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Hillary and Bernie Must ‘Stop Spewing the Gender Pay Gap Myths’

SAN DIEGO, California /PRNewswire/ — The National Coalition For Men (NCFM) calls on Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and all other candidates to be honest about the gender “pay gap.”  Claiming that women “earn less” without explaining why is misleading and dishonest.  The Department of Labor funded a study that showed the pay gap is mostly due to choices, not discrimination.

Before women get married and have kids, they earn the same as men, and are also beneficiaries of quality of life choices that favor health and longevity as reflected by statistics on industrial deaths.  After having kids, women make additional quality of life choices different from males, such as more flexible hours and less managerial positions. Women have more options than men when it comes to being primary parents.  In fact, over half of female graduates of Stanford and Harvard left the workforce within 15 years of entry into the workforce.  This is not an option for most men.

Men are either primary breadwinners or on the streets. Consequently, they make the vast majority of homeless adults, job-related deaths, suicides, and incarcerated persons.

Women who were never married and are childless earn more than their male counterparts.  And as corporate executives, women now earn more than men.

NCFM calls on the candidates of both parties to be honest and tell the whole truth about the gender pay gap as well as the many gender inequalities that men face in our society, not just in terms of homelessness, workplace deaths, and suicides but also systematic sex discrimination in child custody, criminal sentencing, public health policies, and more.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR MEN

Operating since 1977, NCFM is the oldest men’s group committed to ending sex discrimination. Throughout our history we have advanced step by step, across three nations, toward our goal of resolving issues which are barriers to progress and freedom. You may quickly realize that you are not alone or that an uncomfortable feeling has been revealingly discussed here. Or you may realize that your insight or skill could dramatically improve our mutual progress. We are not finished. We are a work in progress toward substance, comradeship, and freedom. We are glad that you are here, whether you are seeking help or learning how you can work with us.

Check out our National Advisors , read about our philosophy, make a suggestion, check out our newsletter, join us on FaceBook or come back again and again. We are a select group of serious activists, but we may enjoy your membership and our work could certainly use your support. You may enjoy an event at one of our chapters. You may be interested to know if a chapter is forming in your area. Otherwise there are events at many affiliated organizations.

Learn more about NCFM.

Busting Myths about Income Inequality by Chelsea German

Politicians speak often about income inequality. But that doesn’t mean they are well-informed. Indeed, they propagate four myths about the issue.

  1. Most often, those vying for elected office describe income inequality as static — as though the people who make up each income group do not change.
    The “top 1 percent” or the “top 10 percent” of income-earners are portrayed as exclusive clubs that seldom accept new members or see old and current members leave. No fluidity, no change.
  2. Political figures also have a tendency only to blame income inequality on factors like trade, immigration, an insufficiently high minimum wage, inadequate taxes on the wealthy, or the vague concept of “greed.”
  3. They typically ignore the sizeable role of choices under an individual’s control.
  4. They downplay the role of regressive government regulations.

Reality is much more interesting than soundbites.

Americans often move between different income brackets over the course of their lives. Indeed, over 50 percent of Americans find themselves among the top 10 percent of income-earners for at least one year during their working lives, and over 11 percent of Americans will be counted among the top 1 percent of income-earners for at least one year.

Fortunately, a great deal of what explains this income mobility are choices that are largely within an individual’s control. While people tend to earn more in their “prime earning years” than in their youth or old age, other key factors that explain income differences are education level, marital status, and number of earners per household. As AEI’s Mark Perry recently wrote:

The good news is that the key demographic factors that explain differences in household income are not fixed over our lifetimes and are largely under our control (e.g. staying in school and graduating, getting and staying married, etc.), which means that individuals and households are not destined to remain in a single income quintile forever.

According to the U.S. economist Thomas Sowell, whom Perry cites, “Most working Americans, who were initially in the bottom 20 percent of income-earners, rise out of that bottom 20 percent. More of them end up in the top 20 percent than remain in the bottom 20 percent.”

While people move between income groups over their lifetime, many worry that income inequality between different income groups is increasing. The growing income inequality is real, but its causes are more complex than the demagogues make them out to be.

Consider, for example, the effect of “power couples,” or people with high levels of education marrying one another and forming dual-earner households. In a free society, people can marry whoever they want, even if it does contribute to widening income disparities.

Or consider the effects of regressive government regulations on exacerbating income inequality. These include barriers to entry that protect incumbent businesses and stifle competition. To name one extreme example, Louisiana recently required a government-issued license to become a florist. Lifting more of these regressive regulations would aid income mobility and help to reduce income inequality, while also furthering economic growth.

If our elections were more about the substance of serious public policy issues, rather than demagoguery and soundbites, achieving reasonable solutions could move from the land of make-believe to our complex, dynamic reality.

This article first appeared at CapX.

Chelsea GermanChelsea German

Chelsea German works at the Cato Institute as a Researcher and Managing Editor of HumanProgress.org.

The Minimum Wage Fairy Tale by Donald J. Boudreaux

I spend a lot of time talking and writing about the minimum wage. I do so because it sears my economist’s soul to encounter a policy that is as popular with people as it is poorly understood by them.

Opinion polls consistently show that an overwhelming portion of Americans — about 75 percent — support raising the minimum wage. Yet there is no economic principle that is more solid than the one that explains that raising the cost of engaging in some activity (such as employing low-skilled workers) results in people engaging less in that activity.

Just as someone trying to sell a house knows that the higher the asking price, the fewer are the prospective buyers for the house, everyone should know that the higher the wage that a worker charges for his labor services, the fewer the prospective employers for that worker.

This fact holds when the government — through minimum-wage legislation — forces the worker to raise the wage he charges.

Although it’s obvious to me that artificially pushing wages up through minimum-wage legislation causes some low-skilled workers to lose their jobs (or to not be hired in the first place), it’s clearly not obvious to most of my fellow Americans. So I ask, “Why not?”

One reason, I believe, is that many of the same politicians and pundits who praise the minimum wage also loudly complain about the alleged greed and profiteering of business owners. An economically uninformed voter can therefore be forgiven for supposing that a hike in the minimum wage is fully paid for out of the “excess” profits of greedy businesses.

But, notes the economist, most minimum-wage jobs are in highly competitive industries such as food service and retailing. Being under intense competitive pressures, firms in these industries don’t rake in excess profits; they earn just enough to satisfy their investors.

If those profit rates fall even just a bit, investors scale back their support or even pull the plug. So, the typical employer of minimum-wage workers must find some way other than eating into profits to cover the added costs of a higher minimum wage.

One way is to reduce the number of low-skilled workers who are employed, combined with obliging those who remain employed at the higher minimum wage to work harder.

What about raising prices? Might that tactic raise enough revenue to fully cover the costs of a higher minimum wage?

Almost anything is possible, but higher prices charged by employers of minimum-wage workers are unlikely to result in all such workers getting a raise with none of them losing jobs. The reason is that when prices rise for restaurant meals, motel rooms and other goods and services supplied by employers of minimum-wage workers, consumers buy fewer of these goods and services.

The result? Restaurants, motels and similar employers supply fewer such goods and services — which means that these employers need fewer workers.

Tales can indeed be told about how, under just the right set of circumstances, a government policy of artificially raising firms’ costs of employing low-skilled workers will inflict no harm on such workers. But none of those tales is realistic.

This idea first appeared at the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review ©.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Donald J. Boudreaux

Donald Boudreaux is a professor of economics at George Mason University, a former FEE president, and the author of Hypocrites and Half-Wits.

Scandinavian Myths: High Taxes and Big Spending Are Popular by Nima Sanandaji

As I have explained in previous columns for CapX, there are a number of myths surrounding the Nordic countries that don’t stand up to scrutiny. These include the notion that long life span in Nordic nations arose as the public sector expanded, the idea that generous public programs alone explain low levels of Nordic poverty and the myth that Nordic countries are bumblebees that defy gravity by not being adversely affected by high taxes.

But surely the Nordic countries do show one leftist theory to be correct: that social democrat policies can be popular with the electorate.

Although the Social Democrats have recently lost much of their previous support, they did manage to dominate Nordic policies for long. Sweden was sometimes referred to as a one-party state, since the Social Democrats ruled it almost consecutively from 1932 till 2006 (interrupted by two short spells of centre-right rule during 1976-1982 and 1991-1994).

It is sometimes puzzling to the outsider why the Nordic public repeatedly have elected tax-raising governments to power. The obvious answer is ideological support for welfare state policies.

However, there is also another reason worth examining in greater detail: the general public has not been fully aware of the price tag, in terms of higher taxes, attached to expanding public sectors. Politicians have created a fiscal illusion which has resulted in higher levels of taxation that the population would otherwise have accepted as feasible had taxes been levied in a transparent way.

Before policies radicalised in the late 1960s, the tax levels in Nordic nations were around 30 percent  of GDP – quite typical of other developed nations. At the time, the tax burdens were quite visible. Most taxation occurred through direct taxes, which showed up on employees’ payslips.

Over time, an increasing share of taxation has been raised through indirect taxes. The latter are less visible to those paying them, since they are either levied before the wage is formally given to the employee or are included in the listed price of goods.

Finland is worth considering as an example. The country’s tax level was 30 percent of GDP in 1965. Indirect taxes in the form of VAT and mandatory social security contributions amounted to a quarter of total taxation. In 2013, the total tax take had increased to 44 percent of GDP, half of which was hidden taxes.

As shown below, Finnish governments have funded the expansion of the public sector by raising the hidden, but not the visible, tax burden. Denmark has followed a route wherein both hidden and visible taxes have been hiked.

Hidden and visible taxes in Finland (percentage of GDP)

Source: OECD tax database and own calculations.

Hidden and visible taxes in Denmark (percentage of GDP)

In Norway and Sweden, visible taxes are today lower than in the 1960s, although the true taxation is considerably higher. As can be seen below, it is clear that governments in both countries have followed a strategy based on replacing visible tax income with hidden tax incomes.

Thus, whilst the average worker has paid progressively more to the government, the payslips of the same worker have misleadingly shown a reduction in taxation.

Hidden and visible taxes in Norway (percentage of GDP)

Hidden and visible taxes in Sweden (percentage of GDP)

In other words, except in Denmark, the rise in taxation has occurred fully through an increase in hidden taxation.

This is in line with the predictions of fiscal illusion made by Italian economist Amilcare Puviani in 1903. Puviani explained that politicians would have incentives to hide the cost of government by levying indirect rather than direct taxes, so that the public would under-estimate the cost of policies.

The illusion can thus be created that an expanding state benefits individuals and families and yet costs less than it actually does. Nobel laureate James Buchanan and other researchers have expanded on the idea that it is easier for politicians to raise hidden, indirect taxes rather than visible ones.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that those who believe in a higher tax rate in other parts of the world have followed a similar strategy as the Nordic nations. The American left-liberal think tank the Roosevelt Institute openly recommends “less-visible taxes that Americans are more likely to support.”

The Obamacare system launched in the US represents a form of indirect taxation – through an overly complex system – that is even more difficult to comprehend for the average taxpayer than in the Nordic systems.

I don’t doubt that less visible taxes in the US, the UK or other parts of the world would prove an easier route to raise the tax burden than visible taxes. This is indeed a lesson that the left can learn from the Nordics.

But the question remains if this is a good route to venture on. Shouldn’t politicians strive for systems where people are aware of how much they are paying for the government?


Nima Sanandaji

Dr. Nima Sanandaji is a research fellow at CPS, and the author of Scandinavian Unexceptionalism available from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

EDITORS NOTE: This article was originally published at CapX.

The EPA Myth of “Clean Power”

There are many things I do not like about the Environmental Protection Agency, but what angers me most are the lies that stream forth from it to justify programs that have no basis in fact or science and which threaten the economy.

Currently, its “Clean Power” plan is generating its latest and most duplicitous Administer, Gina McCarthy, to go around saying that it will not be costly, nor cost jobs. “Clean Power” is the name given to the EPA policy to reduce overall U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. It is requiring each state to cut its emissions by varying amounts using a baseline established by the EPA.

Simply said, there is no need whatever to reduce CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is not “a pollutant” as the EPA claims. It is, along with oxygen for all living creatures, vital to the growth of all vegetation. The more CO2 the better crops yields will occur, healthier forests, and greener lawns. From a purely scientific point of view, it is absurd to reduce emissions.

Cartoon - EPA Torture ReportWriting in The Wall Street Journal on April 22, Kenneth C. Hill, Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, said “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) set off a firestorm when he advised states not to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Yet that advice isn’t as radical as his detractors make it sound. As a state public utilities commissioner who deals with the effects of federal regulations on a regular basis, I also recommend that states not comply.”

Noting its final due date in June, that refusal would impose a Federal Implementation Plan on states “that risks even greater harm,” said Hill. “But the problem for the EPA is that the federal government lacks the legal authority under either the Constitution or the Clean Air Act to enforce most of the regulation’s ‘building blocks’ without states’ acquiescence.”

As this is being written there is are two joined cases before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, State of West Virginia v EPA and Murray Energy v EPA. They are a challenge to President Obama’s “War on Coal” and the EPA efforts to regulate its use. Fifteen states, along with select coal companies, have sued for an “extraordinary whit” to prevent the EPA from promulgating the new carbon regulations found it the Clean Power plan.

Writing in The Hill, Richard O. Faulk, an attorney and senior director for Energy Natural Resources and the Environment for the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University, noted that “The EPA’s argument confidently hinges on convincing the courts that the Clean Air Act doesn’t mean what it says. By its plain language, the bill prohibits the EPA from regulating the power plants from which these emissions derive. Moreover, coal plants are already addressed under an entirely different section of the bill than the one EPA insists justifies its powers.”

The latest news as reported by Myron Ebell, the director for energy and environment of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is that “Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) this week introduced a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. S. 1324, the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, has 26 original co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Democrat Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).”

“Both Majority Leader McConnell and Chairman Inhofe have said that they are determined to stop EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, so I expect quick action to move Capito’s bill. In the House, a bill to block the rules, H. R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, was voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on 29th April and is awaiting floor action.”

It’s worth noting that, when Obama took office, fifty percent of America’s electrical energy was supplied by coal-fired plants and, just six years later, that has been reduced by ten percent. What kind of President would deliberately reduce American’s access to affordable power?

It’s the same kind of President that believes—or says he does—the pronouncements of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report” claims that world will face “severe, pervasive and irreversible damage” if coal-fired and other carbon-based—coal, oil, and natural gas—energy sources aren’t replaced with “renewable energy sources”—wind and solar—by 2050. It wants fossil-fueled power generation “phased out almost entirely by 2100.” Now this is just insanity, unless your agenda is to destroy the world’s economic system and kill millions. That would be the only outcome of the IPCC recommendations.

The columnist Larry Bell, a professor at the University of Houston, points out that “As for expecting renewables to fill in the power curve, European Union experiences offer a painful reality check. Approximately 7.8 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from wind, 4.5 percent from solar. Large as a result, German households already fork out for the second highest power costs in Europe—often as much as 30 percent above the levels seen in other European countries. Power interruptions add to buyer’s remorse.”

Heartland - Climate News (2)As reported in The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News, “European governments, once at the vanguard of renewable energy mandates, appear to be having second thoughts about their reliance on giant wind farms…” There has been a sharp drop in such projects with installations plunging 90% in Denmark, 75% in Italy, and 84% in Spain.

What the EPA is attempting to impose on America is a drain on our production of electricity coupled with an increase in its price. It is an obscene attack on our economy.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Shutterstock.

We’re ALL Out of Africa

I think if we were honest enough to admit it, we are all bigoted in some way. Our gender or religion doesn’t really qualify us as superior to anyone else, but we tend to fall back on these identities and, consciously or not, assume they give us a reason to feel that we are not only in possession of a special truth, but that it grants us the privilege to feel better than others.

When we examine the issue of race, however, the bigotry is inherent because racial groups are inclined to assign superior characteristics to their own. It’s called human nature.

There is something else “human” that we need to address, over and above skin color, eye color, hair and other visible differences.

“All human variants in DNA in all people alive today trace their origins to countless common ancestors, all of whom lived in Africa more than sixty thousand years ago. As humans, everyone is related by common ancient ancestry, and ultimately, everyone is African.”

Cover - Everyone is AfricanThat is the message of a new book by Daniel J. Fairbanks, the dean of the College of Science and Health at Utah Valley University, a distinguished research geneticist and author. “Everyone is African: How Science Explodes the Myth of Race” ($18.00. Prometheus Books, softcover). In a world where race is a component of our lives, Fairbanks says, “Unfortunately, few people are aware of how much is known about the genetic basis of race—or more accurately, the lack thereof.”

“To many, the notion that race is inherited seems self-evident. Yet extensive genetic research has demonstrated that the genetic variation associated with what most people perceive as race represents a small proportion of overall genetic variation. When viewed on a global scale, there are no discrete genetic boundaries separating so-called races.”

DNA1It’s hard to argue with DNA, a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions of all known living organisms. Its scientific name is deoxyribonucleic acid and, along with proteins and carbohydrates, it composes the three major macromolecules deemed essential for all known forms of life. Most DNA molecules consist of two biopolymer stands coiled around each other to form a double helix.

What we take to be “race” traces back some one hundred thousand years ago when our species, humans, all lived in Africa. Those early ancestors began to migrate from Africa eventually inhabiting the entire globe. That makes the “human race” one race.

So much evil has been done in the name of race that much of our history and the world’s stems from the notion that the variations, Caucasian, Negro, Asian, are determinative of various traits we attribute to these and other “races.” If we step back a bit, we will conclude we are talking about cultural differences, often the result of geological differences. As Fairbanks notes, regarding the findings of DNA research, “According to their estimates, people worldwide differ on average by about 0.1 percent, evidence that all humans are genetically quite similar to one another.”

It is hard, if not impossible, to argue with the science involved. “The oldest remains of what anthropologists call ‘anatomically modern humans’ (skeletons with features that resemble modern humans) are exclusively from Africa, dating to about two hundred thousand years ago. By contrast, the earliest remains of anatomically modern humans outside of Africa thus far discovered are about one hundred thousand years old.”

The migration out of Africa is dated to about sixty thousand to seventy thousand years ago “and their descendants, through many generations, eventually populated the rest of the world.”

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, “most of the mutations that became variants affecting skin, eye, and hair pigmentation happened outside of Africa in the distant descendants of people who originally left Africa..” Those variations then spread through their descendants within broad geographic regions.”

Those other people you see around you? You are related to all of them.

© Alan Caruba, 2015