Do you believe what Maddow said?

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2012

How we liberals get made dumb and dumber: Do you believe what Rachel Maddow told you Monday night? (For background, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/3/12.)

According to Maddow, she had worked quite hard that day trying to solve a conundrum. On Sunday morning, she had a dispute on Meet the Press about the “wage gap” between men and women—more specifically, about the reasons for this gap.

According to Maddow, she had “spent a long time” trying to fathom why her claims were challenged on Sunday.

On Monday night’s Maddow Show, Maddow spoke with Dr. Heidi Hartmann, founder of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Here’s an early part of their discussion, with Maddow’s account of her intellectual labors in bold:
HARTMANN (4/30/12): 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.


MADDOW: In terms of just making it very clear, what you were talking about there about doing a statistical regression analysis on these things, controlling for other factors— I spent a long time going through the Republican side of this argument today just trying to understand how you could look at these very blunt numbers and come up with the opposite truth.
Can Maddow possibly be this dumb? Putting our question a second way:

Do you believe what Maddow said? Was Maddow being truthful?

According to Maddow, she had “spent a long time” trying to understand “the Republican side of this argument.” Presumably, so had her staff, including her blogger and caddy, Steve Benen.

(For Benen’s instant defense of his sovereign, click here. According to Benen’s first link, the gap seemed to be smaller in 2011: By the measure he cited, women were paid 82.2 percent as much as men that year.)

Rachel Maddow wracked her brain, trying to understand the other side’s puzzling position. But how odd! To judge from her performance that night, she was still perplexed by the pushback on Meet the Press, when Alex Castellanos objected to a very familiar claim. This was the start of the dispute which broke out Sunday morning:
MADDOW (4/29/12): All of our best debates are always about policy. And it should be about policy that affects women specifically.

The Romney campaign wants to talk about women and the economy. Women in this country still make 77 cents on the dollar for what men make. So if—

CASTELLANOS: Not exactly.

MADDOW: Women don’t make less than men?

CASTELLANOS: Actually, if you start looking at the numbers, Rachel, there are lots of reasons for that.
“Not exactly,” Castellanos said. He then said there were “lots of reasons” why women make less than men. (“Don't tell me what the reasons are,” Rachel comically said.)

In each remark, Castellanos was right. But 36 hours later, after great effort, Maddow was still unable to grasp “the Republican side of this argument.” This brings us back to our original question: Do you believe what she said?

For ourselves, we’re puzzled by what Maddow said Monday night. This is why:

As we noted on Tuesday, we had always wondered about the very familiar statistic Maddow cited on Meet the Press. Do women really make 77 percent as much as men for doing the same work? That familiar claim had always struck us as highly unlikely, for blindingly obvious reasons we won’t detail at this point.

That claim always struck us as unlikely, but we’d never researched it. Maybe we're better at "research" than Maddow. But on Tuesday, it took us about ten minutes to reach the basic facts of this case:

Guess what, people? No one claims that women are paid 77 percent as much as men for doing the same work! Indeed, if you can see through the gorilla dust, you can see Hartmann rejecting that claim in the exchange we have quoted. “Of course, these numbers from the Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination,” Hartmann said, thereby throwing Rachel's claim under a slow-moving bus.

Go ahead—just read what she said! According to Hartmann, that GAO study attributed 80 percent of the “pay gap” to factors other than discrimination. This means that the familiar figure Maddow cited was either wrong or grossly misleading.

But how strange! On Monday night, after oddles of effort, Maddow was still perplexed by “the Republican side of this argument.” That’s if you believe the things Maddow says, something we have learned not to do from watching her down through the years.

No, Virginia! The experts—even progressive experts—do not claim that women are underpaid by 23 cents on the dollar due to discrimination. The experts don’t claim anything like that, though Maddow still didn’t seem to grasp this fact after her long day of labor.

Let’s be clear: This doesn’t mean that women face no discrimination in terms of pay. It means that no one says it approaches the level Maddow described—no one but pseudo-liberal Hannity types.

To what extent are women underpaid “for doing the same work?” It’s very hard to answer that question. Consider Andrew Sherrill’s testimony about what he called “the gender pay gap in the federal work force.”

In April 2009, Dr. Sherrill testified before a congressional committee about a GAO report concerning the federal work force. He said the pay gap had shrunk considerably within that part of the workforce. But to understand the concepts involved here, consider what he said about the amount of the gap which may be due to discrimination:
SHERRILL (4/29/09): My statement today focuses on the following question: To what extent has the pay gap between men and women in the federal workforce changed over the past 20 years? And what factors account for the gap?

Using our cross-sectional analysis, we found that the pay gap, the difference between men and women's average pay before taking into account any explanatory factors, declined over the 20-year period. As you can see from our multi-colored chart here, the overall size of each of the three bars, the pay gap declined for 28 cents on the dollar in 1988 to 19 cents in 1998 and further to 11 cents in 2007.


In each of the three years we examined, our model cannot account for about seven cents of the pay gap. We cannot be sure what accounts for this portion, but it could be due to other factors which may be difficult to measure. It's important to note this analysis neither confirms nor refutes the presence of discriminatory practices.
From Sherrill’s remarks, we can draw two basic conceptual points:

As a general matter, only part of the “pay gap” between men and women will track to discrimination. And even when you’ve controlled for other factors, you still can’t be sure that the remaining gap is caused by discrimination. In the case of this report, the GAO couldn’t account for seven cents of the gap in pay between men and women in the federal workforce.

That seven cents could come from discrimination, Sherrill said—but you can’t be perfectly sure.

Are these concepts hard to grasp? Unless you’re someone like Maddow, they aren’t very hard at all. Applied to the wider question of the full work force, two facts should have been blindingly clear if Maddow made the slightest attempt to probe them on Monday:
Fact: According to the Census Bureau, women earned 77 percent as much as men in 2010. (This includes all full-time workers, defined as people who work at least 35 hours per week.)

Fact: This is not a measure of discrimination. When researchers control for relevant factors, a great deal of that gap disappears. (According to Hartmann, the GAO says that 20 percent of the pay gap persists. This would mean that women are being underpaid by as much as 4.6 cents on the dollar, not by 23 cents.)
By how much are women underpaid? It’s very hard to answer that question; there’s no easy way to tell. But whether we liberals like it or not, Republicans are largely in the right when they challenge the familiar claim that women are underpaid by 23 cents on the dollar.

Discriminated against by 23 cents? No one actually claims that is true—no one except brilliant children like Maddow, who says she studied this matter on Monday but still couldn’t see how it works.

Was Maddow trying to tell you the truth Monday night? How about her crackerjack staff? Let’s consider the way they stripped down that day's CNN fact-check.

Earlier Monday, Lisa Sylvester had fact-checked this matter for Wolf Blitzer. Her report was filled with gorilla dust, just as Hartmann’s segment with Maddow would be.

But as Sylvester finished, Blitzer did what an actual journalist should. He insisted that Sylvester address the central question: How much are women underpaid? Here’s what Sylvester said:
BLITZER (4/30/12): And so, the bottom line, though: When men and women have the exact same job, do women still only earn 77 cents on the dollar, if they're doing, working the same amount of hours, have the exact same job, in the exact same field?

SYLVESTER: They have— There is definitely a gap. It is, if you’re looking at. But there are all kinds of other control factors, you know, what college somebody went to, what region of the country. If you're talking salaried workers versus part-time workers, the average for full-time workers, the difference is pay is 77 cents on the dollar.

Now, as you go along, as you control for other factors, even if you control for everything you could possibly imagine, all those things, the college, the hours worked— Men still make more than women, that gap narrows, it's about 5 cents of a difference. But it still is there, it's still real, and the truth is, men make more than women.
Sylvester kept spreading gorilla dust, as she did throughout her report. But when confronted, she finally said it: When you control for relevant factors, the wage gap narrows to about five cents on the dollar.

Is that judgment right? We have no idea—but that’s what Sylvester said. Unless you watched that evening’s Maddow Show, in which that part of Sylvester’s report went straight down the memory hole.

Maddow played tape from Sylvester’s report; she just didn’t play the tape where Sylvester was forced to state this judgment. What did Maddow show you instead?

Below, you see the part of Monday night’s Maddow Show where Maddow used Sylvester’s report to mislead us rube liberals further. Question: Can Maddow really be this dumb? Or is she being dishonest?
MADDOW (4/30/12): Women make less money than men do. On average women, get paid 77 cents for every dollar that a man gets paid. That’s for everybody in the work force. If you look at the most popular jobs among men, it is the same thing. If you look at the most popular jobs among women, it is the same thing. There are a few outliers. You can cherry-pick, like you can with any statistical truth. But this is a really, really clear statistical truth.

(Beginning of videotape)

BLITZER: Here is a question: Do women in the United States make less money than men for doing the exact same work? On NBC`s Meet the Press yesterday, the Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos answered no. And that sparked a very passionate debate with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

We asked Lisa Sylvester to do a fact check for us. Lisa is here. Lisa, who’s right?

SYLVESTER: Well, this is a fascinating subject, Wolf, and we have been looking into this. We reached out, by the way, to Alex Castellanos but he was not available for comment.

The question: Is there an earnings gap between men and women? And the answer, according to the Census Bureau, is yes.

Data directly from the Census Bureau shows there is a pay gap and it’s real. Quote, “In 2010, the earnings of women who worked full-time year-round were 77 percent of that for men working full-time.”

(End of videotape)

MADDOW: Women get paid less than men do, 77 cents on the dollar on average. That’s true. Democrats know that’s true. It is the accepted truth by anybody who is looking at the facts of the matter. Republicans do not know that’s true.

This seems important. I finally see this now. And it’s important both in terms of the facts but also in terms of the politics. I think this is why this debate has been so talking past each other? So incoherent and dissatisfying?
Maddow played tape of Sylvester citing the 77 percent statistic. She didn’t play tape of Sylvester’s conclusion, where Sylvester said that women are only underpaid—discriminated against—by a factor of five percent.

Was Sylvester right in that judgment? We don’t know. But Maddow made it easy for liberal viewers. She simply didn’t let them know about the judgment Sylvester reached.

Maddow does this a lot. On Monday night, she kept citing that 77 percent statistic, telling her misled liberal viewers that it represents “the accepted truth by anybody who is looking at the facts of the matter.” She didn’t tell viewers that there are two different statistics they should consider:

The “pay gap” was 23 percent in 2010. But the part of the gap which represents discrimination was a great deal less.

For our money, Castellanos was more right than Maddow on Meet the Press, though his comments and explanations were a bit hazy. Beyond that, he did interrupt a fair amount—though for our money, we’re more concerned with scripted misstatements of fact than with etiquette concerns about the way such manifest bullshit gets challenged.

Beyond that, consider the way the two combatants reacted to Sunday’s battle:

Castellanos posted this piece at The Daily Caller. He apologized for interrupting Maddow; he said he truly does admire the passion she brings to her work. (“Maddow was offended when I complimented her on her passion. She found it condescending. I meant it as high praise and still do.”)

He continued to argue the facts of the case. He seemed to get some things right, seemed to misstate and overstate others.

How did Maddow react? She went on the air on Monday night, saying she still had no idea why someone would challenge her 77 percent statistic. Can Maddow really be that dumb? Do you believe what she said?

We have no ideas what makes Maddow tick—but this was an insulting performance. Maddow is sold as a former Rhodes Scholar. She said she had tried very hard to understand “the Republican position.”

We find that rather hard to believe. But this is a constant problem on the Maddow Show.

Maddow covers a lot of worthwhile topics—but you have to fact-check every word she says. When you do, the results are often bad.

With that in mind, here’s a question for liberals and emerging ditto-heads:

Do you believe the various things this self-adoring multimillionaire says?

What Hymowitz says: At the Daily Caller, Castellanos cited Kay Hymowitz, a leading conservative expert on these topics.

Castellanos seemed to overstate her position, in part because of a headline Hymowitz probably didn’t write. This is what Hymowitz told Sylvester this week. To watch their exchange, just click here:
HYMOWITZ: The studies that I’ve seen, when they control for everything that they can think of, and there may be other things they’re not thinking of, but when the control for all the kinds of things you mentioning, there still is something like a 5-7 percent wage gap. And what’s causing that? Could be discrimination, there could be other factors that we simply don’t know how to account for. But yeah, it’s a good guess that there’s some discrimination there.
It’s a good guess that there’s some discrimination there. It just isn’t 23 cents on the dollar—unless you want someone like Clueless Maddow to make you feel liberally good.

Hymowitz says the actual discrimination factor may come to 5-7 cents on the dollar. That’s quite close to what Hartmann said Monday night—if you cut through the gorilla dust which suffused her exchange with Maddow.

On Monday, Maddow worked quite hard. That night, though, dust filled the air.


  1. None of your examples of statements by Maddow indicate that she is claiming that the gap is entirely due to discrimination. She's speaking about the existence of a gap and referring to a study that the experts you quote also accept. You're sharply bending what she said in a way that runs against the track record of The Daily Howler before "your analysts" decided that every slip or not-even-slip by an msnbc personality was Public Enemy #1.

    1. I think you are being disingenuous here. After all, if the 23 cent gap is NOT due to discrimination, then why bring it up? It would be a little bit like saying "people who work 8 hours make more money than people who work 4 hours at the same job." and then being all outraged about that. "Workingmen to arms, to arms!!" (A sexist statement to be sure, but that's how August Spies actually wrote it in his paper.)

      The whole point of bringing up the 23 cent gap is to state it as a problem, and a problem that needs to be solved by some sort of policy. A policy that Republicans (and Democrats like me) would oppose, perhaps because we believe the gap is caused by reasons which are fair.

      But Rachel does not want to hear about the reasons. She does not care if the man is working 8 hours and the woman only 6. The existence of a pay gap is an OUTRAGE!! No matter what the reasons are.

      Let's not pretend that is not what she is talking about just because she did not specifically say "the 23 cent gap is due to discrimination." It is certainly true that many people seem to believe that gap IS due to discrimination. People like Rachel have lead the rubes to water knowing full well that they (we) would drink.

      The other part is that Castellano is being attacked as a liar and/or bigot for denying the 23 cent gap. Which is certainly a dishonest attack on somebody who is saying something like "so? That gap is because men are working 8 hours for every 6 a woman works and for many other reasons." Reasons which account for 80% of the gap.

      And who knows if that other 20% might be closed by reasons we have not thought of yet? Reasons we won't think of because we quickly use Occam's ideological razor to jump to the simplest tribal explanation.

    2. "Reasons which account for 80% of the gap."

      Nope, and this is how Somerby is guilty of the very thing he condemns others for --- following his script ("Maddow is dumb and always wrong") even if it means misinforming his flock of sheep.

      "Those reasons" drop the gap from 23 percent to 20 percent. The report never said that all but 20 percent is explained by "those reasons."

      In other words, it accounts for about 15 percent of the gap, not 80 percent.

      But of course, this would be lost on those who think "The Daily Howler" is the fifth Gospel.

    3. Innumeracy at play. But then, true believers have always had problems with math.

    4. Uh, no, it wasn't Somerby who said only 20% of the gap remained - it was Hartmann. Somerby is only guilty in this case of trusting Hartmann, the person Rachel had on as an expert. She said "you can’t explain at least 20 percent of it"

      "IT" being the gap, which was, according to Hartmann, 80% explainable.

      BTW, the "gap" in that GAO study, was 44 cents, not 23 cents. So 47.7% of it was explained.

      There seem to be far fewer believing in the infallibility of Somerby, than there are fawning over Rachel.

    5. It doesn't mattter who is at fault, the misinformation about GAO's estimate is stitting on Bob's webpage. He has a resonsibilty to post a correction.

    6. Sommerby has his own expert problem in this post. He uses Kay Hymowitz to support his low balling of the wage gap. Turns out she has no background in economics or statistics but she is the Manhattan Institute's expert on culture wars.

  2. I only got halfway through this long post, but I already have some questions. First, I am surprised that there is ANY pay gap in the federal workforce. That is, I am certain that a GS-7 mathematician (a job I once held) is paid EXACTLY the same whether that person is a woman or a man. There should not even be a pay gap of a nickel, much less a nickel per dollar.

    Now, if you look at the whole workforce and say that most of their female mathematicians are GS-7s whereas most of the males are GS-11s, that might be seen as some sort of discrimination in PROMOTIONS, but not discrimination in pay. Those are two different things, even if they lead to the same eventual result. Different though, because a GS-7 mathematician is not doing the SAME job as a GS-11 mathematician. Even if they are in the same department.

    Curiously though, I did get hired with another guy and we sort of had the same job, even though my title was mathematician and his was computer programmer. We were partners, as it were, hired at the same time - to do computer programming. Yet I was paid GS-7 and he was paid GS-5. I was paid more, even though he knew more, much more, about computer programming, AND I had, in my mind, agreed to take a GS-5 job, even though my grades made me well qualified (by the scoring of their HR department) for a GS-7 position.

    I assumed, although I never asked (why would I?) that my higher pay was due to my higher GPA. We were both white males, but it would not be considered sex discrimination if a man with a higher GPA was paid more than a woman in the same job, would it?

    Anyway, I would love to get my hands on their hard data, because a pay gap of 7% in the federal work force really boggles my mind.

    Just a few other notes though. First, there is, or was, performance money given at the end of the year. That was based on some supervisor's judgment of performance. So that would give two GS-7s slightly different total pay. But how could one determine if the performance evaluation was biased with regard to gender? Second, there are, I remember now, regional differences in pay. A GS-7 in Boston makes more money than a GS-7 in Layton, Utah even if they are doing the exact same job in the same department. Again, though, adjusting for cost of living does not seem discriminatory to me.

    Finally, my dad sorta related how he pushed for more responsibilities and higher pay (in the USGS) and eventually ended up supervising people who had more education than him. He ended up a GM-13 while another guy with a master's degree was only a GS-9. But if you compared the two on paper with just things like years of experience, education and performance evaluations, it might look somehow "unfair" for my dad to be paid so much more than Bud (his real name AFAIK). Still, in the final analysis, I don't see how a GM-13 and a GS-9 could be said to be doing the same job, even if they both work in the same office.

    My own post now is quite long, and perhaps loaded with gorilla dust, but I am just astounded that there would be a 7% gender pay gap in the Federal work force. So astounded that I don't believe it until I see the evidence myself - the hard data. I don't trust the testimony of experts when they tell me something which seems impossible. Heck, I did not trust myself when I did a problem in quantum physics and got an answer of ten to the minus 217. If the answer does not make any sense, somebody must have made an error in their calculations. At least I want to check their math.

    Because, another point, that I think most agree on, is that some people are ideologically disposed to reach particular conclusions.

    1. You only read half the post before writing an equally long, tedious-looking comment. (I only read the first few sentences of your manifesto.)

    2. I believe the correct term is "TL;DR" (too long, didn't read).

  3. "Pseudo-liberal Hannity types"? Oh god, I need a glossary to keep up.

    But wait, I see that at the biennial 2010 Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop in Dayton, Ohio, one of the featured speakers was Gail Collins. Her presentation was called "What I learned from Erma." Recording available for $12 cheap.

    A keeper of the flames of Tom Wicker and Scotty Reston informed by the author of "The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank"?

    Hmm. Perhaps this is a clue as to what is meant by "pseudo-columnist."

    1. Okay, that one hit a little close to home. I probably got most of my political education from Art Buchwald. I also enjoyed Erma Bombeck, who I was compared to by my high school creative writing teacher.

      I did read Wicker's book "Time enough to die" but otherwise have never heard of those other two.

      Still, nothing wrong with a little humor in an essay, is there?

  4. Maddow is an embarrassing village idiot- as a physician I learned a long time ago 'Rhodes scholar' does not mean 'critical thinker' which Maddow is not. I'm liberal, saw the exchange, and was embarrassed at how right Castellanos was- the '77 cents for every dollar a male makes' has always been riddled with over-simplifications about the number of hours worked, types of jobs, and flexibility women (usually with families) want from the workplace men don't do and as a result men end up overall making more money. For years I've heard this tripe repeated endlessly as if in 2012 rampant pay discrimination of this order could happen without the legal profession being all over it- are you kidding? Where's the class action lawsuit? And there was no question she tied it to discrimination and wasn't interested in any other explanation- her statement that she didn't care what the reasons were damned any further thing she had to say. And acting 'obtuse' about the reasons just make her look more stupid in front of a national audience with the rolling eyes and theatrics. A pretend pundit is indignant over a percentage (most of which are meaningless without context anyway) and demands an explanation and and then sticks her fingers in her ears to say, 'nah nah, nah, I can't hear you' is stunning as political discourse and more than embarrassing- her paycheck won't show it though. I've made this observation (about pay differences at least among professionals) with my dermatologist wife and she's in complete agreement. If you don't want partnership, don't want to work extra call hours or weekends, and want an open free schedule for home activities you don't make as much money. Duh.

    1. "as a physician I learned a long time ago"

      Well, aren't we special? As a piano tuner, I learned a long time ago that people who claim credentials on an Internet board seldom have them.

      In other words, don't tell us you are intelligent. Show us.

    2. "In other words, don't tell us you are intelligent. Show us."

      He *did* "show us". Correctly characterized what happened, gave examples why, etc.

      Maddow plays her audience for fools.

    3. Yep, she sure does. And thanks to Bob for describing Benen as her "caddy" . . . perfect.

    4. "Where's the class action lawsuit?"
      Um, what?

    5. Thank you, Brian. Boy, I bet 12:33 sure feels foolish defending a guy who really didn't know what he babbling about.

      Oh, I forgot. He's a physician. And his wife is a dermatologist.

    6. " I bet 12:33 sure feels foolish defending a guy who really didn't know what he babbling about."

      Correctly characterized what happened, gave examples why, etc.

    7. ""

      Wasn't a class action suit, and the plaintiff lost.

  5. Somerby makes a good case that Maddow has her facts wrong, but it's not a good enough case to warrant the ad hominem harshness in this blog post.

    1. You want to see narrative? Look for Somerby's review of "Drift."

      Won't find it because it doesn't fit the script he's written about Maddow, the dumb, female Rhodes Scholar who is paid millions to be stupid.

    2. Not to "be" stupid but to ACT stupid. There's a reason for that, of course: if you want to appeal to stupid, tribal people, you've got to behave that way yourself. If you can't pick this up from Somerby's work....

    3. No, I can't pick this up from Somberby's work, especially over the last several years when he turned himself into a pretzel trying to claim Bush didn't lie in the State of the Union speech when Bush said that Iraq was trying to get enriched uranium from Africa.

      At one time, the Daily Howler was a must-read as it outlined how narrative increasingly defines candidates and campaigns, and how easy it was for certain candidates to get their narrative into print and broadcast once the narrative was cast.

      He also had lots of good things to say about the incestuous relationships between certain members of the Beltway press and politicians and public officials.

      But now he's veered off into "All MSNBC/New York Times All the Time" and he's written his own narrative that he won't budge from.

      Rachel Maddow is far from stupid. Yeah, she is flip some of the time, but she is producing five full hours of programming a week. She isn't just working that one hour she is in front of the camera.

      Maddow has also produced some important work, such as her recent report on the proliferation of nuclear materials as an unintended result of Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program. And as Greg noted, she has also written a very important book about the ease with which any U.S. president can lead us into war, in stark contrast to the division of powers established in the Constitution, and how easily a willing public has accepted that.

      So what is Somerby doing about that? Nothing. Except to misreport, as a reader below notes, that the GAO said the gap in women's earnings was percent of 23 percent accounting for differences in work patterns.

      It's not. When those patterns are noted, the drop is 3 percent, from 23 percent to 20 percent, not 20 percent of 23 percent.

      In short, differences in work patterns account for about 15 percent of the gap in earnings between men and women.

    4. actually, no, according to the GAO report, the "drop" was from 44% to 21%. Which is a drop of over 50%. Other studies have perhaps produced other gaps/drops.

      Stiil, I would claim that simply comparing one median to another, which is where the 23% and many other stories of the gap get their measure of said gap, is likely to be comparing apples to potatoes. It includes a lot of unknown factors and just assumes that medians will wash all those out.

    5. Actually, you are both wrong. The GAO finds that in its multi-year sample, women made 44% of what men made in terms of the raw data - a 56% gap. (Remember their sample runs back into the early 80's.) So the drop was from 56% to 21% after they did their anaysis, or about a 63% drop. But again, this is measured over a very long period of time.

  6. Ryan in Las VegasMay 4, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Is anyone else confused by exactly how the 77 cents on the dollar statistic is calculated? Is it computing the total salary of all working women versus the total salary of all working men, and averaging it out? Does it include all men and women, regardless of whether they are employed? If the post by Castellonos is correct, the statistic does not seem to take account of hours worked - but what does it take account of?

    I'm also not certain that "discrimination" can be written off quite as easily as some of these sources claim. The argument seems to be that "discrimination" generally does not exist because women (when they do the same work for the same number of hours) generally make as much as their male peers. The pay gap, thus, is because men are working more hours and at different, higher-paying jobs. But why is this? Couldn't it be because women are unfairly denied the opportunity to work more hours, or access to these higher paying jobs?

    1. Discrimination seems to be very narrowly defined in this discussion. When women typically perform the lion's share of the housework and child care in a household, in addition to their paid employment, is it right to assume they are working part-time or fewer hours or are being less energetic in pursuing more responsibility and promotions because of choice instead of because of their designated social position as women in our society? When women choose to become primary care physicians instead of surgeons is it because they prefer such jobs or is it because of the extreme hazing that occurs in surgery residencies (well-documented). When women become copywriters instead of account managers in an ad agency, is it because they like writing better or is it because their families won't allow them to spend evenings schmoozing clients or traveling to give presentations? When women become English teachers instead of coaches (who get paid extra for doing the coaching in addition to teaching a subject), is it because they love literature or because they didn't have the same access to sports in college and thus couldn't acquire the skills to coach a team? I don't think it is helpful to relegate discrimination only to that undefinable remainder after regression has been used to control for part-time work, years on the job, level of education and other factors -- these other factors are all affected by the differences men and women encounter in living their lives. So, yes, women earn 77 cents on the dollar because they are women, not because they want to do less work because they just don't have the same drive as men do. Our society is not constructed to produce equal opportunities for women and men and the pay reflects those inequalities. Theorists call these structural causes institutional discrimination. Defining discrimination as only individual personal bias is a gross misunderstanding of this statistic. That is what Rachel Maddow understands that Bob does not. He needs to take a Women's Studies course, but probably won't. Generally when someone bends over backwards to split a hair like this, there is a motive involved.

  7. Hymowitz said: And what’s causing [the 5% - 7% wage gap]? Could be discrimination, there could be other factors that we simply don’t know how to account for.
    Yes, indeed. The wage gap could be fully caused by factors other than discrimination.

    Automatically assigning anything unknown to "discrimination" reminds me of the Gnomes' business plan on South Park, which said:

    1.Collect Underpants
    2. ?

    Maddow's analysis says:

    1. Find difference
    2. Not sure what causes it.
    3. Discrimination.

    1. "reminds me of the Gnomes' business plan on South Park,"

      There was an additional part to this of note. When the kids asked about "Phase 2", the Gnomes gave an incredulous look and simply *repeated*:

      Phase 1: Collect Underpants
      Phase 2: ?
      Phase 3: Profit

  8. Bob, you should check the source (it's available on line) before you claim that the "GAO says that 20 percent of the pay gap persists. This would mean that women are being underpaid by as much as 4.6 cents on the dollar, not by 23 cents." GAO doesn't say this. It says:
    "When we account for differences between male and female work patterns as well as other key factors, women earned, on average, 80 percent of what men earned in 2000." So the GAO difference is 20 cents rather than Maddow's 23 cents (GAO-12-10, p.2) But GAO warns, as you do, against attributing all of this difference to discrimination.

  9. Sorry, the GAO citation should have been GAO-04-35

  10. Bob, you're full of shit on this one.

  11. It's truly mind-bogglingly how statistically illiterate some of the commenters here are. Wow.

    I'm laughing and crying at the same time.

  12. This is the part of Castellanos's piece that really caught my eye:

    "'So who is right? It shouldn’t be hard to tell if there is a broad pattern of wage discrimination against women in the workplace: All we have to do is compare the earnings of never-married women to those of never-married men. If there is discrimination based on gender, single women should make less. What are the numbers when we take marriage out of the equation?

    ● 'Today, among men and women living alone from the age of 21-35, there is no wage gap.'

    ● 'Among college-educated men and women between 40 and 64 who have never married, men made an average of $40,000 a year and women made an average of $47,000!'”

    Wow. If that's really true and not right-wing BS, it completely blows any pretense of pay-gap gender discrimination victimization totally out of the water.

    Amazing how this claim appears not to have been mentioned by Maddow despite all her self-proclaimed efforts to understand where the so-called pay gap's critics are coming from. Gee, you'd figure Castellanos would be the first person she'd go to.

    I've been watching these righteous b-people for years and have come to the conclusion that it is virtually impossible to conceive a claim of female victimization absurd enough to be disbelieved. There was the claim that domestic violence against women spiked 40% on Super Bowl Sunday because us guys were so into the game that we just couldn't contain our natural impulses to brutalize women. That turned out to be a bunch of Shinola.

    Then there was the conviction that porn leads to not just rape but the literal murder of women for entertainment when feminists embraced the snuff film hysteria.

    And, of course, feminists back in the late 80s and early 90s fomented a literally, no-effing-foolling witch hunt:

    You know why feminists are considered to be strident, man-hating, eternally-victimized hysterics? It's because they're victims of a patriarchal smear campaign!

    1. Marriage benefits men more than women on a variety of measures. Who are men who never marry and why might they do more poorly at work than men who marry? This is not a valid comparison.

    2. Go to google (or any search engine) and type in the terms: marriage benefits men women. See what you get. Then call me an imbecile again.

    3. Allow me to clarify my remarks, Anonymous. It's your job to substantiate your own argument, not mine. Apparently you think that I'm supposed to do all the work to prove how wrong I supposedly am while you piously sit around with your thumb in an undisclosed location. That is 1)not how it works and 2) was the reason I originally called you an imbecile; something that should have been obvious to anyone with half-decent reading comprehension.

  13. Comparing men and women doing "the same job" or even the same work does not necessarily isolate discrimination. If essentially all CEO's are men and women are only allowed to be secretaries there can be enormous discrimination, but the pay for doing the same job (if they can find any female CEO's or male secretaries) may be nearly the same. Note also that a job title does not necessarily accurately describe the work; subordinates often do the real work of powerful people.

    The overall 23% number may be more representative of actual functional discrimination than "same job" numbers.


    2. Of course, we can't listen to Sandberg. She's a successful COO. To find out what really flies in the business world you have to ask a women's studies professor.

  14. Bob,

    Bob, you say that Kay Hymowitz as 'a leading conservative expert on these topics.' Did you do any checking before you made this claim? Hymowitz herself claims expertise in education policy, childhood developent and and culture wars(!)on the Manhattan Institite webpage. Nothing about wages,employment or discrimination. On her own webpage, she lists two publications on the wage gap: an oped in the Wall Street Journal and a somewhat longer article in the City Journal. That's it! She's done nothing else even remotely related to this topic. Worse still - There is nothing in her educational background(an English MA)or her writings to suggest that she knows enough (or any)stats and economic to begin to understand the studies that you claim she's an expert on.

    Why did you do that? You can't say it's the consrvatives that say she's an expert; you were writing in your own voice. I know she supports your claim the the wage gap is rather small but that should not be, in my view, a valid reason by itself to include her in your post, much less call her an expert.

  15. In short:

    Maddow tries hard to pretend gross average pay differences are due to discrimination, "doesn't want to hear" why they mostly aren't, and then deep-sixes the part of her own expert's analysis that shows that.

    Somerby points this out.

    Therefore Somerby is a time-waster, probably a sexist, and almost surely a right-winger in disguise.



    1. Bob's evidence for they 'mostly aren't': a misrepresentation of a GAO report's findings, the findings of another GAO report on the federal workforce - a workforce that is very different from the populatio at large and the opinion of some unqualified person that he decides to call an expert. All he's got left is a CNN fact checker. Let's see how that works out for him.

    2. What is really interesting is how Bob reseached his big find that pay differences aren't mostly due to discrimination: he watched some TV and (it looks like maybe) something on youtube. This may be ok for a media critic - although still a bit lazy - but it's very bad policy analysis. Usually Bob knows his limitations and stays away from all the substantive stuff - except on education where he does know something. This time he didn't stay away and he made a mess. I hope he has the integrity to clean it up.

  16. This site has become a fascinating, if dispiriting, illustration of what happens when "liberalism" is a strictly attitudinal conceit, based in neither knowledge nor analysis, but primitive allegiances (Clinton/Gore Good!; MSNBC bad!). Bob says he's a liberal, so he must be one, but his approach is nonetheless strange. There are, for example, an endless number of ways MSNBC programming could be attacked from the left. But Bob never takes those routes, evidently because he's not informed of them; it's so much easier to simply repeat the arguments heard on the right.

    *Are* women discriminated against in the workplace, in indefensible ways and if so, to what extent? You'll never find out here, because the far-left position, in Bob's model, is Rachel Maddow's. Better informed and reputable sources who actually study the matter and take the conventional lefty view (wage discrimination is present and significant) simply won't be heard from here, because Bob doesn't know of them and has no interest in establishing that (for example) Maddow is right, however defective her arguments.

    No, Bob demands that because Maddow's methods are sloppy, and because she tells stupid jokes, she must be wrong and a terrible person, to boot! Sort of the definition of ad hominen, no?

    And is "tribalism", if not indifference to the actual facts?

    1. "Better informed and reputable sources who actually study the matter and take the conventional lefty view (wage discrimination is present and significant) simply won't be heard from here, "

      What would be the best examples of these sources? Thank you.

    2. "You'll never find out here, because the far-left position, in Bob's model is Rachel Maddow's"

      Your straw-man.

      Bob doesn't say (or even imply unless you are severely comprehension-challenged) that Maddow represents the "far left."

      So if you don't like the question "Is Maddow a clown" you just change it to "Is there a more-left position one can take?"

      Good plan.

      But Maddow's fail remains writ large.

  17. Even as I have (rightfully) disparaged The Daily Howler for ignoring Rachel Maddow's worthwhile and possibly important new book, I think he is right on here. And it goes to heart of why people hate politics and bull and the bull slinging entertainers like Maddow.

    Thing is, anyone possessing a rudimentary sense of "how to lie with statistics"
    would smell her claim's dubious suggestions a mile away. And if you're a male trying to survive in the current job market you might well be offended and quite possibly with good reason. But Maddow is selling identity politics, and it's help make her a millionaire.

    A poster on the last link claimed that his wife was receiving downgraded pay based on her sex. The reasons sounded a little too off the shelf purpose, but I'm certainly willing to entertain the idea that these things occur. Maybe often. I am also open to the concept that The Courts have made it too difficult for women to seek redress in such instances.

    But the average bottom level worker in the U.S. makes the same lousy wage in
    this Country no matter what sex they are. When you go, say, to Barnes and Noble, one of the big companies which has JUST cancelled benefits for it's part time workers, tut your book back on the shelf. That nice looking middle aged man makes about 9.00 bucks an hour.
    Does Maddows fanciful stats put a wedge between the sex of workers at such a pay scale? She couldn't care less. Redress of real economic inequality is hardly her concern.

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