Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Most Hilarious Cadillac Ad

This one.

It tells us why Murkans don't want a month's vacation, like people in other similar countries have.  It tells us why it's OK to forgo seeing your family for 24/7work.

It's because only in Murka can you afford to buy the Cadillac that is advertized!  Well, you also get to have a fantastic house and pool and so on.  But what really drives you in this system is the Cadillac.  That's what life is for all Murkans...

I enjoyed watching the ad.  It's so very upside-down.  You lose two weeks of vacation in August and what do you get for that?  Lots of money and a Cadillac.  A good deal, eh?  A deal we have all made?

Duh.  The ad doesn't say anything at all about those other Murkans, the majority,  the ones who don't earn very much, the ones who struggle to keep their jobs in these shitty labor markets (imagine asking for more time off!).   Those Murkans, too, lose their vacations (compared to other countries) and get very little in return.  Just have a look at the income inequality data. 

And I get that Cadillac talks to the top earners.  But this is the first time I have seen a justification of the problems in the US labor market benefits from the angle that it can be defended by what the winners might feel. 

It's not clear if the man in the ad is a worker or a capitalist.  If he is the latter, of course he would be opposed to giving all workers federally decreed annual vacations.  In either case, the ad is an ode to income inequality and savage labor markets.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Some Valentine Day Poetry

Emily Dickinson:

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,--
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

Dorothy Parker:

A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet -
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

Add your own favorites in the comments.

Twisted Valentines

Send this to all those who stay up late at night, staring into the ceiling because of the fear of false rape accusations.

The Valentines Janet Yellen (the first female head of the Federal Reserve) got.  These are wonky ones.

Pickup Artists do not send Valentines for the same reason I don't send Valentines to a plate of food in front of me.  Or perhaps for the reason that one side in a war doesn't send Valentines to the other side.  This is very sad.

Are those who sell the weapons used in Syria and elsewhere sending Valentines to violence?  The way arms are traded and the way they are later used should make lots of people stay awake at night, and not because of the great business deals.

Tom Perkins loves dollars.    He wants every dollar to have one vote in politics!  We are almost there, of course, given the way American politics are financed.

Internet trolling might be just about loving the pain of others.  (Pedant rears her head:  The study suffers from selection bias, however).   But I do love those who do the nasty work of moderating comments.  That protects us from some of the most twisted hate messages.

Is that twisted enough for you?  Now I feel guilty for trying to mess up this wonderful day of sugary sweet love and friendship.

Roses are read
Violets are blue
After all I have said
I do love you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How To Increase The Audience For Women's Sports? Show More Booty?

One answer seems to be this:  Sell female athletes as sexy bodies.  Whether the extra audience thus captured is the audience that female athletes would prefer to have for their events is a very different question.

I came across a website, before the Sochi Winter Olympic games began, where several of the Russian female athletes were portrayed in skimpy lingerieA few of the strongest examples:

Shortage of Pilots? writes about the pilot shortage as an airline industry fairy tale, and Atrios concurs.

I also do.  The industry may have a shortage of pilots who are willing to work for chicken feed*, but that is not how economic theory defines a labor shortage.  Ask yourself whether we might have a "shortage" of CEOs if the wages offered for that job equaled $35,100 p.a., then ask yourself what you'd expect to happen if there weren't "enough" CEOs at that annual salary: 

Like auto manufacturers, U.S. airlines operate in a two-tier labor market where some people get paid quite well and many others are paid much less. The relatively lucrative long-haul flights are run by the major airlines. Local flights are outsourced to regional operators, which try to keep costs low by paying workers as little as possible. According to the Wall Street Journal, a co-pilot at a regional carrier with five years of experience gets paid about $35,100 in base salary, while a co-pilot at a major carrier with the same experience gets $101,900 in base salary.
Although many commercial airline pilots get their experience and training in the military, those who don’t have to pay as much as $100,000 to get the required education and flying time -- an investment that can't be justified when the wages for new workers are so low. This helps explain why the average age of active airline transport pilots has increased to 49.9 in 2012 from 47 in 2003. Ticket prices have increased, but mostly in response to the rising cost of fuel. If airlines want to replace their aging corps of experienced pilots and continue serving second- and third-tier cities, they are going to need to boost pay and raise ticket prices. Alternatively, they should ditch unprofitable routes. At least that strategy doesn't require making up stories about pilot shortages.
The "skill gaps" argument about what's wrong with some US labor markets turns out to be something similar:  Employers complain not about a shortage of skilled workers as such, but about the shortage of such workers at whatever  wages the employers would prefer to pay.

A different question altogether is whether the simple market models are sufficient to explain what might be happening in various labor markets.  Take the market for teachers.  Because the public sector is a major employer of teachers and because the incentives of the government are not the same as those of profit-focused firms, the simple market models of labor markets (supply and demand as the two blades of scissors)  may not be the best analytical tools for explaining what the average salaries of teachers are.

Yet I've read conservative commentary arguing that the salaries of teachers are fair because the free-market-god decreed them.  Indeed, even pretty clearly noncompetitive labor markets are regarded as somehow automatically fair because they are called markets.

*When compared to the training costs for the job and to the alternative jobs offering the same earnings levels without similar training costs.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What To Read Today On Women

1.  I recommend  the hashtag #BlackFemStory.  It's full of information about the history of black women and about the past achievements of individual black women.

2.  Yet another study finds mammograms of more limited value than we all would wish.

3.  A new survey on ending "Mad Men"-era workplace policies has been conducted.  I haven't checked the survey for leading or biased questions which means that I cannot judge its results.  But within the framework of that survey, I found it fascinating to check which groups don't support more "family-friendly" policies and which do:
Fresh on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union call for an end to outdated “Mad Men”-era workplace policies, a newly released poll shows that a majority of American voters support “family friendly” policies like an increased minimum wage, fair pay for men and women, affordable child care, paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters, commissioned by American Women, the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Rockefeller Family Fund, found that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed supported such family policies, including majorities of men and women, majorities of whites, African Americans and Hispanic voters, majorities of young and old voters and majorities of voters in different regions of the country.
Nearly 90 percent of Democrats, who tend to believe that government should play a role in solving social issues, were in support of the family friendly policies, as were 54 percent of Independents.
Nearly half, 46 percent, of Republican voters surveyed likewise signaled support. Among Republicans, who tend to favor voluntary policies or tax incentives for businesses rather than government mandates, 54 percent of GOP women were in favor of the call for more family supportive policies, as were 36 percent of men.

The write-up also has interesting data on what other countries are doing differently.  The US is the odd one out when it comes to renovating the labor market.  The US model is still largely based on the idea of a male breadwinner who has support staff at home to take care of everything else but paid work.

4.  The conservative government of Spain is trying to get a new and unpopular law on abortions passed.  If they succeed, most abortions in Spain will become illegal.  The Catholic church supports the proposed law, but, most interestingly, there's also an economic argument for it:

Last month, the Spanish government published a memo indicating that the renewed restriction on abortions, by allowing more births, could boost the country’s economy. Some academics believe the new abortion law stems from anxieties among conservatives about the falling birth rate in Spain, which is currently one of Europe’s lowest, and on the growing unpopularity of conservative ideals in Spanish society.

It's always the whip for women, never the carrot, when conservatives dictate policy.  If women don't have "enough" children, just force them.  No need to try to understand why the Spanish have fewer children than before, no need to try to support families, no need to look for those "carrots" which would make having children easier. 

5.  This video is about how it might feel to be a man in an upside world, the kind some misogynist sites believe already exists: an extreme matriarchy, run exactly on the same premises as an extreme patriarchy might be run.  The video is not recommended to those who find depictions of sexual violence triggering. 

The best way to watch the video, in general, is to remember that it is a condensed story of the kinds of events that can happen to women, not an argument that every single day of a woman's life would match the events in it.


Back To The Nineties: Monica Lewinsky vs. Hillary Clinton

The Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal is back in the news, my sweetings.  It happened almost two decades ago, and usually old scandals don't get a chance to become the Topic Of The Day that many years after the events, especially as Bill Clinton is not running for anything anymore.  Granted, the archives of Diane Blair, a friend of Hillary Clinton, who died in 2000 have become publicly available only since 2010 and the Free Beacon, a conservative news website, has published their findings from those archives.  

But the findings aren't that interesting.

So what's going on here?  Why is Rand Paul (a conservative-cum-libertarian with presidential ambitions) bringing this up again?  Let me just remind you of the facts here:  Bill Clinton isn't running for anything, the scandal is fairly old and the Republican politicians have their own share of various sex scandals.

Michael Tomasky has one answer:  Rand Paul tries to better his reputation among the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party.  No, he's not just "anything-goes-if-you-are-the-king-of-the-jungle" libertarian; he is also opposed to marital infidelity and wants to stop the persecution of Christians.  At the same time, Paul can press that old Hatred Of The Clintons button which many conservatives still have installed.

If these moves are successful, his standing among the possible Republican presidential candidates will improve.

But from a wider angle all this looks nonsensical.  Take Ann Coulter's comments on that, for instance (should anybody still care about what she says):

The right-wing radio host said that Bill Clinton's actions reflect poorly not only on his wife, but also on liberals in general.
"I think it's more than limited to just undermining Hillary," she told CNN's Piers Morgan. "It's undermining this entire idea of the Republican War on Women."

Hmm.  How do Bill Clinton's actions reflect poorly on his wife?  It wasn't Hillary Clinton who pursued other men (as far as we know) or who got blow jobs in the Oval Office, right?

And the idea that today's liberals can be stained by a sex scandal from the 1990s is just weird.  It's like saying that the David Vitter sex scandal reflects poorly on people whose political values agree with those Coulter has, and that's a more recent scandal.  Or like saying that any actual sex scandals in this long list (some may be just unfounded rumors) could be used to pin collective guilt on all who have ever voted for a Republican.

Given all that, it's very hard to see how what Bill Clinton did in the 1990s could undermine the entire idea of the Republican War on Women.

Well, it's impossible that this would be the case.  In the theoretical worst case scenario the Democrats, as a party,  are as bad about sexual infidelity and about sexual harassment and so on, but at least they are not trying to strip women from all reproductive choice, they are not fighting tooth-and-nail against any attempt to make sure that women are not facing labor market discrimination, and while only 8.2% of the Republicans in the US Congress are women, 29% of the Democrats in the US Congress are women.

And then there are those Republican politicians who blurt out stuff about how one cannot get pregnant from rape and other similarly informative snippets.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Today's Idle Thoughts Post: Remembrance of Things Past

I have over 10,000 posts on this blog.  It's hard to remember but a fraction of them.  Today I read through a couple of months' worth of posts from early 2013 and could only remember having written one of them, and recently I thought a 2009 study about the gender gap in earnings had slipped by me, unnoticed, but a check in the archives tells me that I both read through the whole long file and wrote about it, too.

This "Unremembrance of Things Past"  might be natural, given how much I have written.  But in some ways it is frightening.  I can no longer just state, off the bat, if I have covered something or not.  I have to check.

On the other hand, many of my old posts are pretty interesting when you don't remember writing them and quite a few of them are not terribly written (and a handful are excellent).   I get this odd feeling that I'm meeting my old self when reading those posts (and even the me of yesterday is not the same as the me of today, so there are lots of old selves).

All that is a very concrete example of the way we all change every day, however little, and of the fact that the passing of time makes our prior selves into different people from our current selves.  Perhaps even almost-strangers.  Maybe a better way of stating that is that the self we construct anew changes as the oldest fragments of memory tailing after us become mistier and mistier while new shiny or broken or nondescript bits are added.

James Taranto: When Rapists Collide

That guy is a bushel of fun for us viper-tongued people.  On the other hand, he is also the pilot of the right-wing Wall Street Journal's Girls Have Cooties airplane, the one which flies over our skies dangling those long banners with anti-woman messages.

For more about his consistency on the question what women might be good for, if anything, check out my earlier posts on Mr. Taranto:  Why there is a war against men and how it is caused by women's sexual freedomWhy women's careerism (women not staying properly in the kitchen and the bedroom only) and the contraceptive pill are the reason for the death of traditional marriage.

And here he tells us why the weirder kind of evolutionary psychologists are correct about all women being gold-diggers and all men wanting the largest amount of promiscuous sex with the youngest and most nubile of women.

What has Mr. Taranto done now that would be worth our attention?  He has written about sexual assault and inebriation (being drunk), and he has written about it like this:

What is called the problem of "sexual assault" on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. (Based on our reporting, the same is true in the military, at least in the enlisted and company-grade officer ranks.)

Which points to a limitation of the drunk-driving analogy. If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex. But when two drunken college students "collide," the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser's having had one drink* is sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt:

Stanford's definition of consent to sex imposes a concept that is foreign to most people's idea of adult consent and inconsistent with California state law. Stanford policy states that sexual assault occurs "when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent . . . if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol." In other words, any sexual activity while intoxicated to any degree constitutes sexual assault. This is true even if the activity was explicitly agreed to by a person capable of making rational, reasoned decisions, and even if the partners are in an ongoing relationship or marriage.

In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that "if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other." In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.

Bolds are mine.

Let's not stop with the thought experiment that if both parties are intoxicated during sex, then they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other.  Let's also notice that they might both be technically the victims of sexual assault because they cannot consent in the informed sense!

Why did I write that stupid paragraph?  Probably because it reveals the implicit assumption in Taranto's thinking that the sex he is writing about really is voluntary sex by both parties who just happen to be drunk out of their minds.  One person isn't pursuing the sex and the other person either resisting those attempts or too drunk to respond at all, but both people are eagerly driving their inebriated wagons towards sex, whether their sober selves desire that or not.  And both people are equally drunk in these scenarios, but obviously not drunk enough to be simultaneously unconscious because then no sex, voluntary or not, could happen.

Or to return to Taranto's drunken driving analogy, what if the two drunken drivers are not steering their cars towards collision, but one drunken driver chases the other drunken driver all over the town?  Are they both still equally guilty or equally innocent if the two cars ultimately do collide?

And what would Taranto propose as the solution to all these potentially mutual sexual assaults?  Can you guess, based on his general thinking on the topic of girls and cooties?  The answer: Women should return to sexual modesty:

One might argue, as City Journal's Heather Mac Donald does, that there are reasons to hold men in particular to high standards of behavior:
A return to an ethic where manhood consisted of treating women with special courtesy would be a victory for civilization, not just for college co-eds. The chivalric ideal recognizes two ineluctable truths: men and women are different, and the sexual battlefield is tilted in favor of males. On average, males are less emotionally affected by casual sex; if given the opportunity for a series of one-off sexual encounters with no further consequences, they will tend to seize it and never look back. . . . The less that a culture signals that men have a special duty toward the fairer sex, the more likely it is that the allegedly no-strings-attached couplings that have replaced courtship will produce doubts, anguish, and recriminations on the part of the female partner and unrestrained boorishness on the part of the male.
But as Mac Donald notes, contemporary feminists "embrace the Victorian conceit of delicate female vulnerability while leaving out the sexual modesty that once accompanied it." That they do all this in the name of equality is downright Orwellian.

What that boils down to is the recommendation that women shouldn't drink and that women shouldn't go out to any place where alcohol is provided to heterosexual men.  Because "sexual modesty" alone wouldn't do anything much towards fixing this problem**, as long as it is required of women only, and Taranto appears to argue that any intoxicated man has a get-out-of-jail-card by the very fact of being intoxicated.  Thus, the only solution that would work here is gender segregation in any activity where anyone might be drinking too much.

Finally, the obligatory statements:  It is not a good idea for anyone, including young men and young women, to get so intoxicated that one is unable to make sensible decisions or to practice basic mental or physical self-defense.  It is not a good idea for anyone, including young men and young women, to put their trust in the goodwill of strangers (which getting drunk in their presence means)

 *I haven't studied where that "one drink" argument comes from or if it actually is used somewhere.  But I doubt it is a very common argument.  Taranto appears to believe that all college sexual assault approaches are biased against the accused and that false rape accusations abound.  But others disagree.

**That whole historical field of sex and the Victorians is used here in the fast-food sense, without any research into whether the oh-so-sexually-modest Victorian women in fact were so, and if they were, whether that saved them from being sexually molested or raped or harassed.  Data on sexual assaults of some long gone era is hard to get hold of, and not the least because rape was a shame for the person who was raped and not a topic for general discussion.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Christina Hoff Sommers: Nope, Women Don't Earn Less Than Men. Part 3 Of 3


This is the third and final post in the series which talks back to Christina Hoff Sommers (of the AEI which should stand for Anti-Feminists Essentially Incorporated but stands for the American Enterprise Institute).  The first two posts can be read here and here.

This last post will be all about engineers.  Honestly.  Well, not just about engineers, but because Hoff Sommers focuses on engineers (as ultimately the reason why the gross gender gap between men and women is to the detriment of women),  I will have to do the same.  Isn't that fun?  We can begin with the engineer vs. lady song (hat tip to Lee Rudolph):

And then you can watch the Volkswagen Superbowl ad about engineers getting their wings:

It's a funny ad, I think, and it seems to have two female engineers, too, except that they don't get their wings.  Yet, anyway.

Funny songs and ads are not evidence of the difficulties women might face in engineering or of the question whether girls just don't like engineering and that's why we have so few women in the field ("choice," again).  But they will make this post a little less dry-and-boring.

The College Majors Data

This is what Hoff Sommers says about the topic of engineers and different life choices by women and men and the gross gender gap in earnings:

Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.

As I wrote in the second post of this series, "much of the wage gap CANNOT be explained away by simply taking account of college majors."  This is because the majority of American adults do not have a college degree (only 33% have a four-year college degree or higher, and 61.3% have no college degree at all).  But the argument has more problems than that.