Gender wage gap. Again.

This is getting ridiculous.  So, HuffPo links to this piece saying that Republican pundit Alex Castellanos was caught out lying about this gap on the Maddow show when CNN took an impartial look.  Umm, not actually so.  Notice that not all that subtle conflation of distinct statistics:

CNN ran a package on the subject, and said that Castellanos’ claims that men make more money because they work more hours per week, and work in professions that pay higher wages, was inconsistent with data from the Census Bureau. Sylvester quoted a report that stated, “In 2010, the earnings of women who worked full time, year-round were 77 percent of that for men working full time, year-round, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio.”

Um, hello. Working “full-time, year round” is not the same as working the same hours.  Castellanos in response links to this WSJ piece that nicely breaks things down.  To wit:

One stubborn fact of the labor market argues against the idea. That is the gender-hours gap, close cousin of the gender-wage gap. Most people have heard that full-time working American women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Yet these numbers don’t take into account the actual number of hours worked. And it turns out that women work fewer hours than men.

The Labor Department defines full-time as 35 hours a week or more, and the “or more” is far more likely to refer to male workers than to female ones. According to the department, almost 55% of workers logging more than 35 hours a week are men. In 2007, 25% of men working full-time jobs had workweeks of 41 or more hours, compared with 14% of female full-time workers. In other words, the famous gender-wage gap is to a considerable degree a gender-hours gap.

The main reason that women spend less time at work than men—and that women are unlikely to be the richer sex—is obvious: children. Today, childless 20-something women do earn more than their male peers. But most are likely to cut back their hours after they have kids, giving men the hours, and income, advantage.

My response to this is: good for women!  Too many men work to hard and shortchange their families.  Women have their priorities in the right place.  I could sure as hell be in an occupational position making more money, but I would not then have the time to spend taking care of the four crazy nuts (okay three, Sarah’s not very nutty.  Yet.)  Now look, I’m not going to deny for a second that there isn’t very real gender discrimination in the workplace, but this $.77 way over-states and serves to take the focus away from the real issues– different working patterns and different societal expectations for men and women– to focus on a bogeyman issue of flat out wage discrimination for the same work.  I don’t doubt that happens some, but nowhere near the 23% level.  Men get paid more because they work more hours in more lucrative jobs.  That’s going to get you 95% of the way or so there.  Should we worry about the other 5%?  Yes, actually.  But let’s be honest about it.

Photo of the day

I absolutely love the all request sets Alan Taylor puts together.   Of lots of terrific shots, I think this is my favorite:

Justin Badlam (@jmbadlam) requested a photo of the “2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.” A young Phoenix Coyotes fan is tossed in the air as fans around her cheer on their team as Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, of Finland, stands in front of the goal during the third period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series, Friday, April 27, 2012, in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes won 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Forget prozac, try Lactobacillus rhamnosus

The most recent Radiolab, “Guts” was the best in a while (and that’s really saying something).  Chock full of fascinating information about guts, digestion, etc.  They started off the show with one of my favorite quirky topics– fistulated cows:

Anyway, as long time readers know, I’m also a little bit obsessed with the topic of bacteria— especially the good bacteria that is so essential to human health.  I therefore felt a little remiss that I had not learned about this– the most fascinating tidbit on the Radiolab show.  At least in a mouse model, a particular strain of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus (I take a different strain every day via Culturelle) had a pretty amazing impact on reducing the stress response:

The research, carried out by Dr Javier Bravo, and Professor John Cryan at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in University College Cork, along with collaborators from the Brain-Body Institute at McMaster University in Canada, demonstrated that mice fed with Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed significantly fewer stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviours than those fed with just broth. Moreover, ingestion of the bacteria resulted in significantly lower levels of the stress-induced hormone, corticosterone.

“This study identifies potential brain targets and a pathway through which certain gut organisms can alter mouse brain chemistry and behaviour. These findings highlight the important role that gut bacteria play in the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, the gut-brain axis, and opens up the intriguing opportunity of developing unique microbial-based strategies for treatment for stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression,” said John F. Cryan, senior author on the publication and Professor of Anatomy and Principal Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland funded Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, at UCC. The APC researchers included Dr Hélène Savignac and Professor Ted Dinan.

Pretty damn cool.  Maybe my daily L. Bacillus GG is why I’m so even-keeled and low stressed :-).

Death penalty and cost/benefit

Interesting column today by Charles Lane about keeping the death penalty as an option for at least the “worst of the worst,” i.e., Anders Breivik in Norway:

In the United States, abolitionist arguments are gaining traction, especially claims about the high cost of lengthy death-penalty litigation and the risk of executing people by mistake. Malloy also cited a “moral component” to his decision.

Such practical and moral concerns are at their most understandable in run-of-the-mill convenience-store murder cases, where the risk of error seems relatively high compared with the benefits of punishing murder with death.

But Breivik’s was no ordinary crime. It presents the special case of a cold-blooded massacre of children by a political terrorist whose guilt is unquestionable and who remains utterly unrepentant; indeed, he told the court that he would kill again if given the opportunity…

The stubborn fact is that death-penalty abolitionism runs counter to one of humanity’s oldest and most persistent moral intuitions: that there should be condign retribution for the most monstrous transgressions.

Agreed with all that.  I have no doubt that Breivik deserves to die for his crime.  And probably some of those more heinous “convenience store” murderers as well.  And my moral intuition feels quite good when really bad people are executed for their crimes.  That said, it really comes down to the cost/benefit that Lane points out.  If you are going to have the death penalty, you are going to be executing innocent people.  That is simply a cost I am unwilling to bear for the benefit of executing the really bad guys.  In theory, we could limit the death penalty to the obviously guilty among the worst of the worst offenders.  But, as much as I think slippery slope arguments are over-used, I suspect that you are very much looking at a slippery slope here and that once you have a death penalty, more and more accused murders would actually be facing it.

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