Interlude—Patricia Arquette swept away: Do women get paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing the same work?
As far we know, no specialist or expert actually makes that claim. But we liberals love the claim. We often repeat the claim. People end up assuming it’s true.
Presumably, that explains why Rachel Maddow stated this claim on Meet the Press in April 2012 (see yesterday's post). And who knows?
Ten days ago, Patricia Arquette may have had this claim in mind when she accepted her Oscar as last year’s Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
ARQUETTE (2/22/15): To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.What did Arquette have in mind when she complained about the lack of “wage equality?”
Frankly, we have no idea. The conversation didn’t get that far. But then, it rarely does.
In what ways, and to what degree, are women underpaid, as compared to men, in the labor market? We liberals rarely waste our time fleshing out such questions.
As we create a brave new world rivaling that of Rush and Sean, we seem to enjoy our tribal cries more than real information or actual facts.
Back in 2012, Maddow showed so much devotion to the cause that she went on the air the following night and claimed that she had no idea why her statement about the gender wage gap had been challenged.
That statement was very hard to believe. Meanwhile, an expert appeared with gorilla dust to help our tribe through this rough patch.
So it has gone as our liberal tribe has emerged from its decades of slumber! In a sad but comic display, we’re building a set of dystopian claims which we very much like to recite. No one else believes these claims, but they fuel our emerging tribal vision;
Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar! One in five (or one in four) undergraduate women will be raped during college!
In the past year, we’ve even started making this misery-worshipping claim:
A majority of public school students live below the poverty line!
Two of those claims are simply false; the other claim seems methodologically shaky and hard to credit. But we seem invested in such claims, especially when our gloomy claims involve matters of gender or race.
In the meantime, we can’t bring ourselves to tell the world that black kids are doing much, much better in reading and math. Or that Hispanic kids are doing much, much better too.
Alas! As we’ll note in Friday’s report, even our very brightest young liberals keep repeating the standard silly claims about our miserable pitiful schools. We just can't seem to get it together about such basic issues!
Beyond that, we aren’t real keen on analyzing the ways the public is getting looted—in the ludicrous costs of our health care, for instance. We’d rather repeat our bogus claim about that 77 cents.
Seventy-seven cents on the dollar! Is that what Arquette had in mind when she spoke from the Oscar stage? We assume Arquette is a good decent person, but we have no real idea.
As we build our own liberal discourse, our emerging discourse rarely gets past the kind of recitation in which we make gloomy statistical claims which no one else believes. And sometimes, even that’s not enough! Consider the tsunami which hit Arquette after the Oscar show, when she made a clumsy presentation backstage.
For whatever reason, Arquette chose to speak about wage equality at the Oscars.
She made a somewhat grandiose speech, stressing her contact with experts mad geniuses. Backstage, she continued discussing her basic topic:
ARQUETTE: Equal means equal. The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make. The more children—the highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households.To state the obvious, women should have wage equality—equal pay for equal work. As far as we know, no one argues against that.
It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t—one of those superior court justices said, two years ago, in a law speech at a university, we don’t have equal rights for women in America, and we don’t because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women.
So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues that are at play that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women, and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for, to fight for us now.
It’s also true that the income gap between women and men creates a problem in a society where many children live in female-headed households.
We don’t think we’ve ever seen that situation discussed in a serious way. Imaginably, it might be a great idea if someone actually did!
What kind of “wage equality” does Arquette want everyone to fight for? We saw no sign, in her two statements, that she had a clear idea in mind. In the end, it didn’t matter.
Her fuzzy call for wage equality was quickly drowned out by liberal reaction to the part of her backstage statement we’ve highlighted above. Arquette was widely pounded—and sometimes tendentiously paraphrased—for the things she said.
Can we talk? That part of Arquette’s statement was clumsy, or at least imperfect. Continuing the grandiosity which marked her earlier statement, she seemed to say that “all we women” have fought for gay people and for people of color, a claim which is hard to credit.
Beyond that, it almost sounded like she was saying that the fight for gay people and for people of color had been won—that somehow, it had “now” become the time to fight for equality for women.
That framework doesn’t exactly make sense. This wasn’t a perfect statement.
Arquette, of course, is a film and TV actress. You can’t expect her to be an expert on a topic like this.
Still and all, we liberals might look to our journalists and our professors for analyses which are smart and helpful. Frequently, we don’t receive that type of service, especially in the fraught but delicious areas concerning gender and race.
We love to talk about gender and race—and gender and race are very important. In the process, though, we sometimes forget to talk, or at least to talk clearly, about dollars and cents.
When we do that, the plutocrats cheer. They love it when we do that!
On balance, our professors and journalists are fairly well paid. Corporate looting of dollars and cents may not massively matter to them.
But if they’re going to talk about gender and race, could they at least do so in a sensible way? In a way which doesn’t make the rest of the polity think our tribe is nuts?
In yesterday’s post, we thought we caught Professor Hartmann throwing gorilla dust around. Tomorrow, we’ll look at several professors discussing matters of race.
We liberals tend to defer to our professors. We tend to assume our professors are sharp.
Arguably, we should stop doing that. Have our vaunted professors, Hartmann included, perhaps been letting us down?
Tomorrow: Professors on the prowl!