The Low Information Voter And The Demise Of America – Part Three

The Low Information Voter And The Demise Of America –  Part Three by Peter Burrows 8/30/14

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can watch William Buckley interview Thomas Sowell on a 1981 Firing Line show. The issues discussed are still relevant.

Sowell, now in his 80’s, was just starting to be recognized as one of America’s leading scholars. At the time, he had written about a dozen books, and now his total is forty, plus another ten or so of collected essays.  He is long overdue for at least one Nobel prize in economics.

Buckley’s other guest was Harriet F. Pilpel, whom Buckley introduced as a distinguished attorney and feminist.  She impressed me as snobish, elitist, and probably racist.  She could not accept, for example, that an uneducated mother could possibly make better decisions about her children’s education than government experts, so why bother with school vouchers and school choice?

Like liberals everywhere and always, she could not understand that poor, uneducated people are poor and uneducated, NOT STUPID.

She died in 1991 at age 79, and her obituary notes she was a frequent guest on Buckley’s show, and also that she was a long-time ACLU member. (Buckley had a number of good friends on the left of the political spectrum, most notably John Kenneth Galbraith.) She was a graduate of Vassar and Columbia Law, i.e. a highly educated woman.

Sowell became visibly agitated by Ms. Pilpel’s inability to understand that discrimination plays such a minor role in the income disparities of women and minorities.  You see, without discrimination by evil white people, male chauvinist pigs and Republicans there would be no need for affirmative action, the EEOC, feminist causes and all the other BS that makes people like Ms. Pilpel feel good about themselves.

I enjoyed her very much.  She was a wonderful confirmation of my bias against most liberals, especially wealthy East Coast liberals. Over thirty years later, today’s liberals are still spouting the same nonsense about the same issues. Plus ca change, eh?

The gender pay gap, for example, was recently called “an embarrassment” by President Obama: “Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns — in 2014, that’s an embarrassment. It is wrong.” (Remarks on equal pay for equal work, April 8, 2014.)

The next day, The Washington Post, no conservative bastion, ran a story under “Washington Post Fact Checker” subtitled, “President Obama’s persistent ‘77-cent’ claim gets a new Pinocchio rating: Two vs. One.”

When the Washington Post fact checker finds stories or statements that don’t gibe with the facts, the perpetrators are awarded one to four Pinocchios, One being “some shading of the facts, selective telling of the truth,” four being “Whoppers.”

The Washington Post article of April 9, 2014 by Glenn Kessler, had this to say about Obama’s “77-cent” gender gap: “In 2012— The Fact Checker took a deep dive into the statistics behind this factoid and found it wanting.  We awarded the president only (one) Pinocchio, largely because he is citing Census Bureau data, but have wondered since if we were too generous.  We also called out the president when he used this fact in the 2013 State of the Union address, and in the 2014 State of the Union address. And yet he keeps using it, as do many other Democrats.”

The rest of the article has a pretty good rundown on why the pay gap disappears when all factors are considered.  Included was the finding that “women who do not get married have virtually no wage gap –.” Sowell made the same point in 1981 on Firing Line. (1981!) He said the pay gap between single women and single men was very misleading because “never married” single women frequently had HIGHER incomes than their male counterparts.

(Marriage interrupts many more female careers than male careers, and career interruptions hurt earning power, but the category “single” doesn’t distinguish between women with interrupted and uninterrupted careers.  The divorced or widowed woman thrown back into the job market is going to suffer a lower income than if she had never married and never left the job. That’s just a sad fact of life.)

For a really thorough analysis of the gender pay issue, I strongly recommend Kay Hymowitz’s articles on the topic, especially “Why the Gender Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever.”, City Journal, Summer 2011.  For more distaff objections to gender gap demagoguery, Google June E. O’Neill, another brilliant lady.

The Washington Post article concludes by noting that the Census Bureau’s raw 77-cent figure is, from the Democrats’ perspective, “golden,” something Democrats “can keep bringing up every two years.”  The president, however, should “acknowledge that ‘77 cents’ does not begin to capture what is actually happening in the work force and society. Thus we are boosting the rating on this factoid to Two Pinocchios.”

They were tempted to go to three but didn’t because “the president was relying on an official government statistic—.”  Horse pucky, as MASH’s Colonel Sherman T. Potter would say.  The president is engaging in demagoguery approaching outright lying, and I think he’s smart enough to know it. He doesn’t care, because getting a couple of Pinocchios from the Washington Post is an inside the beltway joke, something the rest of the country won’t pay any attention to.

The same standards used to get the 77-cent figure also show that on the president’s staff women earn only 91- cents per dollar of men‘s wages.  That’s good compared to women working for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who are paid only 70 cents for every dollar men make.

So what and who cares? The low information voter is going to hear the 77-cent mantra and buy into the charge that Republicans are against equal pay for equal work. To further this low-info-vote-getter theme, on April 1 — an apt date — of this year, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Similar bills have bounced around Congress since 2009 and none have gone far, probably because no one, except lawyers, really wants to implement such a draconian overhaul of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, known as the Equal Pay Act.

Wikipedia has a detailed description of the bill, and under Debate and Discussion has the following:  “Democrats said they intend to use the votes on this bill and the issue of equal pay as political issues in the 2014 midterm elections. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told reporters that ‘pay equity, that’s women, that’s 53 percent of the vote.’ ”

Schumer is correctly assuming that Republicans will vote against the bill, especially since no amendments are being allowed by Harry Reid in the senate, and that it blatantly benefits trial lawyers, a Democrat special interest group, by removing caps on punitive damages against businesses found guilty of discriminating against women.  Plus, as I read it, the bill places proof of innocence on the accused, i.e. accused employers are guilty until proven innocent.  Of the lawyers, by the lawyers and for the lawyers.

Expect the Democrats to beat this old pay-gap lie for all its worth. For example, first term Senator from Massachusetts, rising progressive star and Cherokee descendent Elizabeth Warren, recently gave a speech laying out her 11 “Commandments of Progressivism,” number eight being: “We believe – I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 – we believe in equal pay for equal work.”

Gosh, Senator, Harvard Professor and Native American wanna be, so do the rest of us.  And if you actually believe there ISN’T equal pay for equal work, why don’t you start a company and hire women for 78-cents on the dollar, a raise from the 77-cent MCP companies pay, and then put those 100-cent male companies out of business, thanks to your lower wage costs?

Oh well, that would require thinking instead of emoting.  Speaking of which, Senator Barbara Mikulski, who introduced the bill, said, “It brings tears to my eyes to know women are working so hard and  being paid less– it makes me emotional when I hear that — I get angry, I get outraged and I get volcanic.”

Oh, my. What to say? One is at a loss for words.  Perhaps it’s time to channel my dear late grandmother, whose default emotion was compassion: “Oh, the poor Dear.” Or, perhaps it is time to bend over and call into service what Mark Twain called “the nether throat” and deliver unto Ms. Mikulski an appropriate response, also volcanic.

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