Before continuing my narrative later today, let me take just a moment to reply to several comments. Chris, about my personal feelings regarding Marx the man, I should perhaps have said a bit more. Heaven knows, I do not hold it against Marx that he was combative in argument and did not suffer fools gladly. That sounds like a description of me, after all [as well as of Noam, who has a way of eviscerating critics who are, he thinks, just stupid.] What turned me off was learning that Marx took advantage of the family servant, getting her pregnant, and mooched money from colleagues whose annual income was actually less than his own, so that his family could maintain a properly bourgeois lifestyle, and even treated his lifelong colleague, Engels, with coldness, brushing off the news that Engels' mistress, whom Friedrich loved dearly, had died, instead hitting Engels up for some more money. Marx treated those who were closest to him exploitatively, and in my book that is not excused by the fact that he was, and knew he was, a world-historical figure of great importance.
As for Ricardo's style, clarity and precision is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder, but I have found Ricardo's Principles to be a model to be emulated.
And now to the always vexing subject of Hegel. I cut and pasted the link to the essay by Dussel, Ian, and tried to read it. I really did. I found it impenetrable [and not merely because it appeared to have been translated not too well into English.] I guess it is like the symphonies of Mahler, which send some people into ecstasies of delight and leave me looking frantically for the exit. I freely grant that Marx was deeply influenced by Hegel, but his style in CAPITAL is nothing at all like that of Hegel, and is, I contend, actually clear and down to earth, despite the fact that he is dealing with incredibly complex and difficult issues.
Finally, about electing the president: Since I believe that Gore won the 2000 election and had the victory stolen from him by the Supreme Court, there has not actually been any one elected while losing the popular vote since 1888. [Al Gore, not universally considered a humorist, used to open his speeches with a great line: "Good evening. My name is Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States."] I for one would be quite happy to do away with the Electoral College, either by Constitutional Amendment or by a gimmick like the one now being pushed.