teddy excelled at modern languages and natural sciences, but was very poor at Greek, Latin, and math
  • Started taxidermy at age 12
  • Went on a year long African Safari immediately after exiting the presidency

The museum also had a couple galleries dedicated to the rest of Teddy's life. You have to respect the man for being such a voracious reader, prolific writer, disciplined athlete, and dedicated student his entire life. He was truly a Renassiance man. I started to express my admiration and my museum companian grumbled in disgust that he was a terrible president that paved the way for many future government interventionist policies. True. My friend said his personal accomplishments make no difference.

I am a sucker for the libertarian view that unexperienced politicians make the best politicians. If they don't know what the heck they are doing, they are less likely to accomplish much of anything. But the last time I employed this argument with a professor of mine (I think we were arguing over the viability of Palin), he shook his head. "Whitney, wouldn't you rather the person derermining this country's policies be better educated than you?" Hmmm, instinctually yes, but that's such an elitist view! The professor retorted, "What's wrong with elitism?" Ah, an honest Democrat! If I trusted our political system to be one based on merit instead of corruption, then I would be fine with the elitism, but an elitism based more on cronyism turns my stomach (this goes for either party). Even if I disagree with Teddy Roosevelt's policies - at least he had a consistent rationale, historical justifications, and experience to back them up. That's something I have mad respect for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A pessimistic thought from a usually optimistic person...

Could capitalism be doomed due to our inpatience with market failures?

Can we not accept failure?

Maybe some action was warranted for the sake of the credit market, but the bailouts of individual banks and companies is totally bogus. Some businesses fail. When the new Mexican resteraunt in your neighborhood goes out of business after a few months, we don't exactly pass the hat to take care of the unemployeed cooks, busboys, and waiters. The local government doesn't seek to subsidize them. But Whitney, you say, we're talking established firms with hundreds if not thousands of employees. Fine, suppose the Mexican resteraunt wasn't just a resteraunt but a chain of resteraunts in your hometown. They employ and feed a decent proportion of your town's population, but management has made some poor decisions and they are about to go under. We still don't pass the hat or lobby our localities to subsidize a failing business. And it's not the end of the world.

So why are we so hellbent on avoiding a recession? Whoops, we're already there. Why are we so hellbent on getting out of this recession so damn fast? It's called a business cycle for a reason.

Some meditative food for thought...
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun. A
time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that
which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal ...a time to weep and a time
to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance ...a time to embrace and a time to
refrain from embracing;a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a
time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak;a time to love and a time
to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Tis the season

Oh the brutal materialism of an American Christmas. Megan McArdle overheard Suze Orman responding to a question as to how to pay for toys at Christmas which prompted her to write the following:
I know that my parents expended a lot of precious money and time on my Christmas gifts. But with a few exceptions (a certain Raggedy Ann and Andy Pen and Pencil Set comes to mind, along with my very own Beach Boys "Endless Summer" casette"), what I remember about Christmases is not what I was given, but the non-material traditions: the food, the family, the snow angels and crackling fires. This is true of basically everyone I know. So why do we continue to think that the gifts are the most important part?
My parents also tended to go overboard. They continued to "sell the farm" each December even after my brother and I discovered Santa was a sham. Of course I'm not going to tell them to stop, but at an early age I did find it excessive. Now that my parents have competing Christmases I see the potential for an all out arms race of gifts. Hoping to cut this off at the pass, I've asked them each to get me one truly thoughtful gift. Honestly, that's all I want for Christmas from anyone I love - if they feel compelled to get me anything.

My favorite Christmas memories:
  • Decorating the tree with ornaments made throughout my childhood and collected on family vacations.
  • The sheer anticipation - waiting at the top of the stairs with my brother to go down and see what Santa brought.
  • The huge breakfast my dad made which we always ate while watching the Christmas Day parade.
  • Going over to Grandma and Grandpa's house later that day to celebrate all over again. The special prayer that my Grandpa always says before we eat. Each year, he surprises me with the most insightful blessings and always ends, "Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us in thy service - in Jesus's name Amen."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pirate links

I had the pleasure of being driven home by a Somali taxi driver last night. He blames the piracy on the Italian half of Somalia - apparently he comes from the more civilized north which was colonized by the British. We laughed at how absurd it was to steal $100 Million worth of oil!? The taxi driver pointed out that it was crude oil so they couldn't even bring it back to Somalia for consumption!

Random pirate links:

How to protect your booty from pirates

Slate's Q and A on pirates

Why the Iranian Navy should help

An argument for a voluntary coalition to police the seas

Hat tip: Allison for the first two links

EHarmony rejected me too - should I sue?

Ok, so EHarmony didn't reject me technically, but I did fill out their profile once (back when I tried and I had ZERO matches. This is really sad in a city that is ranked fifth in the nation for online dating. Just because I felt slighted by EHarmony doesn't mean I'm going to sue though!

Wall Street Journal article here. More on the story from a conservative perspective at Dr Melissa's blog.

I was entertained by's ad campaign against EHarmony - "Rejected by EHarmony." It was an effective campaign that helped differentiate their product from their competitor. It was a great way of the market regulating itself through competition.

If EHarmony wants to limit their target market - that's their prerogative! They are limiting their own profit potential by doing so - who does that hurt? Only them! There are plenty of online dating sites open to gay couples. Straight people who are upset by EHarmony's discrimination can choose another dating site as well. What is the legal justification for interferring in a business model like this?! Should men sue Playtex because only women can use feminine products? Dr. Melissa uses the analogy that it's like suing a vegetarian restaruant for not serving steak. So true! Whether or not you agree with gay marriage and gay lifestyles, this is a scary government intervention.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Benjamin Franklin was right about candles, in other words, but he did not consider air-conditioners"

So apparently I was premature in giving props to W. for the shortening of daylight savings. This interesting study conducted by the guys who wrote this NYTimes op-ed tested the efficiency of daylight savings. The thought process was that we'll save more energy if we use sunlight as opposed to electrically powered lighting. But apparently the energy savings did not play out in Indiana. Indiana's recent adoption of daylight savings in 2007 provided the authors with a natural experiment to test the purported "savings" element of "daylight savings."
While daylight time reduces demand for household lighting, it increases demand for heating in the early spring and late fall (in the mornings) and, even more important, for cooling on summer evenings.
So much for my shout out to W.

Apparently my blog says I'm a "Doer"

Typealyze your favorite blogs!

Hat tip: Alexis via Annie

Policing the seas

Mark my words: It will come to pass that the world will ask the United States Navy to more closely patrol the regions where these pirates are operating.
Why is this our responsibility? Because we have the largest Navy? Oh hellz no. All of these oil companies and shipping companies just need to get smart and hire some private security guards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tainted views of Africa

"if, as a westerner, you are going to visit Africa, the earlier in your life you
do it, the better. By the time you are in your twenties, your head is so stuffed
with preconceived opinions, mostly of the ethic ally self-flagellating variety,
you can barely see, let alone interpret, what is going on outside you."

Interesting notion about visiting Africa - more here.

When I went to South Africa this summer through my graduate school, we discussed the ethics of "disaster tourism." We were riding on the bus back to Pretoria after a daytrip to Soweto - the famous shanty town outside of Joburg. Someone living in a tin shack had organized a tour for us. Apparently, there is an informal community organization in Soweto that accommodates groups of tourists like ourselves to gawk at them in their squalid poverty. They assurred us that they wanted us to be there and they wanted us to ask questions, but you can't help but feel awkward doing so. I wish I had taken more pictures, but at the time I felt guilty. In economic terms, I was consuming their poverty. In a wierd way, being entertained/educated by it. But good comes of it. There was a brand new preschool that had apparently been built with funds from a church group who had visited from Atlanta, Georgia. The problem is that as Africans become less poor, we will be less interested in them. So in order to maintain the interest of disaster tourists, they have to stay poor. However, I don't see this as a problem. Once they are at the point that they are less interesting to us, they should have running water, solid shelters, and enough resources to hopefully lift themselves up out of poverty.

Hat tip: Tyler Cowen

Winning...the American Way

We tell our children "Winning isn't everything" yet we coddle them to death. The coddling (I think) increasing leads to a sense of entitlement. We are entitled to not be disappointed or we are entitled to get what we want or we are entitled to have the government take care of us. This theme runs through a lot of the popular headlines these days. Hillary Clinton lost because of a glass ceiling. Sarah Palin was ridiculed because she's a woman. If Obama hadn't won, there would be riots in the ghettos. I <3 Thomas Sowell. for explaining why this doesn't make sense:
Apparently, if you don't win, somebody has put up a barrier or a ceiling.
He continues:

Almost by definition, everybody thinks their cause is just. Does that mean that nobody has to obey the rules? That is called anarchy.

Nobody is in favor of anarchy. But some people want everybody else to obey the rules, while they don't have to.

Ahhh, American exceptionalism even applies on the micro level.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pirates hit the motherload!

$100 Million worth of oil!

Two men walk into a bar...

Two men walk into a bar and sit down at tables ten feet apart from one another. Both are white, tall, thin, brown haired professional men - one slightly better looking than the other. Five minutes later a cute twenty something girl walks into the bar. Although she walked in rather quickly, she now slowly walks around the bar. The two men shift in their seats. I see the girl retreat to the host stand in a panic and pull out her phone. Which man is her date!? You can see it all over her face. Thank God for internet on phones, she must have been able to pull up the guy's picture and she assuredly walks over to the proper gentleman (the less attractive one). Five minutes later a slightly less attractive girl walks in and tentatively looks around the bar before settling in at the table with the more attractive bachelor number two.

Note to self: do not arrange a first date at the Liberty Tavern.

Ahh, the joys of online dating. I'm not ashamed to say I tried it once. It was fun, but true to Whitney form stressed me out like crazy. After reading Tyler Cowen's Discover your Inner Economist earlier this year, I think I might overthink things even more than I did two years ago when I tried it. What am I signalling with my online profile? What does it mean if hundreds of men look at my profile but only a few "wink" ( equivalent of facebook poking - sooooo lame). Worse yet, what if I get a ton of winks but no emails?! Being able to have a quantifiable barometer on your attractiveness is not fun. That being said, I might try it again if I get bored with my current options. It is nice to be able to screen people, though facebook often does that for me anyways. ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mortgage Interest Deductions - more interesting than you think!

School and work has been crazy this week, I should get back to my one-ish a day posting now.

Currently, I'm totally absorbed in the absurdity of the home mortgage interest deduction. Being a renter, I was totally ignorant of this. It's actually an old stalwart from the initial introduction of our income tax in 1913. Back in the day people paid cash for everything including homes so the interest deduction was primarily envisioned for businesses. Over time, this tax policy - originally intended to encourage business investment - has evolved into one that is defended on the grounds that it promotes homeownership.

Putting aside for the moment whether the government should even be in the business of promoting homeownership, the mortgage interest deduction (MID) is an inefficient way to effect marginal homeownership rates, encourages suburban sprawl, and distorts savings and investment rates. Some also argue that the government is "spending" too much on the mortgage interest deduction, but that assumes that our paychecks are the government's property first and ours second. Since the mortgage interest deduction is primarily utilized by itemizers who are wealthy, the MID doesn't encourage people to buy homes that wouldn't have necessarily purchased otherwise. The MID really just inflates home prices and encourages people to purchase beyond their means which encourages bigger homes further out from city centers. I wouldn't make the environmental argument against it (people have to drive farther and use more energy in bigger homes), but I do have disdain for the inefficiency and sterility of surburbia and thus oppose the MID on those grounds. Lastly, the MID encourages investment in a highly illiquid asset - residential property - and we've seen the costly effects of this in the current crisis. Americans don't save. They rely on their home equity which can be a dangerous gamble.

So on Wednesday, I have to debate an alternative to the MID. The assumption being that it is politically infeasible for the state to totally get out of promoting home ownership and the "American Dream." So we're debating whether we should just nix the MID and not promote homeownership at all or an alternative policy that subsidizes first time home buyers. Somehow I ended up on the government subsidy side, I'm trying to look at it like a challenge. More later this week on how the debate turns out!

Hat tip: my PUBP 741 group members john, tyson, and ryan

More on puppies

Ok, my friend Rebecca Marie had to torture me with this picture this morning. Between the Shiba puppy cam and this picture, I hope my roomies respond to my puppy request favorably.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why I want 3 or 4 munchkins...

Growing up, I loved the tv show, The Waltons. I also enjoyed other big family shows like the Brady Bunch and 7th Heaven, but The Waltons was my fave. (And yes, my current fave is Jon & Kate plus 8 on TLC)

No, I don't actually want 8 children, but three or four would be nice. Here's my reasoning.

First and most importantly, I like kids. They find joy in life’s simplest pleasures and inspire me to be a better person if not for mine but their sake. Secondly, I’m playing the odds. Chances are one or more of my kids could be gay (love it!) or antisocial (knowing me unlikely) or handicapped (God forbid) or just not interested in procreating themselves (whatev). I’d like at least one of them to go on to give me grandbabies. Third, children are the best insurance policy. I’ve always thought that since I’m not banking on Social Security I should bank on babies (The Waltons got through the Depression just fine without government assistance). I was kind of embarrassed to admit this economic rationale for procreation until I read this lovely blogpost at the Economist:
Traditionally, people had more children because they provided free labour or another source of income. Things are not so dire that upper middle class families will send their children to work anytime soon, but grown children can take care of you in your old age. If you’re unable to provide adequate retirement income you might want to have children and invest in their human capital.
Of course, I need a good man first. ;)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tree hugging capitalist

This weekend, I climbed a tree, nestled in, and read a book. I only lasted about 40 minutes in said tree - could have stayed longer with a pillow - but it was quite the enjoyable experience. I found it even more fun because I'm sure people walking by thought I was such the granola. All the while my nose is buried in a book railing against communism.

I'm only halfway through Life and Death in Shanghai, but it's a fabulous autobiographical book about this amazing woman Nien Cheng, and I just have to share! She's a proud Chinese woman who made the mistake of working for a foreign company in Maoist China during the 1950s and 1960s and is persecuted for being such an "imperialist dog." The book begins on the eve of the Cultural Revolution and describes the country's descent into chaos. I'm learning so much about the culture, the history, the politics and from a trusted perspective. Her faith in God and capitalism is inspiring, and something I can really empathize with. Much of what happened in Maoist China seems so absurd - it's humbling to think some of these crimes against humanity could still be going on in China today.

The Puppy Question

I myself have been pondering a puppy purchase, so admittedly I was endeared by Obama's mention of a dog for his girls in his acceptance speech. However, it also stood out for its political suaveness. I mean, he successfully melted my heart just a tad despite my steel resolution to oppose what he stands for. For now, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's not using the puppies for cold hard political gain, but I'll keep my eye on it!

One more silly note about the puppies - Bill Kristol writes:
Obama was, naturally, asked about the promised-but-not-yet-purchased puppy at his press conference Friday. (If one were being churlish, one might say that it was typical of a liberal to promise the dog before delivering it. A results-oriented conservative would simply have shown up with the puppy without the advance hype.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Opinionating yourself into a corner

Are the strongly opinionated necessarily close-minded? I personally don't think that an open mind and an opinion are mutually exclusive, but last night my mother chided me for having 'too much of an opinion.' Part of this is a product of my mother's selective hearing, but I do wonder if there is a grain of truth to what my mother said.

One of my professors says it's nigh impossible to change someone's mind about politics after the age of 15. If an individual's worldview metastasizes in adolescence, are all subsequent opinions merely a result of path dependency? Certainly, your parents, community, and environment help establish your core values. I can't think of too many people who have made a 180 degree political turn post-college. And look at the peer pressure to stay within your stated party and views - friends, family, coworkers help reinforce your beliefs. I pride myself on reading the NYTimes and liberal op-ed writers, but I approach these articles with a bias to criticize. Hopefully, I'm approaching even my favorite like-minded authors with a critical eye, but I'm sure there is a subconscious approval process that undermines my ability to be truly discerning. So I agree that at least my core principles were established early on. My fundamental beliefs in the nature of man, the importance of freedom, and proper role of the state have not changed much in the last decade.

So how to keep an "open mind"? I think what my mother's concern primarily boils down to is a matter of tolerance and humility. Do I approach oppossing viewpoints with patience and a sincere desire to listen? And I shouldn't forget the possibility that I could be wrong. That's the best lesson I've learned so far in my adult life. It's ok to be wrong; not only becuase I often am, but also because it's a learning process. How you deal with being wrong is a better guage of the person you are than most else. So, yeah, I'm working on it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eating the rich

If you're lucky enough like me to have tech-savvy grandparents, you're probably just as 'lucky' to receive those forwarded political anecdotes and jokes that have become common currency amongst the WWII generation. Putting aside my curiosity for why the elderly are so enamored with such e-chain letters, I actually liked this one about taxes that my late grandpa sent a couple years ago. I was amused to stumble upon it on another blog:

TAX System Explained In Simple Terms

Sometimes politicians, journalists and others exclaim; ‘It’s just a tax cut for the rich!’ and it is just accepted to be fact. But what does that really mean? Just in case you are not completely clear on this issue, I hope the following will help. Please read it carefully.

Let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner and the bill for all ten comes to $100.If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
a.. The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.b.. The fifth would pay $1.c.. The sixth would pay $3.d.. The seventh would pay $7.e.. The eighth would pay $12.f.. The ninth would pay $18.g.. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said,’I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.’ Dinner for the ten now cost just $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free, but what about the other six men, the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fairshare?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to eat their meal. So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

a.. The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).b.. The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).c.. The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).d.. The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings)e.. The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).f.. The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’ declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, ‘but he got $10!’

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than me!’

‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start eating overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Hat Tip: Dr. Melissa Clouthier

The silver lining to Obama

When (if) Obama wins, I will take consolation in the following:
  • Obama's mere appearance, ethnicity, and demeanor should get us mad street cred internationally (wouldn't it be nice if he could just be a pr rep for the U.S. with no power? I'd hire him!).
  • The Republicans will have to take a long, hard look at themselves. Hopefully, they'll come back in 2012 more put together and with a firmer grasp on the future direction of the party.
  • "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Dems are bound to screw up controlling 2/3 branches of government.
  • For all practical purposes, we're getting the same bag of tricks whether Obama or McCain wins.
But tonight, I will seek solace in the bottom of a bottle amongst friends.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun Atlas Shrugged reference

Via Reason - "Atlas Mugged"
I want to appease the new administration and not be too productive. So, upon Obama's passing his new redistribution plan, I will slow my work schedule, lay off a few people (Obama's got their back) and let someone else bust his tail since I will now be able to get "redistributed wealth" from those poor fools who are ambitious, energetic, work hard and have made good decisions.
It goes on, so true and funny and yet depressing...

Liberal groupthink

Update on my prof's book Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities.
If there has been a conspiracy among liberal faculty members to influence students, “they’ve done a pretty bad job,” said A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University...
tee hee hee...I wish they were doing a poor job, but these studies also show that students do shift to the left during college. If we can't blame the purposeful influence of the professors, who can we blame?

The real issue, said [Daniel Klein of GMU], who calls himself a libertarian, is that social democratic ideas dominate universities — ideas that play down the importance of the individual and promote government intervention.

Such “academic groupthink” means that the works of such thinkers are not offered enough, he argues. “A major tragedy is that they’re not getting exposed to the good stuff,” he said, citing the works of John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.
And believe it or not, but the NYTimes article gets even better! It mentions the American Council Of Trustees and Alumni (who advocate for more vigorous and fair curriculum).

I'm still incredulous that profs don't directly influence students more - I obvi need to read the book - especially when their very book and topic selections are probably what influence students the most!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thank you W.

Whatever your feelings are for W., he got one thing right in my eyes. He shortened winter. By pushing "fall back" back and "spring forward" sooner, he effectively shortened winter. This is a more efficient usage of our daylight hours and thus saves oodles on energy. So thank you W.

Update on the Somali Pirates...

So I'm fascinated by this modern day piracy story out of Somalia. Here's a BBC article on the standoff over the Ukranian vessel these pirates seized A MONTH AGO. Obvi they decided not to blow it up. They shouldn't have cried wolf so early on, but I also think Russia hasn't caved because they realize what a posh existence these pirates are used to. I'm betting the pirates will lose this one though I'm secretly rooting for them.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who is mesmerized. Here's the NYTimes human interest piece and slideshow on this soap opera.
What is really interesting is that piracy has become so lucrative that some of
“the immutable clan lines that have pitted Somalis against one another for
decades” have broken down in the face of profits.

Ah, the almighty dollar.