Why “Equal Pay” Would Not be Equal (posted 7/16/19)

Although I’m enjoying all of the entertaining feuding going on within the Democrat party, and between the Dems and Trump, I have a few thoughts about a story from last week that combines several of the things I hate most in the world: soccer, entitled young adults with ridiculously colored hair, and economic illiteracy.

I am speaking, of course, of the US Women’s soccer victory in the World Series of Soccer, or the Triple Crown, or whatever it’s called.  (If you just spoke out loud the correct name of the competition they won, you should be ashamed of yourself for having so poorly spent your life that you know the name of the Super Bowl of soccer.  We’re all going to be dead relatively soon, and you wasted some of your precious time – time that could have been spent reading a Shakespeare sonnet, or listening to Tom Waits singing, “Martha,” or drinking a chocolate milk shake – following soccer.  Hang your head in shame!)

Early on in their quest for the Stanley Cup – or whatever obscure trinket one “wins” for being good at soccer – the US women’s team was getting a lot of international condemnation for their “ugly American” behavior.  Apparently they beat a few very weak teams lopsidedly, and gloated over each run scored – I’m not up on the details of each game/match/bout/whatever, because each time I started trying to research the details, I fell into a sound sleep.

Most of the time, I’m not one to worry too much about what the international community thinks about American behavior, especially since “ugly Americanism” often means whipping the locals in sports or a world war.  But lefty “citizen of the world” types usually lose sleep over such things, and cannot stand to think that the Belgians or the Wakandans might be turning up their noses at us.  Which might account for why we didn’t hear so much about the US women’s soccer success early on in this year’s tournament/round robin/googly/whatever.

But when it turned out that one of our most prominent players is an anthem-hating, gay, leftist, Trump-despiser, the MSM jumped on the boredom bandwagon and made the Master’s of Soccer the biggest sports story of the year.

So I read a story about this woman, who is named Megan Rapinoe.  She looks like a young Tilda Swinton, with purple hair and a perpetual smirk. My first thought was that this is a youngster in her early 20s, and she is probably going through a phase that she will grow out of.  You know that she went through a goth thing in her sophomore year, and she’s got a few weird piercings, and she calls her step-dad “Brian” just because she knows how much that bugs him.

Then I found out that she was 34 years old!   Good lord!  When I first read her list of grievances, it sounded like a manifesto scrawled in purple ink by a teenager who just discovered Sylvia Plath and Howard Zinn, and finally knows the truth, man.  “Amerikka was founded by old white men to protect their money and to keep down women and people of color and the differently abled.  Also, male football players are paid way more than female soccer players!”

It was this last point – that female soccer players are woefully underpaid compared to their penile-American counterparts — that especially irritated me.  (I’d say “triggered me,” but I’m not a narcissistic undergrad with the mental fragility of a delicate porcelain mouse.) Because the equal pay mantra has been taken up by a lot of lefties, celebrities and MSM empty heads, and it is so dumb that it makes my teeth ache!

Of course, it’s no surprise that leftists don’t generally know much about economics – if they did, many of them wouldn’t be leftists.  (Some still would.  Because if you haven’t been reasoned into a position, you cannot be reasoned out of it.)  And you don’t have to try hard to find recent examples of absolute economic ignorance being spouted by nationally prominent Democrats in recent months:

  • Bernie and the other socialists claim that removing the profit motive will produce inexpensive, high quality health insurance for all, with no rationing or wait lists.
  • Various Dems think that doubling or tripling the minimum wage would help all unskilled workers, without causing any negative effects at all.
  • AOC thinks that if NYC gives Amazon a tax break worth X million dollars, that means that NYC writes a check for that amount to Amazon from taxpayer funds.
  • Elizabeth Warren thinks that she’s an Apache princess. (I know, that’s not an example of economic illiteracy at all.  But #wemustneverstopmockingher)

 

I would wager that not 10% of the Congress – and way fewer Dems – could explain even relatively straightforward economic fundamentals such as moral hazard, or the tragedy of the commons, or the Laffer Curve.

But this ain’t that! It’s a little basic supply and demand, and the kind of simple math that even Paul Krugman could do without taking off his shoes.

Rapinoe’s essential point is that the US women soccer team has been more successful than the men, so they should be paid at least the same or more.  She was thrilled that after the victory, many in the crowd chanted “equal pay,” and booed the head of the soccer organization, whoever he is.  She gave an interview calling on the organization to increase women players’ pay, saying, “It’s time to take it forward to the next step. A little public shame never hurt anybody, right? I’m down with the boos.”

She’s basically arguing that the women nag and browbeat the men running things until they cave in and give the carping harpies what they want.

Way to fight those gender stereotypes, Megan!

There are at least two ways to look at this issue, both of which quickly destroy Rapinoe’s position.  I’ll call one the “context-less judgment” test, and the other the “butts-in-seats” test.

The first would involve removing all context – in this case, the gender of the players – and rewarding whoever are the best players with the highest pay.  In other words, have the women’s pro soccer team play the men’s pro soccer team, see who’s better, and pay them accordingly.

A sane person might say, “But men and women are different.  Men are physically bigger and stronger, and they’d destroy the women.  That’s ridiculous.”

And as a fellow sane person, I would agree.  But good leftists like Megan Rapinoe and the Democrats in congress and the MSM could NOT agree. Because they’ve been telling us for years that gender is a social construct, and men and women are NOT different.  This would be a great chance for them to put their money where their genitalia are.

Wait.  That didn’t sound right.  But you know what I mean.

We don’t have to hypothesize who would win such a contest.  Because in 2017 a team of under-15-year-old boys played a scrimmage against the US Women’s Soccer team, and beat them by a score of 5-2.  To be fair, some have pointed out that the women likely didn’t play all-out because they were preparing for a tournament, and didn’t want to risk injury.  Still, do you think an NBA team – even one playing at half-speed, to avoid injuries – could ever come close to losing to some talented teen-age girls?  Or, for that matter, to the best WNBA team?

I don’t mention any of that to denigrate the women’s athletic talent.  But the same principle would hold true in almost every sport.  The best male college (and often, high school) players – in tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, wrestling, track, golf, etc. – would dominate the best female pro athletes in the world.  Because men and women are different.  (This report brought to you by Commodore Obvious.)

And since those under-15 boys get paid zero dollars, while the US women are paid millions, wouldn’t that mean that the women are wildly over-paid?

No, it wouldn’t.  Because of the “butts-in-seats” test.

In even a quasi- free market economy, pay rates for jobs in sports, entertainment and the arts are based on how many fans pay for the product.  Two bands might put identical amounts of work into creating an album; if one bombs and one’s a hit, the latter is paid way more.  Two actors might work equally hard on two movies; if fans stay away from one movie and see the other one, one actor gets paid way more.

I learned this painful lesson first-hand.  In my late 20s, I wrote 5 novels.  They were competent but not great – I think I’m a better writer now – and I was able to interest two different agents, but the novels ultimately didn’t sell.  I put several thousand hours into them, and earned a total of zero dollars.  At the same time, Stephen King and Tom Clancy also wrote 5 novels each, and they earned millions from theirs.  Because millions of people were willing to buy them.

Did you hear me whining about how unfair life is, or how the publishing world is biased against ruggedly handsome young unknown authors?  Did I try to shame the government into paying me for writing books that nobody wanted to buy?

You did not.  Because I’m not a purple-haired, leftist, gyno-American goon.

In the past year, men’s soccer competitions have raised $6 billion, while women’s games have raised $131 million.  According to my golden abacus, that means that the men’s teams brought in around 45 times as much as the women’s did.  If Rapinoe could put some more butts in seats – and be less of a giant arse in interviews – she would be earning a piece of a much larger pie.

Rapinoe herself seemed to acknowledge the real root of the problem.  When she was being interviewed by cute little guy Rachel Maddow, Rapinoe was asked what fans can do to support the fight for equal pay.  Her answer undercut her entire “blame sexism” argument: “Fans can come to games…. [W]e have nine teams in the NWSL. You can go to your league games. You can support that way. You can buy players’ jerseys, you can lend your support in that way. You can tell your friends about it, you can become season ticket holders.”

Everything she said was true.  The bottom line is that almost none of us want to watch soccer, and fewer than that want to watch women’s soccer.

I call that an encouraging sign of the health of our culture.

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