Saturday, November 22, 2008

Will Obama Reduce the Minimum Wage

"We now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further," [Obama] said.

The MSNBC headline: Obama: 'Millions of jobs' in danger next year, but there's not a word about the almost 10% rise in the so-called minimum wage slated for the summer of 2009.
He noted turmoil on Wall Street, a decrease in new home purchases, growing jobless claims and the menacing problem of deflation.
That implies that the president-elect seems to be aware of one negative side-effect of the so-called minimum wage: it tends to increase unemployment. The reality is that there has always been, is now, and forever will be a minimum wage of $0. This minimum wage will be paid to more an more American workers as they queue up for unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, companies will invest in capital that improves productivity and reduces labor costs (ie: results in layoffs).
"I will need and seek support from Republicans and Democrats, and I'll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle," he said. "But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action."
Of course he'll reach across the aisle. He doesn't want accountability when he can blame the Republicans. As for "the need for immediate action"... I'm glad to see that the president-elect has learned that expanding government power a la the $700 billion bailout need not benefit the country to benefit our betters in Washington!
"We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together," Obama said. "That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will."
That's it? That's the end? Not a word about government regulation, slated to go into effect Jul24, 2009, that will increase unemployment? There's talk of a "deflationary spiral", but never any explanation of what that is. No indication that the real value of the so-called minimum wage has been rising the past couple of months; no acknowledgment that the real value of $7.25/hour will drive up unemployment.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Loading up on Anheuser Busch stock this past fall was a brilliant way to dodge the market mayhem. I knew it all along! (Except for some nail biting and sleepless nights when I worried that the sale wouldn't go through.) Ah, cash, sweet cash—almost as tasty as cheap beer during a recession!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Questions for Economists

I've been thinking about some things that have passed from the spotlight, but may still be relevant to understanding the financial crisis and the current state of the economy. If you're an economist, or play one on the Internet, please share your thoughts either in the comments below or with a link back from your blog.

1) If it had been available, would M3 data have provided an early warning about the financial mess?

In March of 2006 the Fed stopped publishing M3 data because "the Board judged that the costs of collecting the underlying data and publishing M3 outweigh the benefits." I'm all for fiscal responsibility, but, with the benefit of hindsight, would M3 have indicated a looming disaster? I would think that problems in the credit markets would vacuum up assets in the financial markets causing M3 to fall. Perhaps such an effect would not have been large enough to notice until it was too late.

2) How can we best balance unemployment, the minimum wage, deflation, and inflation over the coming year or two? (And, what are your expectations?)

The US Department of Labor lists the minimum wage at $5.85 in 2007 and $6.55 in 2008. It is scheduled to rise to $7.25 in 2009. Did the 2007 and 2008 minimum wage rate hikes contribute to our worsening economy? Won't the 2009 bump drive unemployment way up? Perhaps I should ask: what are your expectations about deflation? How many months of deflation are we likely to have? Would it be wise for the Fed to allow greater inflation, perhaps by not taking the newly minted money out of circulation, once the hemorrhaging has stopped?

3) Was it speculation that drove oil to its peak last summer and is speculation driving it down now?

I'm not even sure that I accept the premise that speculation contributes anything (except liquidity) to the oil market. Last summer I scoffed at the speculation argument. Now, I'd like to know how much travel has fallen off, whether vast new reserves of oil have come online, or whether other market forces are driving the oil price. Looking at oil today and last summer, is it possible to quantify speculation? For instance, can we determine that last summer's oil price was driven higher by, say, 20% because of speculation?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Russ Roberts has a great opinion piece on discussing the bailout and the credit markets. Roberts point is that the issues with bank lending, the stock market, and consumer sentiment have little to do with liquidity—the availability of cash and credit—and everything to do with the principled risk avoidance caused by uncertainty about future policy direction. While Roberts doesn't explicitly say it, he hints at a second reason: loss of confidence in both markets and government (eg: Treasury Secretary Paulson, the bailout). Here are some key quotes:
Paulson doesn't realize that his erratic attempts at creating liquidity are creating the uncertainty that makes liquidity meaningless.

The great economist F.A. Hayek wrote that "the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."

With each improvisation, Secretary Paulson is proving how little he knows about what he imagines he can design.
Hayek and Roberts deeply understood the opening lines of William Blake's Auguries of Innocence. Paulson does not. Here they are... probably my favorite four lines of poetry:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

Friday, November 14, 2008

They Better Start Teaching Say's Law

Don Surber fields a question about college tuition (via Instapundit):
Question: What fuels college tuition inflation?

Answer: Student loans. From the Chronicle for Higher Education: “The volume of private loans shrank by $173-million, or about 1 percent, to $19.1-billion in 2007-8. That decline reverses years of double-digit growth and does not reflect the recent credit crunch. At the same time, the volume of federal loans rose by 6 percent after inflation.”

You have a volatile mix: Inexperienced borrowers, federally guaranteed lenders and the biggest sharks in capitalism: College presidents. Hence, the double-digit inflation in price.

Say's Law, simply stated, is that supply creates demand. This is why printing money, like the Fed is doing, usually causes inflation: the supply of dollars is larger after the printing but the supply of stuff is not, so the demand for stuff gradually becomes denominated in larger and larger quantities of dollars—prices rise, inflation. But, we have deflation right now, why's that?

The rise in M2 is not as pronounced as what's happened to M0, so the really big measures of our money supply have not moved much. I'm curious what M3 would've shown had it not been discontinued. I think it may have warned of the impending financial mess because, as wikipedia tells us, it includes "institutional money-market funds, short-term repurchase agreements, along with other larger liquid assets." Money-market funds started breaking the buck this past September, so I suspect that M3 data may have indicated the coming storm earlier in the year as it started to decline (well, that's what I think it would've been doing).

Getting back to Say's Law, you have to ask yourself: what is money? The text book answer is that it is a medium of exchange. The greenbacks in your wallet are money. If you've ever rented a car, you've probably learned that credit cards are a better form of money for that transaction. If you've bought a house, then you've learned that reams of legal sized paper signed by several people in triplicate are money.

And why is college tuition going up? Our government, indeed the American people at large based on bond and ballot initiative results, have never seen an educational expense that they do not want. So the supply of money, especially in the form of student loans, for college tuition keeps going up. Many more dollars chasing a few more slots for students, the market clears, inflation.

Bastiat's Candle Makers Live in Ontario

Headline: Online Carpooling Service Fined For Unregulated Transportation (via Slashdot)
...the web offers the ability to find other people traveling to the same general place you're heading and to set up a convenient carpool. It's good for the environment. It's good for traffic. It just makes a lot of sense. Unless, of course, you're a bus company and you're so afraid that people will use such a system rather than paying to take the bus.

A Petition

(Adapted from Bastiat's Economic Sophisms.)

From the drivers of buses and the producers of diesel fuel and generally of everyone connected with taxpayer funded transportation.

To the Honorable Members of an Ontario Court.


You are on the right road. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for the traveling public. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the humble driver of public transportation. You wish to free him from local competition, that is, to reserve the commuter's fare for a regulated industry.

We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for applying your—what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, and, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice—your practice without theory and without principle.

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a local rival who apparently leverages technology so far superior to our own for the transportation of travelers that they are offering their service below our price; for the each traveler that uses this rival, our sales cease, all the travelers turn to them, and a branch of taxpayer subsidized Canadian transportation is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than PickupPal, is waging war on us so mercilessly that we suspect they are being stirred up against us by perfidious Barbados (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because they have for that haughty island a respect that they do not show for us.

Now go read the unadulterated version!

Watching the Watchers

Via Instapundit and Ace: "Six agencies illegally scoured Joe the Plumber's records for dirt, including office of the attorney general, so that information could be turned over to national media." Ace goes on:
Check out this spin: The claim is they wanted to ensure the media wasn't misreporting information about [Joe the Plumber's] infamous thousand-dollar tax lien ...

They were protecting Joe from the media, you see. By passing them the fruits of illegal private-records searches.
Governments are not the only bureaucracies that can violate one's privacy. Last month twenty hospital workers were fired for HIPAA violations stemming from their snooping in the medical records of the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive tackle Richard Collier. California has also fired a few people for HIPAA violations. The Mercury News reports:
Billingsley said UCLA hospital workers inappropriately accessed records of 1,041 patients since 2003. The hospital later disciplined 165 employees through firings, suspensions and warnings.

One former administrative employee, Lawanda Jackson, faces federal charges for allegedly selling information from Fawcett's medical records to a tabloid.
In corporate America, violations of privacy also result in firings. A couple years ago, AOL's CTO resigned and two employees were fired for privacy violations. In North Carolina a fired employee of a small business plead guilty to "intruding on her former company's e-mails and using the information fraudulently." If she released the information to the media for the betterment of society maybe she could have asked the judge for leniency at trial.

Violating the privacy of a politician can land you in jail—Palin's email hacker David Kernell looks forward to a court date in 2009. It can also precipitate a constitutional crisis when the tax payer funded Justice Department wants to investigate the tax payer funded office of a tax payer salaried Congressman, William Jefferson (D-LA), for evidence of malfeasance with tax payer money.

Here's my recommendation: whenever someone accesses my private data, send me an email or text message. Ideally, the email should include:
  1. date and time my information was accessed
  2. reason for the access
  3. name of the person who accessed my data
  4. contact information for follow-up
I think #3 will draw the most criticism. Perhaps an employee number would be more acceptable. Still... I can't help but think: When you're working on my dime—when you're drawing a salary from my tax dollars—you do not have the presumption of privacy at work. When government employees assume that they do have privacy at work, it leads to the abuse of power that Instapundit and Ace reported on. If government employees know that citizens will be notified of every access, then those employees will be more accountable to the people paying their salaries.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Down a Peg

Instapundit gets well-deserved praise for not getting demoralized by McCain's loss. I think one of the silver linings of Obama's victory is that the vice presidency is going to be less active than it was with Cheney or Gore.

Community Service Redux

I can see Catalano's point (via Instapundit), but I think he glides past the issue of church involvement with community service. It really comes down to whether or not community service sponsored by religious institutions will be credited by the state. I don't expect any issues with Church youth groups staffing soup kitchens, but what about those same youth groups performing Handel's Messiah in a local park, or, to take it one step further, performing Be Thou My Vision in that park? The reaction on the right is largely driven by a fear that Christians and people of faith really aren't wanted in the state sponsored community.

John Galt Strikes in Chicago

This story seems to imply that Atlas is shrugging in the Windy City. Here are a couple of quotes:
...the news is especially alarming because the discussion concerns not just city jobs, but the private sector.

On Wednesday, Mayor Daley joined with local gas company officials to announce new programs to help low-income customers pay their heating bills.

[Mayor Daley] disclosed that corporate leaders are telling him they are planning huge layoffs in November and December, which will leave many Chicagoans out of work.

Mayor Daley also warned that local governments will be in jeopardy and may not have enough money to meet payroll, although he is not worried about paying City of Chicago employees.
Well at least city employees will be available to help the poor pay their heating bills!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Surveilling Sickness

Drudge has a flash up about Google volunteering to provide a new tool to help federal officials determine where searches for "flu" are coming from geographically. I've included the full text of the Drudge flash below.

I think there are some really valuable uses for Google's aggregated hive mind. Perhaps this is one of them. Is this sort of thing easy to subvert? If you wanted to make it appear that there's more interest in "flu" somewhere, you would have to generate more searches from that area. I don't think it would be hard for a nefarious group to drive around to various local wireless hotspots and do that. It sounds like Google's using a cluster of search terms, so maybe it is not easily subverted.

And how do they deal with local media inadvertently driving the searches? For example, if a local news report causes a spike in the searches for "flu", does the CDC respond before figuring out that there are no more flu cases than usual? Are these sorts of false positives common enough to obscure the signal in a lot of noise? I guess we will find out.

Update: Slashdot has more including a link to the new Google Flu Trends which includes information on how it works.

Update 2: Instapundit has a couple of links covering the privacy angle. In one, Orin Kerr promises to write an article on a Search Engine Privacy Act. In the other, the Vodkapundit's Stephen Green, reminds us of Google's moto: don't be evil. I still think Google's Flu Trends is possible without infringing on privacy, but I understand the concern. Drudge's headline "Sick Surveillance" is much more inflammatory than it needs to be. That said, I'm very interested in Orin Kerr's Search Engine Privacy Act.

Full text on Drudge:
Tue Nov 11 2008 15:34:50 ET

GOOGLE will launch a new tool that will help federal officials "track sickness".

"Flu Trends" uses search terms that people put into the web giant to figure out where influenza is heating up, and will notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in real time!

GOOGLE, continuing to work closely with government, claims it would keep individual user data confidential: "GOOGLE FLU TRENDS can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur each week."

Engineers will capture keywords and phrases related to the flu, including thermometer, flu symptoms, muscle aches, chest congestion and others.

Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of influenza surveillance at CDC: "One thing we found last year when we validated this model is it tended to predict surveillance data. The data are really, really timely. They were able to tell us on a day-to-day basis the relative direction of flu activity for a given area. They were about a week ahead of us. They could be used... as early warning signal for flu activity."

Eric Schmidt, GOOGLE's chief executive vows: "From a technological perspective, it is the beginning."

Thomas Malone, professor at M.I.T.: "I think we are just scratching the surface of what's possible with collective intelligence."


A View from Germany

Davids Medienkritik blog provides a view of America from the perspective of German media. In a recent post about how German media will respond to Obama's election. The four responses that he offers are:
  1. Condescending Euphoria
  2. Cynicism
  3. Let's Feel Better
  4. America in Cultural Decline
I think that cynicism is the most likely response, but that's probably just projection. Davids has another post about this week's issue of Der Spiegel. The cover declares: "The World President: What He Wants to Do - What He Can (Not) Do", so they seem to be starting with a little bit of euphoria mixed with realism. Let's hope the realism wins out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gorelick for AG

Glenn Reynolds brings news that Jamie Gorelick is being considered for Attorney General. She does have a certain expertise when it comes to trillion dollar disasters. Is there anyone else that was a player in both 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown?

A new job for Jamie—that's change you can believe in!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Little Nukes, Big Idea

The UK's Guardian has a story about miniature nuclear reactors designed to power about 20,000 homes and costing about $25M.
The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.
It sounds like their solution to the disposal of nuclear waste may be to simply leave it encased in concrete underground, but then they do talk about refueling them every seven to ten years. Who knows...

As Glenn Reynolds would say: Faster please!

Why I Started Blogging

Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek describes the Theater of the Absurd that is America's first quagmire: Washington, DC. He eloquently opines:
It is not too much of a simplification to note that America is divided into two groups of persons: those who believe in their bones that what goes on in Washington is largely a serious quest by serious people to tackle serious problems seriously, and those who understand that what goes on in Washington is largely theater scripted so that the actors and actresses appear at first glance to be 'public servants' but in fact care for nothing nearly as much as maximizing their power and satisfying their megalomania.
I'm firmly in the later group of persons.

I started blogging shortly after the bailout passed. I was momentarily buoyed when the House voted it down that Monday a couple months ago. I saw a glimmer that the leviathan bailout might not survive in the Senate. I called both of my senators and my representative and urged no votes later in the week. That was the first time I've called my congresscritters. It will not be the last.

On Thursday of that week, after the Senate had voted overwhelmingly for the bailout, I was struck by the horrible realization that Congress was going to do something. The efficacy of the bill was not important. Larding it up with earmarks for wooden (but not plastic) arrow manufacturers didn't matter. The bailout was going to pass because Congress could never be seen as irrelevant. Don't you know that markets depend on the good graces of Congress to function? Why, it's none other than Congress that's responsible for enforcing Say's Law. Doing nothing was never a realistic option for those self-important popinjays.

And that is why they should all be fired at the end of each of their terms. Perhaps spending some time in their home districts will reacquaint them with the people they serve.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Child Labor (UPDATED)

It is worthy of particular remark that, in general, women and children are rendered more useful, and the latter more early useful, by manufacturing establishments, than they would otherwise be.—Alexander Hamilton

Gateway Pundit brings news of Obama's plans to require children in middle and high school to perform fifty hours of service annually. Savor for a moment the irony of our first African-American president re-introducing involuntary servitude then consider that he does not specify whether this child labor is going to be compelled with the minimum wage or something more forceful. And do rid your mind of any inappropriate comparisons to other national youth programs.

I suppose it's good to see The One's enlightened return to a first principal of our great country: to wit, that children should be gainfully employed. Alexander Hamilton thought that child labor would be a boon to our manufacturing industries. He was proved correct and child labor laws eventually ended the practice. Perhaps there were reasons for those child labor laws. (At that last link, please disregard the section titled "Forced or Compulsory Recruitment of Children for Use in Armed Conflict.")

I sincerely doubt that these children will be gainfully employed since, as any good Keynesian like Our Dear Leader knows, "The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up." Perhaps someone would be kind enough to mention Bastiat's insights about the broken window...

I would personally like to thank all of the college students that worked on Obama's campaign. Since his plan calls for a hundred hours from each of you annually, you can continue doing so!

Update: Coyote Blog observes that the way to tax people who do not make money is to take away their labor.

Update 2: Greg Mankiw sees this as a sort of new draft. I'll note that America's most decorated Marine, Smedley Butler, lied about his age to serve his country. I can only wonder who the first such patriotic fourth or fifth grader will be!

Update 3: Glenn Reynolds has noticed with an unusually verbose: "FREEDOM!" and link to a blurb at Overlawyered. What does the Instapundit think of the constitutionality of the proposal?

Update 4: While not directly related, Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek mentioned the passing of Marshall Fritz on election day. Fritz was the founder of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State. It's likely that his organization will be in the vanguard of this fight, so do what you can to support them. Here's information on donating and here's their How Can You Help page.

Update 5: Dr. Helen believes it will be no more successful than the government's self-esteem programs of the 70's and 80's. She (and her commenters) ask: why not make it voluntary? That would be a reasonable improvement, but why not start there? Why did they choose to start with "required" service?

Update 6: Glenn Reynolds brings news that the site has been edited and the community service has been reframed as a goal not a requirement—perhaps that's why they call it The new text is:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.
For reference, here's a copy of Gateway Pundit's screen grab. The text above is a re-write of the portion underlined in red:

He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.—George Orwell
Update 7: Kudos to the Obama team for making this slight policy adjustment! I'd recommend that you guys port the site to a wiki. That will allow everyone to see the sausage being made—the historical edits to each page. Open government is a very good thing and it will prevent the new administration from being painted as Orwellian.

Last Update: Re-reading my initial post I have to admit that I was a bit over the top. What can I say... I was pretty fired up.

Cliff Mason over at CNBC has a post arguing that mandatory voluntary service is an oxymoron. Boston-based blogger Arkady finds irony in the pre-election fear that McCain would bring back the draft and is rightly concerned about the growth of government. I think he implicitly understand The Practical Rules of Bureaucracy. I will have a lot more to say about those someday...

Some final thoughts... Child labor law is not (and should not) be a barrier to high schoolers and college students doing volunteer work. I like the idea of encouraging children to do more work. In fact, I'm currently reading Young Bucks: How to Raise a Future Millionaire which encourages parents to train your children in entrepreneurship at an early age. (Here's the Glenn and Helen Show interview with author Troy Dunn.) My fear is that an Obama administration would structure volunteer work to preclude or restrict volunteering through religious organizations and religiously aligned colleges.

My brother was enrolled in ROTC at Grove City college his freshman year. The following year there was effectively no ROTC at Grove City. I believe that was a result of the Grove City College v. Bell decision and administrative actions at the college. I agree with the left that Federal dollars should not be spent on religiously affiliated institutions; however, I also believe that individuals should be empowered to choose such institutions and the way to empower them is to reduce their tax obligation on a dollar for dollar basis. Note that this works very well with my Pigovian Income Tax proposal... something else I'll have more to say about later.

Child labor law also needs to be re-visited. In particular, it needs to be modernized to recognize and encourage children to work in the IT sector. I have no specific recommendations because I know very little about the law, but I am sure that laws written a fifty or a hundred years ago to address problems in agrarian and industrial work can not all still be relevant.

Fiscal Restraint Returns!

If you look closely at the graph below, you'll notice that the Federal Reserve has slowed the rate of expansion of the money base (M0). I think one of their printing presses broke down under the heavy load and I'm optimistic that more will follow suit. Ah, in the absence of a cogent monetary policy, I'm pinning my hopes on hardware failures to get us through this mess!

See also: Your Tax Dollars at Work, Money Supply

The Future is Here

This does not bode well for The One's redistributionist plans: Obama Campaign Workers Angry Over Unpaid Wages. (via Drudge)

Update: Gatewaypundit has a video news report.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shelby Steele in the LA Times

Shelby Steele has an excellent article in the LA Times today. When reading that piece I got a sense of wistful sadness about race in America. You can see what I mean in the first couple of lines:
For the first time in human history, a largely white nation has elected a black man to be its paramount leader. And the cultural meaning of this unprecedented convergence of dark skin and ultimate power will likely become -- at least for a time -- a national obsession.
The same sense of despondence appears later:
The torture of racial conflict in America periodically spits up a new faith that idealism can help us "overcome" -- America's favorite racial word.
In my essay last week, American Awakening, I outline a couple of steps on America's long racial sojourn. Those steps will not "overcome" the issue, but they will inform our discussion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hope or Insight?

The media is one of the least trusted institutions in the country. Many people think that the media openly lies to promote their own agenda. If you are one of those people that does not trust the MSM, would you feel compelled to honestly tell them your preferred presidential candidate? Are you going to be truthful with the WashingtonPost-ABC news poll, CNN/Opinion Research, Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby, or Fox News/Opinion Dynamics? What about Gallup or Rasmussen? Since the two linked articles above are based on polls, what good are they anyway?

I think this is one of the reasons that there's so little confidence in the horserace polls this year.

Update: In light of Obama's historic victory, it must have been hope that buoyed my doubts about polling. The polls proved to be more or less spot on. I'm sure has more to say about that.

Congratulations to President elect Obama!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Just Hung-up on Rassmussen

That's (at least) the third pollster I've hung-up on this political season. I'm not the only one doing it. Jerry Pournelle (via Instapundit) has hung-up on five pollsters. Jerry remarks:
The polls do not record the "refused to respond"... and I suspect that more McCain people refuse to respond than the trendier Obama enthusiasts.
But the election is not over. There are more decline to answer voters than it takes to change the election.
The way to win elections is to get those who intend to vote for your candidate to go vote. Few readers here are not capable of getting two or three voters to the polls. That's well over a million votes. Think on it.
Don't just think on that. Make a plan to vote. Talk to your friends and relatives and plan for the great voting field trip. My daughter will be in pre-school so I'll have a couple hours to wait in line to vote. If you've got an infant, toddlers, or multiple schedules to work around, then you need a voting buddy. Ask a friend or relative to join you on your trek. One of you can supervise the kids at Monkey Joes or McDonalds or even at home while the other votes. Perhaps you and your voting buddy are in the same precinct and can help each other corral the tots at the polls. Think of it as a good civics lesson topped off with a trip for hot chocolate afterwards.

I want to return to polling for a second... I've been thinking to myself: "why do I keep hanging-up on pollsters?" And I think I have an answer. I've noticed that I'm generally pretty agitated when I learn that it's a pollster—I get at least one sales call a day, every day, and I'm never as annoyed as I've been when I get a pollster. Annoyed isn't quite right... I'm livid when it's a pollster.

I see the pollsters as part of the MSM. There's the WashingtonPost-ABC news poll, CNN/Opinion Research, Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby, and Fox News/Opinion Dynamics. Rassmussen and Gallup may not have an explicit media sponsor, but they still seem like part of the MSM. As a conservative, I'm certain that the MSM is covering for Obama, so I believe my refusal to talk to pollsters comes from the reasonable fear that those pollsters will use my opinion to carry more water for the Obama campaign.

As Victor Davis Hanson observed the other day: "we have never quite seen anything like the current media infatuation with Barack Obama." It's not only the MSM that's coming to an end. Their implosion will continue to result in damage to organizations and individuals within their orbit.