Supplemental: The way our liberal professors talk!

TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2015

Gorilla dust and the gender wage gap:
Over the next several days, we’ll consider the way our liberal professors sometimes talk when they become engaged in policy debates.

For today, we thought we’d revisit a fascinating cable news event. We refer to the evening when Rachel Maddow discussed, or perhaps pretended to discuss, the size and nature of the gender wage gap.

On Sunday, April 29, 2012, Maddow had appeared on Meet the Press. She had repeatedly made the standard presentation, saying that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing “the exact same work.”

Maddow was challenged by Alex Castellanos, who said her claim was wrong. On her MSNBC show the next evening, Maddow said she had spent hours that day trying to determine what Castellanos possibly could have meant.

She still had no earthly idea, Maddow said, quite improbably, during a long and angry opening segment.

Finally, it was time to call in the expert! Maddow introduced Professor Hartmann of George Washington University, the “founder and president of the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research.”

Below, you see the first Q-and-A between Maddow and Hartmann.
In this exchange, Hartmann says that Maddow was wrong in her claim the previous day. But she says this in such a way that viewers almost surely couldn’t tell.

Alas! Maddow posed a murky question. The professor responded in kind:
MADDOW (4/30/12): I know that you at the women’s—Institute for Women’s Policy Research, you have done some of the most important and most highly publicized work on this issue. Is there any way that the idea of a gender-based disparity is something that depends on how you look at it? Is this something other than a blunt truth about the American economy?

PROFESSOR HARTMANN: Well, I mean, you obviously have by far the better part of the argument. You’ve got the Census Bureau and I might mention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics agreeing with you. Oh, also, I could mention the U.S. General Accountability Office.

I think what the issue is for the Republicans is that they believe that that’s not—no matter how big the wage gap is, almost none of it is due to discrimination. And of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination. But the GAO study that I just mentioned did. They said that even when you put everything you can possibly think of in the regression equations, the statistical analyses to try to make that gap go away, you can’t explain at least 20 percent of it.

Now most other studies place the part you can’t explain as a quarter to a half. So a large part of the gap probably is due to discrimination. But that seems to be what the debate is.
There was a time when we thought we probably knew what Professor Hartmann was saying there. By now, her statement seems even harder to parse than we once understood.

That said, Professor Hartmann quickly said this: “Of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination.” She proceeded to discuss how much of the 23 percent gap is actually due to discrimination, and how much of the gap can be “explained” in some other way.

“A large part of the gap probably is due to discrimination,” the professor said. She seemed to say that one quarter to one half of the gap stems from that cause.

Here’s the problem: on Meet the Press, Maddow had insisted that the full 23 percent gap was caused by discrimination. She seemed to think that the 23 percent statistic was intended as a measure of same.

Professor Hartmann’s second statement was even harder to follow. But as she roamed the countryside, she eventually offered this:
PROFESSOR HARTMANN: I mean, these regression analysis, they include occupation. They include your education, number of years of experience, maybe sometimes marital status, number of children—just about anything you can think of. And you cannot make the whole gap go away. So there is discrimination.
“You cannot make the whole gap go away,” the professor said. “So there is discrimination.”

Some experts dispute even that; they say the remaining gap may turn out to be due to some non-discriminatory cause which hasn’t yet been discovered. But Maddow had said, the day before, that the entire 23 percent gap was due to discrimination.

Hartmann kept rejecting that view, even as she threw clouds of gorilla dust which almost surely kept cable viewers confused.

Professor Hartmann was almost completely incoherent this night. Maddow’s murky, imprecise questions only deepened the confusion.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to answer this question:

Was Hartmann acting in good faith during this murky conversation? Or, as a good progressive, was she throwing gorilla dust to 1) avoid embarrassing Maddow and 2) to keep a pleasing tribal claim alive?

We liberals may be inclined to think that our professors don’t do things like that. The sentiment is understandable. But we can assure you they do!

For many years, it was “experts” on the right who created and enabled the bogus claims which drove our hopeless public discussions. Today, a great deal of this skilled dissembling occurs over here on the left.

How much of the “gender wage gap” does result from discrimination? It’s hard to say, in large part because of the bogus claims and gorilla dust thrown up by journalists, professors and “experts” over here in our camp.

(Some experts says the part of the gap which is caused by discrimination is something like five cents on the dollar. We have no real idea, in part because our own tribe works to keep the question from being discussed.)

We tribals love our bogus old claim about the size of the gap! It thrills the tribe when we state it, so our journos and experts keep churning it out. Getting back to last week’s Oscars flap, it may be that Patricia Arquette has heard the familiar old claim and believes it.

Or not. Needless to say, no one asked.

Rush and Sean have always played the game this way. Increasingly, our team also plays it this way. We’ll offer more nightmares from liberal professors as the week proceeds. We find it hard to believe that this kind of academic/journalistic dissembling serves progressive interests.

Do the plutocrats cheer when we play it this way? We’d be inclined to think yes. Our bogus claims drive wedges deeper. They keep us divided and conquered.

55 comments:

  1. It is unfair to complain that complex issues are complex.

    Somerby pretends he does not know what discrimination is, and that it can have both direct and indirect effects. The direct one is when an employer blatantly pays a woman less than a man for the same job (the same work). The indirect one is when women are restricted to part-time work because they must be home when the kids get out of school because most of the parenting activities fall on her shoulders, affecting her likelihood of promotion, raises and layoffs at her job. Both of these situations are "discrimination" faced by women.

    Who doesn't understand this? When experts use statistical regression to eliminate everything but the blatant direct discrimination, by adjusting for hours-worked, years-on-the-job, education-level and similar factors affecting pay rates, they are not saying that these other factors cannot or do not reflect discrimination too. They are saying that these are not direct discrimination. Conservatives may pretend that this is the only legitimate type of discrimination, the only form that anyone needs to be upset about, they may claim this is the only unfair discrimination, or they may argue that because this impact is smaller than all forms of discrimination combined (reflected by that 77%) it doesn't matter, but no progressive should be making such arguments.

    Calling the 77% a bogus claim seems to make the conservative case, not a progressive one. That the 77% has become a short-hand reference to all forms of discrimination affecting women is perhaps unfortunate, but that doesn't make it wrong.

    I am sick of Somerby arguing this topic. Unless he wishes to argue that women are not unfairly treated in the workforce, I think he needs to drop this.

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    1. Good input, and well-stated. However, the more you prove him wrong, the more he triples down on even his false statements of alleged act.

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    2. "he triples down"

      Especially when he's just sharpened his thinslicer.

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    3. "The indirect one is when women are restricted to part-time work because they must be home when the kids get out of school because most of the parenting activities fall on her shoulders."

      a) This is not true. For the last 50 years or so, it has been understood that either mom or dad must be available when after-school care lets out around 6pm in most places.

      b) Even if it were true, how is this discrimination? Should women be paid for more hours than they put in when they choose to work part-time for parenting reasons? Should men be paid for less hours than they work if they have children they are forbidden from raising?

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    4. Most of the time it is mom, even if dad is permitted to pick up the kids too. Most of the sick days are with mom, not dad. Most of the housework related to childcare (laundry, cooking) is done by mom, not dad. Even in egalitarian households, when they study the actual work being done, it is mostly the mom.

      This is an unfair division of labor because women are punished in earnings and retirement for the time they devote as parents, whereas men are less so. Theoretically, it could be different but that isn't how it actually happens in most families.

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  2. "Professor Hartmann was almost completely incoherent this night."

    Actually, Professor Hartmann was completely coherent. Unfortunately, she said -- quite plainely -- things Somerby didn't want to hear. So he pretends she made no sense.

    Kinda like my kids when they say I'm yelling at them. No, I'm just telling them things they don't want to hear.

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  3. @ 2:54 starts the comment box off on a complicated foot saying:

    "It is unfair to complain that complex issues are complex.

    Somerby pretends he does not know what discrimination is, and that.."

    Let's keep it simple. Somerby starts off lying.

    "On Sunday, April 29, 2012, Maddow had appeared on Meet the Press. She had repeatedly made the standard presentation, saying that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing “the exact same work.”"

    She did not say that. Not repeatedly. Not once.

    It is possible she was planning to say it. I don't know. Anything is possible. But she never got that statement out in a sentence we can find in the transcript to which Somerby links. Whenever she uttered the words "77 cents" Alex Castellano interrupted her. Whenever she talked about "equal work" or the "same work" she never mentioned 77 cents.

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    1. I remember this post. She did say it. She did it by juxtaposing two sentences, creating an implication. I know you do not understand implication -- most normal people do. She is not off the hook because she didn't put 77 cents and equal work in the same sentence. She put them in the same paragraph (or series of spoken sentences on a single topic).

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    2. "I know you do not understand implication ...."

      I know you do not read minds.

      FTFY - you're welcome.

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    3. You remember a post? A post written by Bob Somerby??

      Where Bob Somerby supplied the "implication for Rachel Maddow???

      And you think that proves squat? Squadoosh?? Squadiddley???

      Read the damn transcript. That is what Somerby supposedly based his post on. She didn't say it repeatedly as now claimed by the blogger. She didn't say it once. She didn't say it period.

      You wish Bob Somerby was 77 cents on the dollar honest on this issue. He ain't at a plug nickel's worth in the factual department.

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    4. I vote Maddow fast and loose with the facts. It's as if they can't help but sprinkle a "for the same work" in there somewhere to sweeten the argument.

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    5. Well, there you have it: the well paid Ms. Fast and Loose up against the underpaid Mr. Fabricator and Liar.

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    6. Anonymous @ 5:55 takes the case for the kookiest defense of Somerby in a while:

      "She did say it. She did it by juxtaposing two sentences, creating an implication. I know you do not understand implication -- most normal people do.

      Here is what someone we all know once said about implication:

      "Be careful when people report what someone implied without presenting what they said. We tend to present long clunky block-quotes to obviate this problem."

      Bob Somerby TDH 3/10/12

      Three short years. How quickly he forgets.

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    7. At least we can all agree that the 77 cents for the same work is a bogus statistic. It doesn't help the cause when easily debunked claims are presented as proof.

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    8. If we really want to advance progressive causes we have to prioritize. In our view, easily debunked claims are the third biggest threat. The second biggest threat is easily debunked claims that are never made. The implications of that are larger.

      Far and away the number one threat is in large part gorilla dust. Worse than bogus claims in our view.

      You are not going anywhere until you get that stuff the pseudo liberals are spreading all over everywhere.

      How large is in large part, you ask? We don't know, But when you step in it you can imagine it is just everywhere. Gorilla dust in your nose. Gorilla dust in your eyes. Gorilla dust in your teeth causing you to taste gorillas with every bite you take, every breath you make. And they are watching you.

      Did we tell you 77 cents was the minimum wage when we grew up. That doesn't sound like much now, but you could buy plenty when you had a job back then.

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    9. Why do "we" have to prioritize on certain issues and put others on the back burner, and who decides what "we" should priortize? Somerby?

      I can certainly understand Obama "prioritizing" the nation's first national health care plan, but at the same time, I don't think the immigration reform folks were wrong in continuing to draw attention to that issue.

      Incidentally, Somerby's little game of calling others "pseudo-liberals" which you easily regurgitate is not only tribalism at it's worst, it's also a game of "divide and conquer" isn't it?

      So I think gender/wage inequality is a big problem and you and your mentor don't. That makes me the "pseudo-liberal", right?

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  4. Perhaps part of the reason for the 23 percent pay difference is that women might be less effective employees than men, on average. The confusing and dishonest comments from Maddow and Hartman would tend to support this theory.

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    1. Ask your wife, Dinky.

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    2. Well thought-out and well-supported brain-fart. Maybe David says things like this because he lives in California and has breathed in too much weed. It's hard to say one way or the other.

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    3. David suggests this as if it hasn't been studied repeatedly in a variety of job contexts. Women can and do perform as well as men, if not better, by all objective measurements. There is variability (good and bad performance) among women just as there is among men. The means are too close to use this as a justification for lower pay.

      Objective measurement occurs when procedures exist that eliminate bias, such as when female orchestra members audition behind screens so no one can tell who is playing.

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    4. Or when, like, students taking online courses are told that they are taught by a man when they were really taught by a woman, and rate their instructor higher than students who were told there were taught by a woman when they were really taught by a man then rated their instructor lower.

      Which Bob quickly cast aside.

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    5. Earth to 4:01 and ul -- that was a joke. I didn't seriously mean that these two incompetent clowns (clownesses?) prove that women are less competent than men.

      6:06 You're exactly right about orchestras. Until fairly recently, women weren't hired in symphony orchestras, except as harpists. My cello teacher's husband was in the NY Philharmonic. She mentioned once that Leonard Bernstein had told her that she'd obviously be good enough to play in that orchestra if she were a man. Fortunately, that particular prejudice seems to have been killed. OTOH I still see very few female conductors.

      I would be interested in more details on the studies you refer to. Offhand, I can think of several areas where the sexes might not perform equally well.
      1. I have read that women take more sick days than men, on average.
      2. Jobs requiring physical strength put women at a disadvantage: E.g., law enforcement, firefighter, military, construction, trucking, warehouse work
      3. It's my impression that women may be less ambitious, on average. I think this might be objectively measured by comparing the percent of startup businesses.
      4. OTOH I suspect that women are likely superior to men in some work areas.

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    6. David, use your head. Women take sick days when their kids are sick. There are many men who cannot do jobs requiring physical strength either. Startups require access to funding. Did you know that a woman couldn't get a loan for a car or house without a cosigner until the 1970s? I really think you should have taken some gender studies classes instead of protesting them.

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    7. Anon 11:15PM -- I was discussing reasons why the average woman earns less than the average man. The fact that women take more sick days is a reason, regardless of the causes of this absenteeism. Physical strength is a difference on average, even though some men are weaker than some women. Lenders' prejudice against women 45 years ago was disgusting and wrong, but it's not why women start fewer businesses than men today.

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    8. Yes, David. It's all because we pay "physical strength" jobs like construction and ditch diggers more than we pay elementary school teachers.

      No problem there. Let's move along, shall we?

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    9. "Earth to 4:01 and ul - that was a joke."

      Earth to 4:01 and ul - that was a bad joke, especially in light of my 18th-Century worldview.

      FTFY - you're welcome.

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    10. As Dinky goes to the shed to get a binger shovel.

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    11. I think you meant "bigger" shovel. A "binger" shovel is the kind Bing Crosby used.

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    12. I thought the name of the shovel came from Dave Bing, who as a black man was disproportionately successful in basketball.

      Bing, BTW, is not to be confused with Bill Bradley, who overcame the horrid obstacle of whiteness to enjoy moderate success as a basketball player like Bing, but saw his political comeback hopes dashed by Al Gore who, as a person of middle Tennesse origin, was disproportionately successful in initiatives.

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  5. Grievance society. If you belong to a group that underperforms the average, it is everyone else's fault.

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    1. Yeah. If those damn Indians could have picked more cotton than black people we could have given them food, clothes and Jesus instead of genocide.

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    2. Heck of a bale of straw, 5:50 PM, your "underperforms the average" b*llsh*t.

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  6. "Here’s the problem: on Meet the Press, Maddow had insisted that the full 23 percent gap was caused by discrimination. She seemed to think that the 23 percent statistic was intended as a measure of same."

    Uh oh! Here's Bob Somerby's first problem. Rachel, Maddow never insisted that the full 23 % pay gap was caused by discrimination.

    Gack! Here's the second Somerby problem. Bob is so lazy and dumb (we liberals are, he often insists) that he foolishly uses the same words when he makes things up. Remember how many times he used "measure" in his discussion of free and reduced lunch eligibility and poverty? He is now slipping up and sticking the word "measure" into this discussion too.

    Wait a day or two. If he stays on the same topic we will see measure move from the category of "seems to think" it is a "measure" to a full blown somebody or generic liberals "keep saying the wage gap is a measure of discrimination." Or maybe he will surprise us and use "insisting" instead of "saying."

    Bob, honey. Read your own posts. Your repetitiveness is more than a style problem. It is often a dead giveaway that you are making things up.

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  7. I was enjoying a pleasant dream about college kids calling Nick Kristof names when the nightmare began. Bob Somerby, our national treasure
    had gone the way of all flesh. He was with us no more. Old friend All Gore announced his demise saying:

    "Beloved Blogger Bob Somerby was killed last night while taking the initiative to discover how much of the gender wage gap was caused by discrimination. He was close to unraveling this mystery when, in large part because of the bogus claims and gorilla dust thrown up by journalists, professors and “experts” over here in our camp, he slipped and fell over the edge."

    Gore went on to say he had read somewhere that Tommy Lee Jones told a Baltimore reporter he and Gore were classmates of Somerby in college. This implied Somerby would be missed.

    How large a part did bogus claims and liberal elite gorilla dust play in Somerby's demise? Some experts think it may be 25-50% of the cause, but others think they also found chimpanzee poop on the soles of his shoes. Chimps stream that stuff, wave it in the air, and it is really slippery.

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    1. Eff you, 12:46.

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    2. And yesterday, we had Ted Cruz comparing Netanyahu to Churchill.

      Do any of these neo-cons, including Somerby, realize how easy they are to ridicule?

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    3. Ironic too, since Ted Cruz himself is regularly compared to McCarthy by divisive pseudo-liberals. I haven't heard him call people Maoists and Stalinist lately.

      OK, he did seem to insist some dozen Harvard law faculty were Marxists who wanted to overthrow the country, but hey, they deserved the suggestion.

      You know the way out liberal professors talk!

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  8. Maddow chides Castellanos for his strange and opposing viewpoint "That women aren't getting paid less for equal work. I think that's a serious difference in factual understanding of the world...
    But given that some of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work, there is something called the Fair Pay Act."

    Maddow, or anyone else has never said anything of the sort?! And then to throw around the word "liar". Disgraceful.

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    1. When Castellanos attempted to cite factors involved in the 77 cents number Maddow would have none of it, "no"... "don't tell me what the reasons are". When Castellanos did edge in some factual evidence, citing a difference in longer hours worked, Maddow dismissed it with a childish "Listen, this is not a math is hard conversation."

      Maddow cited the 77 cent number, then argued aggressively that no rationale other than de facto discrimination was relevant in helping explain any part of it. The trickery of politics.



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    2. Eff you, 12:46.

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    3. Says @ 2:25

      "Maddow cited the 77 cent number, then argued aggressively that no rationale other than de facto discrimination was relevant in helping explain any part of it. The trickery of politics."

      Reality of the transcript shows:

      "Maddow cited the 77 cent number" then was immediately interrupted by Catellano before she could even say what the 77 cents represented. She then tried to get Castellano to say whether women were paid less than men. He refused to answer and the two engaged in a series of interruptions that make no sense to anyone.

      When some conversational order was restored she then said:

      "But it is important, I think, the interruption is important, I think, because now we know, at least from both of your perspectives, that women are not faring worse than men in the economy. That women aren't getting paid less for equal work. I think that's a serious difference in factual understanding of the world.

      But given that some of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work, there is something called the Fair Pay Act."

      Now, you can fill in the blanks with your imagination all you want, but nowhere do I find justification for your assertion she "then argued aggressively that no rationale other than de facto discrimination was relevant in helping explain any part of it."

      I will pose the same questions to you Maddow posed to Catellano.

      Do you believe women make less than men? Do you believe women are getting paid less than men for the same work?

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    4. Shorter 2:54 & 2:47 -

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    5. Thanks, Alex. Glad you are consistent.

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  9. Sorry, so angry the above was posted in the wrong place.

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  10. i think a big problem with prof hartman's arguement is stating that because some percentage of the gap can't be explained in the regression analyses, that it is "probably" due to discrimination. at the end of any regression equation there is a lower case e, which stands for error, which represents all variables not in the equation. regression analysis is inherently limited by human ability to think of all the variables that could possibly be at play. if we could think of all the variables and measure them, THEY WOULD ALREADY BE ACCOUNTED FOR IN THE EQUATION.

    discrimination may be part (or even all) of that little e in this case. but equally likely is that there is an unknown factor that no one has thought of that is responsible. People, HUMANS ARE JUST NOT SMART ENOUGH TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. No one, not professor hartman, nor the leading statistics professionals in the world, can say what is or is not included in that little e. I would argue that they can't even say what "probably" is in little e. they can guess but it is just that, a guess. may even be an educated guess, but in the end still opinion. so, to me, in my opinion, professor hartman was putting her thumb on the scale just a bit and sounded a little more certain than the numbers allow her to be. ultimately, little e is the portion of the wage gap that could potentially be related to discrimination or other factors not thought of or accounted for.

    i also think that the conversation between maddow/hartmann in general would be difficult to really understand unless you know what goes into regression analysis. Given the country's performance in science and math i would say that at least some portion of the audience would not have that requisite background to fully understand the nuaince in that discussion.

    and before anyone starts yelling at me, this is just my opinion, no need to get angry about it. and i am not a statistician either, but have taken enough graduate level statistics courses, including advanced regression analsysis, to be somewhat literate in the subject, but certainly not expert.

    and also for the record, i am a man and i would say share equally in child care and house work. I even took paternity leave from work to care for my new born son for a year, so i take a little offense to this discussion about women shouldering all the burden. i can't be the only man pitching in.

    also for the record, my wife earns more than i do and i couldn't be happier about it LOL.

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  11. The transcript shows that Maddow was referring to the same work. Thus, the troll denying she said such thing has been embarrassed. From the transcript, Maddow says " That women aren't getting paid less for equal work. I think that's a serious difference in factual understanding of the world."

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    1. I would like to engage in a discussion with you. So I'll start in a fashion similar to yours so you will understand.

      Thus, the idiot embarrasses himself by proving he can justify name calling by taking one sentence out of context from a transcript. That sentence does not show:

      a) "Maddow had insisted that the full 23 percent gap was caused by discrimination."

      b) "She seemed to think that the 23 percent statistic was intended as a measure of same."

      c) "She had repeatedly made the standard presentation, saying that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing “the exact same work.”

      These are the "repeated claims" and "standard presentation" of events by Bob Somerby insists Maddow said or thought which simply have no basis in reality.

      Did Maddow say women are getting paid less for the same work? Yes. After repeatedly being interrupted by Alex Castellano and having him in return refuse to answer questons based on points made in his interruptions, Maddow managed to get host David Gregory to intervene and have Castellano let her complete more than a phrase. This is what she then said:

      "But it is important, I think, the interruption is important, I think, because now we know, at least from both of your perspectives, that women are not faring worse than men in the economy. That women aren't getting paid less for equal work. I think that's a serious difference in factual understanding of the world.
      But given that some of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work, there is something called the Fair Pay Act."

      Now, I am going to ask you two questions similar to what Maddow posed to Castellano.

      Do you believe women make less than men? Do you believe women are getting paid less than men for the same work?

      If you are feeling frisky you might address why the Fair Pay Act was proposed, debated, adopted, and signed into law. If not, you can prove whether my name calling was justified by answering the two questions I posed which require only a simple yes or no.

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  12. Not only are women paid less for the same work, but any profession dominated by women is paid less. Examples: (1) pediatricians earn less than podiatrists, (2) elementary school teachers earn less than high school teachers, (3) psychology professors earn less than business professors. As a job category shifts from male to female, wages decrease. Biology lab jobs are an example or banking jobs.

    Obvious examples are that the highest paid female actors and athletes make less than their male counterparts.

    There are many explanations offered but the bottom line is that these are justifications for a situation that is just plain wrong.

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  13. That's a Strawman. It is the amount that is being disputed, Anonymous at 11:42.

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    1. It's just the amount of discrimination being disputed? As if a certain amount of discrimination is Okey-Dokey with you?

      OK, where is the line drawn between "enough" discrimination and "too much"?

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  14. I notice he's back with "Zimmerman was/wasn't told to stay in his vehicle".

    "We liberals". whatever.

    Please go away.

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