Angry Birds and Overheated Rhetoric

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 12.12.24 PMThe AAUW, one of the more  vociferous opponents of the gender pay gap, found that only “a 7 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained” after “accounting for college major, occupation, economic sector, hours worked, months unemployed since graduation, GPA, type of undergraduate institution, institution selectivity, age, geographical region, and marital status”.  They found no more than a 12% gap 10 years on.  In other words, the claims regarding the gender pay gap (which claim a 21% gap) are  vastly over-stated, and are typically based on insupportable arguments that rely on confounded data ([f]or example, women are more likely than men to go into teaching, and this contributes to the pay gap because teachers tend to be paid less than other college graduates. [citing Hegewisch, 2014]).

This conclusion is restated emphatically by Blau and Kahn (2016) who estimate no more than a maximum of a 15% gap across the entire spectrum of employment after adjustment, with most of the remaining gap at the top of the pay continuum!

This is not to say that the gender gap is acceptable.  But what we do need to recognize is that the gender pay gap is nowhere near as bad as alleged (though clearly it is not acceptable), that it is consistently gotten smaller based on current regulations, and that the greatest disparity is in the Board Room, a place far from the immediate concerns of most Americans upset about gender pay issues.

Equal pay for equal work has always been an intriguing idea. Let’s focus on what that really means in a socially and economically just world, and how best to accomplish those ends, and let up just a bit on the rhetoric.



Blau, Francine D., and Lawrence M. Kahn. The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, January 18, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2016.
Cha, Youngjoo, and Kim A. Weeden. “Overwork and the Slow Convergence in the Gender Gap in Wages.” American Sociological Review (April 8, 2014): 0003122414528936. Accessed October 10, 2014.
Hegewisch, Ariane, and Heidi Hartmann. Occupational Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap: A Job Half Done. Institute for Women’s Policy Research, January 2014. Accessed January 30, 2016.
Hill, Catherine. The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Fall 2015). American Association of University Women, n.d. Accessed January 30, 2016.

Has The Old Man of the Forest Gone FEEble

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 8.42.28 PMWell, maybe I have, and I should probably explore this further in a blog post, but for now I will share a few thoughts. A recent HuffPo piece (I know; why does anyone read that horrid crap) by some sniveling snot (Matthew Fray who whines at length on his own blog) suggests that his wife left him not because she was irrational over his insistence on leaving his glass on the counter, but because his insistence revealed that he had no respect for his beloved.  Really. This old fart’s response?

Get a grip! This poor whipped kid thinks that he should do what his wife wanted because she wanted it, instead of doing what he wanted. Forget the umpteen thousand other things he did for her. Sorry – I am not going to wash my glass because I drank out of it, and it will sit by the sink where I set it. Maybe, just maybe, his obsessive (ex-)wife should have loosened up just a bit, instead of following him around and turning lights off…. It’s a two way street, and if you want to spend your interpersonal “currency” on where the dishes go, then you have real problems…. this joker is well off shot of his ex. Now let the claims of misogyny roll in

I don’t have to kowtow to someone because they obsess about something. It is always a two way street, and maybe, just maybe, she should understand that “he’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love” as well, and it’s not about leaving the glass on the counter?

While The Gift of the Magi is in fact one of my favorite O’Henry stories, the practical result of the piece is that the family screwed itself for “love” because they could not effectively communicate. A relationship needs communication more than it needs silent sacrifice.

There! <shudder>I did a Skwire, lol!</shudder> Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, yes, but let’s face it, the possessions sacrificed, as well as the gifts purchased in the story clearly had value, and the couple clearly had very little beyond that.  It is all very good for the 1% to to romanticize about love, but the couple flushed virtually everything they had down the old toilet. Yes, yes, their love is far more precious than feeble trinkets, but that is not the question here. The question here is whether effective interpersonal communication could have brought them to the same juncture without the sacrifice of the family fortune (while unfortunately depriving us of a fine piece of literature).


Lisbeth Zwerger’s illustrations for “Gift of the Magi”

I understand that the woo crowd are going to scream, “You have missed the whole point you hormonal moron!” But I think not.  I get maudlin over the story just like I am sure Mr. Fray might.  But the lesson is NOT just that love is more valuable than trinkets. The lesson (though clearly NOT the lesson the master was intending to serve up) is that the couple were so self-involved in their obsessions that they failed to communicate at all, causing what amounts to a tragedy (as well as the joyful discovery the author celebrates). Money is certainly not everything, but one does not get on without it. Fairy tales celebrating poverty are just what FEE peddles, so I think you should lay that accusation at someone else’s door.

OK, if you want to think I have gone over to the dark side, you are entitled to your thoughts, but for me, being self-involved over you want, and being self-involved in Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.02.27 AMwhat you think another wants, are two sides of the same bad penny.  You are never going to work things out with “knowing glances”, no matter what Cosmo tells you.

Frankly, Father Oleska (Oleska still teaches a State required cross-cultural education class that promotes deferent communications styles and the inherent value of non-verbal-ness) and the entire non-verbal feminine communication crowd can go chat with themselves in their taciturn stillness for all I care. I am for Horton, who meant what he said and  said what he meant (even if his creator, Theodor Geisel, was attacked for being a misogynist).  The rest of you can go suffer in silence.

Quick! Hands up and count!

While we listened to the Facebook echos of this mornings temblor (which give a brand new meaning to ‘”post” traumatic stress disorder’, some us were laughing about Dermot Cole’s coverage of the exchange between David Teal and Tammy Wilson. I mean after all, why should anyone listen to someone talking about the impact of inflation, let alone a <shudder> Mathematician </shudder>.

But snicker all you want, I dare you to count the number of folk who endorse my plan to impose a California style 14% graduated State income tax, which would, I argue, raise close to $3B (I have a Note detailing this somewhere here on FaceBook, lol)?Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 1.35.13 PM

As I have repeatedly noted (see here and here for you Facebook types), most Alaskans make no net payment for any Local or State Government service (that includes EDUCATION) and can well afford a progressive State income tax with a 15% top rate. And most Alaskans have repeatedly told the right wing demagogues that they don’t have a problem paying more in taxes, as long as they are not getting nothing for something.

Face it. The median family income in Anchorage is some $80K (Alaska wide its some $10K less)! That means that half of our families are bringing in more than that, and some MUCH more than that. The median Alaskan family should be paying some $4K towards their receipt of the services they receive from and through government and our wealthiest families are largely getting a free ride at the expense of the less well of.

Of course, the Chicken Little crowd get front page coverage in the local paper with the claim that everyone who is everyone wants to avoid actually being fiscally responsible. Who are these people?  They are the the people who can buy media coverage, who are speaking up for those who seem to be unwilling to pay for what they get – far be it from be to call them welfare queens, you do your own Maths.

Hey folk!  Pay up or Pack up!