Last weekend, liberal MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow and Republican political consultant Alex Castellanos got into a dustup on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” over pay disparities between men and women in the workplace.
Maddow, working from the first principle of modern American liberalism, assumed that the absence of pure equality is de facto proof of systemic oppression. Here’s part of the exchange (note the utter failure of NBC host David Gregory to moderate impartially):
Since Castellanos didn’t get much a chance to get a word in, allow me to augment his remarks with the observations of Thomas Sowell, writing in his book, “Economic Facts and Fallacies”:
The empirical fact that most male-female economic differences are accounted for by factors other than employer discrimination does not mean that there have been no instances of discrimination, including egregious instances. But anecdotes about those egregious instances cannot explain the general pattern of male-female economic differences and their changes over time. Those changes are continuing. While in the period from 2000 to 2005 most women were still holding jobs making less than the weekly median wages, women were also 1.7 million out of 1.9 million new workers earning above the median wages.
Given the numerous factors that impact the incomes and employment of women differently from the way they impact the incomes and employment of men, it can hardly be surprising that there have been substantial income differences between the sexes. Nor can all these differences be assumed to be negative on net balance for women — that is, taking other factors into account besides income. For example, the wives of affluent and wealthy men tend to work less and therefore to earn less. But the wife of a rich man is not poor, no matter how low her income might be.
Had Ms. Maddow hoped to have a real conversation about the causation of pay disparities, there was a rich body of research available to her. She didn’t of course. That wouldn’t make for nearly as good television.