Open the Books, an organization dedicated to transparency of government spending, tracks and publishes government spending online and serves as one of the largest private databases of government…
Politicians routinely criticize the private sector for not hiring enough women in key positions such as the fact that in 2017, only 32 of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs. Yet, a closer examination of public sector (i.e. government) jobs also reveals a disparity. According to a recent report by Open the Books, one of the largest private databases of government spending in the world, men outnumber women as the top-paid employees on both the state and federal level.
On the federal level, females account for only 1 in 3 of the top earning positions.
Of the top-paid Congressional staffers (earning up to $172, 500), men outnumber women 2 to 1.
On the state level (data from the five most populous states: Florida, Texas, Illinois, California, New York), only 20% of the 1000 most highly compensated employees were women. Male employees collectively earned $1.6 billion while women collectively earned $386 million. Only 7 women represented the top 100 highest earning employees across the five states.
The hiring gap and compensation differences of congressional staff also reveal gender hiring gaps as an issue for both parties. As Open the Books, CEO and Founder Adam Andrzejewski states, “[The] taxpayer-funded gender gap crosses both sides of the aisle.”
The case study of House of Representatives Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi’s office (D-CA) states that in terms of yearly salaries, “on average, male employees made $124,404 while female employees made $94,389,” despite the fact that less men (25 men and 30 women) composed her staff. How? The men on her staff rank in higher positions than the women, and that’s why they earn more. It’s not that she’s paying women less for the same job (that’s illegal), it’s just that she’s either not hiring women to higher paying positions or not promoting existing female staff to higher paying positions. On her website, Pelosi champions the cause of opportunity and pay for women stating, “Too many women are asked to bear the burden of outdated policies that diminish opportunities for women’s full participation in the workforce. Too many women are faced with the lack of good-paying job, and the daily challenge of providing for their families.” Yet, her own office lacks action on the ideals she espouses.
The office of Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also revealed a gender compensation difference. Schumer employed 32 men and 41 women. The male employees averaged $76, 711 per year while the females averaged $69,263. Again, this seems due to the fact that men occupied more highly compensated positions than women.
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), employed 21 males and 23 females, the male employees made $107,813 per year while the female employees made a drastically lower $66,726. Like Pelosi and Schumer’s offices, this reveals that the males in McConnell’s office fill higher paying positions than the women.
This data sparks key questions about women, careers and government leadership. Is the hiring disparity the fault of government employers who prefer hiring men to women, or are less women interested in government jobs in general? Are women not receiving promotions or do women prefer a lower paying government position with greater flexibility?
Government leaders who hypocritically criticize the private sector for gender hiring gaps, should first examine their own staffs. If the hiring and promotion gap exists due to a lack of female applicants, give these women the freedom to choose a career they enjoy. However, if the hiring gap proves to be based on discrimination, politicians should access their own hiring practices before they criticize private companies.
Note: The Open the Books oversight report states “Our analysis didn’t find a gender wage gap, but a gender hiring gap in the highly compensated employees…Employees in the same position—regardless of gender—are paid the same wages. Doing otherwise is illegal.”
Image credit: Rawpixel.com/BigStock
Originally published on Patriot Post, December 14, 2017
Open the Books, an organization dedicated to transparency of government spending, tracks and publishes government spending online and serves as one of the largest private databases of government spending in the world. Their motto, “Every dime. Online. In Real Time,” reflects their mission of making government spending transparent and accessible to the public. Open the Books publishes a report every quarter, focusing on an aspect of government spending. Earlier this year, they published an oversight report entitled, “Ivy League, Inc” which reveals the government money and tax privileges granted to the eight colleges of the Ivy League: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University.
The endowments for these universities range from $3.2 billion (Brown) to $35.7 billion (Harvard). As Open the Books Founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski notes in Forbes, “Many pundits describe the Ivy League as ‘a hedge fund with classes.’” Open the Books notes that the combined endowments of the universities ($119.4 billion) could fund a full-ride scholarship for all Ivy undergraduate students for the next 51 years. As a non-profit, the government does not tax the Ivy League school on their endowment earnings. So, they not only operate like a hedge fund, but a hedge fund with tax privileges.
While the Ivy League certainly commits no error in freely raising money from alumni and private donors, the Open the Books report reveals how the Ivy League profits off of taxpayers who pay the Ivy League whether they want to or not. Tracking government payments and entitlements for six years (FY2010-FY2015), Open the Books discovered the total Ivy League cost to taxpayers as $41.9 billion, which is about $6.93 billion per year. This number includes payments, subsidies and special tax treatment. In terms of total government money received, sixteen states (including South Dakota, North Dakota, Hawaii, Utah, Alaska, and Montana) receive less government money per year than the Ivy League does. In other words, entire states take less government money per year than a group of eight universities, each of which have multi-billion-dollar endowments. They don’t need the money, so why are they receiving it?
Lobbying for their interests, seems to be part of the answer. Open the Books reveals that between 2010-2014, the Ivy League spend $17.8 million on lobbying Congress to advocate for their interests. This explains the preference given to the Ivies, and the billions of dollars granted to these institutions in federal contracts, subsidies and tax privileges.
While government grants and contracts make sense in terms of groundbreaking medical research, they don’t make sense in terms of the unnecessary research funded by the American taxpayer. Consider the following grants:
$137,530 from the National Science Foundation to Dartmouth College to fund the making of a video game entitled “Layoff.” In this game, the player must fire employees until he or she receives a bank bailout. In the game, bankers are invincible and cannot be fired.
$53,419 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Brown University to study whether gay men and male sex workers in Mexico City would decrease the number of sex partners and/or use condoms if the government paid them.
$5.7 million from the National Science Foundation to Columbia University to develop a website entitled Future Coast. The website allows visitors to leave voicemails which describe how they think the world will be changed by destructive climate change in the future (2020-2065). Examples include a dwindling Alaska and a California without water.
Most people do not object to private research to fund such projects. If a person wants to develop a video game or study sexual habits and incentives of men in Mexico City or listen to fictional voicemails, why not? But these people should do what the rest of the country does: raise capital, fundraise, and involve their friends. The American taxpayer should not have to shoulder the cost.
In fact, the Ivy League receives more money from their government contract “side gig” ($25.27 billion) than they do from student tuition payments ($22 billion). This begs the question, “Is their government contract “business” a higher priority than their students?”
Further, the Ivy League schools receive an enormous $3.7 billion tax break in local government property taxes. Open the Books estimates that with regard to local property taxes, the Ivy Leagues should be paying approximately $617 million per year. However, due to the lost revenue, residential property taxes in the surrounding areas are 20-30% higher. In the case of Princeton University, residents sued the school, and won a settlement of $18 million.
Ultimately, the Open the Books report on the Ivy League shows taxpayers what has really been happening to their money. While the Ivy League should be able to maintain their status as top universities, the time has come to re-examine how much, if any, government money they should receive.
When we place all the issues facing our country on the table, government money should be prioritized toward keeping our communities safe and encouraging human flourishing, not towards contributing to the billion-dollar corporatism of the Ivy League. They can do that on their own.
Originally published on Patriot Post, December 7, 2017.
Image depicts building on the campus of Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
Image credit: stockedhousestudio/BigStock, Licensed for editorial use.