By Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Thanks to the fundraising and polling success of Senator Bernie Sanders, socialism has become increasingly fashionable in the United States, particularly among young people. Because people are treating Sanders’ old ideas as if they’re just the kind of bold and fresh thinking America needs, I’ve released a free eBook refuting them called Bernie Sanders Is Wrong. Whether it’s trade, “inequality,” alternative energy, the $15 minimum wage, greater fringe benefits for workers, or why the Scandinavian model is supposed to be such a great example for America, Sanders is indeed deeply wrong, and my free book will show you why. Download it as a PDF, EPUB, or for your Kindle.
Let’s consider just one issue in a bit of detail: the so-called gender pay gap, which Sanders has repeatedly denounced. We’re told that women are paid only 77% of what men are, and we’re left to insert the words “for doing the same work.” But in fact, they’re not doing the same work, and that’s kind of the point. The 77% figure comes from aggregating hours worked at all jobs by women and men and then dividing the one into the other. When the result is less than 100%, we are to conclude that the cause must be “sexism.”
But get this: to arrive at this figure, you have to disregard the number of hours worked by women compared to the number of hours worked by men! You think that might be a variable worth incorporating?
Supporters of the gender pay-gap theory say they are incorporating hours worked – why, we’re comparing full-time female workers with full-time male workers! Except they neglect to mention that the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers anyone working at least 35 hours per week to be a full-time worker. Well, there’s a lot of variation in there! Women are much more likely to be on the lower end of that spectrum – 12% of women are working just 35 to 39 hours per week, while only five percent of men are working that little.
On the other hand, 26% of men are working more than 40 hours per week, while only 14% of women are.
Factor in these differences in hours worked, the so-called 23 percent pay gap drops all the way to 12 percent. With just that one adjustment. Let me repeat: the gender pay-gap liars aren’t even accounting for the number of hours women work as compared to men.
And by the way, you know what prominent institution in America also has a 12 percent gender pay gap? The Obama White House. When confronted with this statistic, Jay Carney simply explained that women and men have different jobs in the White House, a defense he seems unwilling to accept from every ordinary employer in the country.
As for the rest of the pay gap, it can be accounted for by means of entirely benign explanations, as the book explains.
Oddly enough, I have found even some libertarians who are quick to defend Sanders on the grounds that there’s a lot of cronyism in the American economy that we should all oppose. No doubt. But Sanders is not making any such fine distinctions. It is capitalism, not cronyism, he is attacking, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to pretend otherwise.
Now to criticize Bernie Sanders is not in any way to suggest that his main rival, Hillary Clinton, is any better. I’m focusing on Sanders for this reason: nobody considers Hillary an idea person, blazing an independent trail and offering fresh, exciting, and radical proposals. But that is precisely how people are being encouraged to think of Bernie Sanders, which is what makes him so dangerous. Get your free copy of Bernie Sanders Is Wrong (PDF, EPUB, or Kindle; as usual, right-click and save the file to your device) and push back against the ongoing rehabilitation of socialism.