By Greg Drobny, aka RU Twisted
I like to check the Huffington Post every day for the same reasons I check Fox News and MSNBC—to remind myself of just how blatantly awful mainstream news truly is. And seeing as how President Obama declared a day as “Equal Pay Day” (does it matter which day?) I figured this is a relevant topic.
Yesterday’s banner headline on HuffPo read “No, The Gender Pay Gap Isn’t A Myth — And Here’s Why.” So, being the fascinated-by-economic-ignorance-guy that I am, I clicked it and proceeded to read an article that fundamentally doesn’t understand what it’s talking about.
This should be surprising to no one who reads HuffPo, which is evidenced by the fact that most of the comments I read on their site usually call them out for their blatant propaganda.
But in true Unapologetically American fashion, I figured it was worth taking a look at what they had to say and basically offering a sound, thorough, academic-styled critique of their work have a few laughs at their expense. Because let’s be honest, it’s the HuffPo—not exactly a bastion of deep thought.
The article begins by showing how many of those meanie pants in journalism have claimed the gender pay gap is a myth. But, they say, that’s a crappy thing to do because only big poopoo faces tell people they are wrong. Jerks.
They begin making their case by stating that dismissing a pay gap because of “life choices” is an “absurd oversimplification” and state that “Sure, many women choose to stay home or cut back their hours after having children. But many others don’t opt out. They’re forced out because they cannot afford child care, or find a full-time job that affords them any kind of flexibility.” [Emphasis in the original because they mean it].
So, instead of coming up with some rational means of explaining data, they instead chose to appropriate terminology they don’t understand and use it for situations that don’t really apply. Consider the following:
Are any of us forced to work or do we opt into it? Well, gee, it depends on perspective, doesn’t it? I could easily say no one forces me to work—but the funny thing is that I will starve to death short of charity. So a circumstance (or a set of innumerable circumstances) has compelled me one way or another into a certain situation—in this case, I’d rather work and be productive than rely on charity.
To further complicate this analysis, the HuffPo authors, in staying true to their usual shallow-thought form, give an example that begins in the middle of the story. A woman was “forced out because they cannot afford child care,” remember?
Just a question: who, umm, forced you to have the child? Did someone hold a gun to your head and threaten you with jail time if you did not make a little human who needs constant care?
Their “investigation” breaks down even further by adding that this poor hypothetical woman can’t find a full time job “that affords them any kind of flexibility.”
In the interest of true equality…can I find one of those?
The point being, am I as a man any more capable of finding a full time job that affords the flexibility needed to raise kids and work? Do I have some special Man Card that allows me special access into jobs where that can happen for me but not for women?
In a word, no. So to label this as part of a “gap” is more than slightly disingenuous. The implication, of course, is that women are supposedly expected to stay home and raise the kids while the man goes off to work.
Who expects this? Well society of course! They even prove it in the article by citing the fact that 30% of Americans believe that moms should stay home full time to care for the kids. Egad!
(Wait, doesn’t that mean 70% of Americans, uhh…don’t believe moms should stay home full time…?)
Hush up, you! Take your ugly math elsewhere!
I’d also like to take a quick moment to point out that in our small but annoyingly talented writer’s group, we have three men (myself included) who stay home with little kids while their wives work. Put that in your statistical pipe and smoke it, HuffPo!
The article goes on to make a bunch of similar errors in its attempt to spin an already-held narrative that unfortunately isn’t going away any time soon. What I find interesting in these discussions is always what’s missing rather than what’s there.
To put it bluntly, nearly everything important to the topic is left out almost entirely.
Did you know, for example, that there are numerous industries in which women out-earn men? Were you aware that when groups of men and women are compared who all work less than 40 hours a week, the women earn more than the men? Or how about the fact that among never-married, college educated people, women make more and have been doing so for decades?
To get really crazy, here’s another one for you: lesbian women out-earn straight women. What should we do about that??
If we expand our searches in this field we can find a whole slew of examples that don’t line up with the gender pay gap narrative (the fact that men take way, way more dangerous jobs in general, for example). But instead of offering a long list of data points, how about we close this out with just a couple logic-based thoughts.
First, if I were a businessman—consumed by greed, as portrayed by many who argue this same gender pay gap ideology—and it is possible to get away with paying women substantially less for doing the exact same job as a man, why in the hop-scotchity hell would I ever hire men at all? From a profit-seeking perspective, it seems really silly to employ anyone but women, if this were the case. In fact, it has me wondering why any men in this country are employed at all.
Second, you can’t look at wildly general terms like “jobs” and use them for comparing half the population to the other and expect to learn anything valuable—other than coming away with the realization that “jobs” are not homogenous. There are wildly varying things that people in this country do to earn money. Some of it works really well and some of it doesn’t. What’s more is that what worked 20 years ago may not work very well today and vice versa.
HuffPo once again failed to consider all of this because, well, it’s HuffPo. Their job is to sell you a product—not make you think harder.