Football, and indeed all sports, is a form of escape – a place of bonding – and a platform for common ground. Despite the often intense rivalries, football provides an immediately connectable point for conversation amongst perfect strangers. The Super Bowl is a uniquely American creation, with all the pageantry, spectacle and larger-than-life performances that link the entire nation – at least to some degree.
And yet the NFL took a backseat to politics this year – and had the ratings to prove it. So, I thought it was wonderfully timely that this year gave us the greatest Super Bowl I have ever seen. It also gave us an unusually political – and sometimes controversial – overtone to the commercials.
Perhaps getting the most attention prior to airing, was the Budweiser Commercial, which showed a fictionalized account of Adolphus Busch’s journey to America. I found myself mildly annoyed that Budweiser was inserting itself into the immigration debate. But I found nothing polarizing in the story of an immigrant coming legally to our country – following his dreams to build an iconically American brand. Interestingly, #boycottbudwiser is currently trending on twitter. Note the misspelling of Budweiser. If you go to the actual topic, the misspelling becomes more clear. There are few actual calls for a Budweiser Boycott. And few Trump supporters in the conversation. But there are a truly enormous number of tweets mocking Trump supporters for misspelling Budweiser – and for being beer drinkers.
Coke’s ad “It’s Beautiful” aired once again. Featuring people of diverse nationalities singing “America the Beautiful” in a variety of languages – English, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese, French, and Hebrew. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a singular nation – a single entity bound by a single Constitution – a document like no other in this world. A part of the strength of our country came from immigrants pursuing a singular goal – a desire to become part of the American Dream. Our success came from the desire of immigrants to assimilate into and adopt our culture, our ideals. To become part of – not separate from. Language is perhaps the greatest commonality people can possess – a single unifying element of a national culture that translates instantly – it identifies. Maintaining cultural elements of our mixed heritages brings a richness to our nation. Cultural assimilation brings a greatness to our nation. Maintaining and promoting separate language bases runs contrary to these philosophies and creates dissimilation – an inherent separateness. It is the goal of Globalism – it should not be the goal of our great nation.
84 Lumber’s Ad decided to be a bit more direct. Depicting a Mexican mother and her young daughter making a long journey through the desert – with the young girl collecting fabric scraps to stitch an American flag – it ends with the pair facing a giant wall – but then finding an equally giant door to make their way in. The tagline “the will to succeed is always welcome here” plays across the screen. Touching, sentimental – and lending itself to some of the reasons we have immigration – legal and illegal. The desire to come and build, create and contribute. It also ignores the fundamental right of every nation. The right to have borders and to defend them. I am fully in favor of legal immigration – for those who have come through the legal immigration process and hold a desire to assimilate and contribute. But we as a nation have a right to make that decision. Other countries do not have the right to decide for us. Nor do companies.
The American Dream has been defined as “the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers”. It defines our national character. But it also places a responsibility on all new citizens. It is not a free gift – success is not immediately bequeathed. The American Dream gives legal citizens the freedom they lack in other countries – a freedom to improve themselves and their families through hard work – an opportunity for upward mobility that is entirely dependent on the individual. And that hard work starts with pursuing citizenship through our legally established channels.
It was Audi’s Ad that really got my attention. Named “Daughter”, a father watches his young daughter compete in a go-cart race while he relays in voiceover:
“What do I tell my daughter?” he asks. “Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets? Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.”
I am a father to four wonderful children – and one new beautiful grandson from my eldest. Two girls, two boys – spanning their early to late twenties. Two have finished college and are active in their careers, two are working part-time while they finish college. I am equally proud of them all.
And the Audi Commercial disgusted and infuriated me. To tell an entire nation of young women that they should expect to be valued less than their brothers. To tell an entire nation of young men that they are inherently advantaged over their sisters. A burden of expectations placed on both sexes. Girls should expect to be required to work harder than their brothers – and to be valued as less than. Boys should expect to be more successful than their sisters or be labeled as failures – that they have automatic advantages that lift them over their sisters. What gall. Corporate pandering at its worst.
There are two differing terms: wages and earnings. Wages is defined as compensation in exchange for work done. Earnings is defined as the amount of income or profit produced during a specific period. Two differing measures. When you add up all the money women “earn” versus all the money men “earn” you will find a real and obvious disparity – about 79% of earnings per woman to that of a man. But this should be expected and the primary reasons should be immediately obvious. Men and women often make differing life and family choices. For example, my eldest took a temporary hiatus from her career to be at home with her new son while her husband continues to work in his career. A choice that they made together as a family.
Going forward, when I refer to “earnings” I am referring to the amount of money earned over a career lifetime. This is not to be confused with “wages” – the amount earned for doing a particular task.
These differences in “earnings” relate to the concept of Human Capital – the knowledge, education, experience and job skills that are accumulated. Individuals are then paid according to that Human Capital. Men and women often invest in their Human Capital in differing ways. And these differences directly impact the amount of “earnings” each individual makes throughout their career.
The first factor relates to educational levels – men tend to gravitate into computer sciences, engineering and math sciences while women tend to lean towards education, health, humanities and life sciences. These educational choices lead women to jobs where salaries are somewhat lower – for males or females. Their years of schooling are equal but choices in educational focus leads to a different salary outcome.
A second factor relates to future expectations for a career – and years spent in that career. If an expectation of a family, children and child-rearing exists for a woman, it naturally cuts into the expected years of employment versus expectations for years of employment from a man who does not plan to be the primary childcare provider. This impacted women from differing generations in different ways. Go back a couple decades and many women did not anticipate working in their middle age – and they made educational and career choices accordingly. When they unexpectedly found themselves working in times not anticipated, their prior choices led to a lower resulting salary. This impact is far smaller in our newer generational environment – one in which many women fully anticipate having a lifetime career.
A third factor relates to the time spent working. A greater percentage of women work part time than do men – again for some obvious reasons – such as going back to work on a part-time basis while their children are in school. 26% of women worked part-time versus 13% for men. And part-time work almost universally pays less than full-time work – again regardless of gender. The opposite is also true. 22% of men work more than 40 hours per week while only 11% of women do the same. These difference can be attributed to life choices – be it desiring a more balanced life or simple familial roles.
A final factor is perhaps the most obvious – tenure in a career. Women devote a greater percentage of their time towards child-rearing than do men, so women have more career interruptions and less time in a given field on average. An individual’s peak earnings period typically comes in the 45-55 year range. This is due to the simple fact that this is the period when an individual has the highest experience and can contribute the greatest amount of productivity to an organization.
When one looks a bit deeper and normalizes for these various factors (same education, same job, same career path, same tenure and experience), studies have found that the actual “wage gap” between men and women narrows to about 4%. There are numerous economic studies to back up these claims – although they are much more difficult to locate than the numerous studies touting the simple, unadjusted “earnings” gap. For those interested, here is a report on the gender wage gap from the Federal Reserve. Make sure you read beyond the first paragraph.
When one looks at what’s paid into the system via taxes, versus what’s taken out of the system via benefits – due to disability, pregnancy, life expectancy by gender, etc. – the 4% pay gap not only disappears entirely – it inverts. Men pay more in taxes and take less out than women. And, of course, there are some very solid and reasonable societal reasons for this disparity – pregnancy and child-rearing being the obvious ones. This imbalance benefits us all as a society.
In the current environment, young women may well have the advantage in starting wages. This observation comes from a 2015 Cornell Study that looked at the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The study found a significant bias towards women over men. And there is also the simple fact that more women than men are now pursuing, and obtaining college degrees. Two takes on this phenomenon may be found here and here. If the wage advantage does indeed exist for young women entering the workforce it does so for one reason – a societal response to the incorrect “gender gap” earnings perception – a quiet quota for female employees.
Here is another way to conceptually think about things. Suppose the highly publicized “earnings gap” – that women make 79% of what men make – actually existed. What would be the rational response of any corporation to this disparity? The answer is simple and obvious. Hire women exclusively and fire all male employees. The impact to a corporation’s profits would simply be immense – wages are usually the largest cost factor in most companies. But of course this does not happen – because a true wage gap does not exist.
None of this is to say that biases cannot exist in the types of educational roles women are guided into choosing at an earlier age – such as focusing on education or humanities versus a science or math degree. But this has changed substantially in recent years. In addition, our generalized expectations for women’s roles in caring for children is also different than they are for men. If one truly desires to see equal “earnings” (not wages) between men and women, then guide a greater percentage of women into the sciences and a greater percentage of men into child-rearing roles.
Few, if any, serious economists believe a true gender gap still exists. A gender gap most certainly did exist for other generations – although many of the same reasons I have listed would still apply to those periods. But for today’s young women coming out of college, the wage gap simply does not exist – although a earnings gap can still apply due to life choices or human capital investment.
The ultimate determination of “earnings” today is made by one’s life choices – not by a determined economic or gender bias in the corporate world.
These types of commonly held, pervasive beliefs that are perpetuated in our society are harmful to everyone – men and women – boys and girls. To use a biased, flawed statistic to further a particular cause is simply irresponsible and wrong. Especially one that is so easily explained using a small dose of economics and common sense. Unfair belief systems and expectations are being placed on young women and men alike. Beliefs that are inherently flawed.
And now a quick revisit to our friends at Audi.
Here is their Ad Campaign tweet highlighting the “earnings” disparity:
— Audi (@Audi) February 1, 2017
Here is a question posed to Audi by a female reader:
@Audi You pay your female employees less than males? You know that’s against the law, right?
— Prepper Frog (@TueborFrog) February 1, 2017
Here is Audi’s official response to that reader’s question:
@TueborFrog When we account for all the various factors that go into pay, women at Audi are on par with their male counterparts.
— Audi (@Audi) February 1, 2017
newer post Milo & Liberals’ War on Truth