when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 201,000 households have women as the sole or primary breadwinner; 39% of those households (78,038) are living at or below the poverty line.  More specifically with the NPWF analysis, if the wage gap were eliminated in Mississippi, on average, a working woman in Mississippi would have 77 more weeks of food for her family, nine more months of mortgage and utility payments or more than nine additional months of rent.

Women make up half of Mississippi’s workforce, but 72% of the state’s minimum-wage workers.  A minimum wage leaves a family of two below the poverty level.

We have a economic hole that our legislators should be busy digging us out of.  Perhaps enforcing wage parity for women in Mississippi — many of them primary breadwinners for their homes and families — would help.

Darrin Webb is not interested in the gender wage gap and its effect on Mississippi.  In case you didn’t read the last post, he is our state economist.  And he says that he doesn’t have time to deal with such a thing “unless…requested.”  So I asked a friend in the legislature if he would request a study on the gender wage gap in Mississippi.  And I am going to ask the same of our State Treasurer, Lynn Fitch.

I am sure both the legislature and our State Treasurer would expect a full study, but among other things, I would like for Mr. Webb to tell us:

  1.  What his calculation of Mississippi’s Equal Pay Day is?  (The nation’s is April 12 — the additional length of time women must work to earn as much as men did in the previous year.)
  2. How wage gaps trend in Mississippi.  (AAUW study shows that if the gap is 7% the first year of employment, it widens in future years such that a woman with a college education will make on average $1.2 million less than a man with the same level of education.)
  3. What sort of economic stimulus would occur in Mississippi if the state determined to close the pay gap?
  4. Would this impact women-owned business in Mississippi?
  5. How likely are women who receive a larger salary to spend that new income in their community?
  6. Could equalizing the gender wage gap allow more women to leave safety net programs like Medicaid and welfare?
  7. Has Mississippi done anything to promote an understanding of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
  8. How would equal pay legislation interfere with the operation of the labor market?
  9. Is there a difference in the gap in STEM occupations?
  10. If all employed women in Mississippi earned the same as their mail counterparts of the same age with similar education and hours of work, would the poverty rate of women in Mississippi drop?
  11. How does the gender gap affect Mississippi families?  How would it change if the women in the families were paid equally?

It seems to me — a non-economist, that alleviating the gender pay gap could contribute to gains in the GDP, reduce poverty, and ultimately reduce dependence on federal safety-net programs.  It could potentially boost income tax collections and sales tax collections.

If there is anything you would like to know about the gender wage gap in Mississippi from our state economist, how about posting here and I’ll pass on all these inquiries to the State Treasurer and my legislator friend.  You never know when one action can pick up steam and make a difference.

Tamar Manasseh is a mom who organized Mothers Against Senseless Killings who witnessed the death of a neighborhood resident, Lucille Barnes, in June of 2015.  The group (MASK) hangs out at 75th Street and Harvard Avenue in Chicago, and began their vigil the week after Lucille was killed.

Tamar has enlisted many mothers in the neighborhood.  Sometimes they have food with them, but mostly they just wear their pink MASK T-shirts.  As she says, the group is doing what “mothers do best, get in the way.”

Tamar Manasseh is a lovely woman, but more than that, she is a good spirit.  She is one of those people who believes that one person can make a difference, and she and her group of mothers have made a difference.  “Their corner” has not experienced violence since they have been “in the way” of wrong-doers.  “If you’re trying to shoot someone and we’re out here, you’re not getting off the block!”  Amen.


Tamar Manasseh at “her corner.”

How many times in your life have you heard someone refer to an almost impossible task as requiring “an act of Congress?”

Well, I have some good news about acts of Congress.  Our US Congress ACTED to allow WASP pilot Elaine Harmon to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery today.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh, determined in 2002 that WASPs should not be allowed to have burials in Arlington.  Who is he?  A story for another time.

The wonderful part of this story is HR 4336, the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act of 2016 — introduced by Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) with 191 co-sponsors.  Shortly thereafter, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced a companion bill, S 2437.  The act was signed into law by President Obama in May 2016.

So, after a battle led by Elaine Harmon’s granddaughter, Erin Miller, today Elaine Harmon’s ashes were taken out of her daughter’s closet and interred at Arlington.  Harmon had died in April 2015 at the age of 95.

And if an act of Congress is not enough, there was a fly-by by World War II aircraft, a 21 gun salute from the Air Force Honor Guard, and “Taps.”  The honor guard folded the American flag and a female member of the Honor Guard handed the flag to Harmon’s daughter.

So, back to John McHugh.  Since 1977, federal law has granted WASPs status as WWII veterans, and in 2002 they became eligible to have their ashes interred at Arlington with full military honors.  Then John McHugh determined that WASPs never should have been allowed in Arlington and revoked their eligibility.

According to McHugh, in 2014 “Army lawyers” reviewed the rules and determined that WASPs and other  WWII veterans classified as “active duty designees” were not eligible for inurnment.  This decision included in excess of 250,000 Merchant Marines who served during WWII, as well as WASPs, a group of 1,074.

A life is a life is a life.  A life given in public service for our nation is a life that is due burial or inurnment at any national cemetery for veterans, whether operated by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the US Army.

Ninety-three (93) of the original 1,074 WASPs remain alive.

Thank you, Congress, for taking this act!


Darrin Webb is the Mississippi state economist.  He says that he has never studied the economic impact the gender wage gap has on the state of Mississippi.  “It’s just not been an issue that’s come up for us,”  Webb said.  “No one has requested any kind of analysis like that and frankly, we don’t have the time unless one is requested.”  (see http://www.sunherald.com/news/business/article 99990907.html)

Darrin Webb has been the State economist and Director of the University Research Center since July 2010.  His job requires that he be responsible for economic forecasting and soci0-economic policy analysis.  Among other things, he forecasts and monitors collections of state general fund revenue, and works closely with the Legislative Budget Office, the State Legislature, the Governor’s administration and other agencies on matters concerning the state’s economy and long range strategic planning.

The state economy is in about the worst shape I can remember it being in since I moved here in 1969.  And since women do not matter in this state, it is not surprising that no one has ever requested a study on the economic impact of the gender wage gap in Mississippi, nor that Mr. Webb would have the intellectual curiosity to think in terms of the economic impact of wage parity on state tax collection, on the consumer economy, and on social safety-nets that our legislators should be funding.

You know what?  I am going to send an email to the State Treasurer right now and ask her to make a request that Mr. Webb study the economic impact of the gender wage gap on our State.  Since during our last calendar year, there were 1,373,554 males and 1,471,104 females (48.3% of the population to 51.7%) it appears to me that inquiry would be not only reasonable, but warranted.


Women have had the right to vote for less than a century.  But we are more likely to vote.  Voter turnout rates for women have historically equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion of female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of male adults who voted, and women constitute more than half the population.  In 2004, 60.1% of women and 56.3% of men voted — 67.3 million women and 58.5 million men.  That’s an 8.8 million person difference.  Eight million votes can win an election.

Amazingly, Mississippi ranks number 5 in the list of states that have the greatest participation in presidential elections.  In 2012, 68% of voters got out to vote.  This is unusual.  Most of the 10 states with the least participation in presidential elections are our fellow southern states.

But here’s the point.  Women can make a difference in any election that we decide to. When are we going to decide to?

Gloria Steinem noted in an interview on NPR that violence against women and girls is probably the most serious issue facing women in the US and around the world. “The most dangerous place for a woman in this country is her own home” per Steinem (NPR, 2015).

Guess what?  I am delighted to tell you that, according to the Violence Policy Center, Mississippi is not among the top ten states in violence against women perpetrated by men.  The Center indicated that the states where women or girls are more likely to be killed by men during the decade immediately preceding this one are:  South Carolina, Alaska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Vermont, Maine and Michigan.

For the years 2004 to 2013, the average rate of incidents of one man killing one women, per 100,000 women, was 0.5-1 in Mississippi.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that almost 20 percent of US women have been raped at one point in their lives, nearly a third of US women have experienced domestic violence — and a quarter of those reporting severe violence such as being strangled, hit with a fist or stabbed.  Approximately 65% of women in the US who are killed in homicides were slain by a family member or an intimate partner.

It’s making me think that Lorena Bobbitt had the right idea.

October 2016
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