Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rachel Maddow on the Pay Gap; Texas Tort Reform and Health Care Costs

I have two links for today.

1.  Ben Wallace-Wells has an excellent article in The Rolling Stone about liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

My reaction to Rachel Maddow is mixed.  On the positive side, I agree with the article that Rachel Maddow offers a higher level of political discourse, in that she focuses on policy, facts, and statistics rather than immature personal attacks and sensational presentation of the news.  You'll definitely learn something substantial by watching Rachel Maddow!  On the negative side, my impression is that she has contempt towards people who disagree with her, when they may very well have a valid opinion.
The article talks about Rachel Maddow's debate with Republican Alex Castellanos on Meet the Press, and my impression of that interaction differs from how the article and Maddow perceived it.  I don't think that Castellanos was simply denying a pay gap between men and women.  Rather, he was saying that men are paid more than women because women work fewer hours (presumably due to family obligations) and in lower-paying jobs.  Castellanos also said that the pay gap between men and single women was less, and he argued that, if women made less than men, companies would hire more women to save money.  (He may mean if women made less than men due to discrimination rather than the reasons he gives for the pay disparity).

Is Castellanos right on this?  That's debated.  Conservatives tend to say "yes" and present their statistics.  But there are feminists who say "no" and present their statistics and case-studies.  You can read some of my posts during March 2012 (Women's History Month) to get more background on this debate.  See here.

My problem with Maddow in that debate is not that she disagreed with Castellanos.  It's that she didn't even think that Castellanos' view on why there are pay disparities was important or worth hearing out.  Maddow should have argued why pay disparities are due to discrimination rather than the factors that Castellanos talks about.  She could have presented statistics, for example, about how women who work the same number of hours and at the same job as men are paid less.  On her own show here, she did a little better by showing that women make less in the same jobs, but (unless I missed something) she did not discuss whether women worked fewer hours due to family responsibilities.
 
I do agree with Maddow, however, that the timetable for women to prove discrimination in the workplace should be more flexible----that they shouldn't be in a situation where they learn that there is discrimination and find that it's too late to launch a lawsuit because they were not aware of the discrimination earlier.  You can watch the links above to hear Maddow's discussion of this.

2.  Did Rick Perry's tort reform in Texas bring down health care costs?  No, answers this post, as it presents graphs and charts to support its argument. 

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