The old saying goes, figures lie and liars figure. This is never more true than in the debate over the so-called gender pay gap, the allegation that men are paid more than women for the same work because of discrimination. A sure sign that our progressive friends are lying is the moral preening that began soon after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed equal pay for equal work legislation for women. Cue the epic virtue-signaling. Cuomo said, “ by signing this legislation…we are doing the moral thing.” Not to be outdone, Senate Majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said of the champion US women’s soccer team, “…we are reminded that these champions do not make the same that the US men’s team makes.” Here’s the truth: female professional athletes are paid less because women’s sports draw many less fans than men’s sports, resulting in a smaller purse from which the athletes can be paid, and therefore, yes, the women earn less money at this time. Simple as that. Discrimination has nothing to do with it. But honesty and common sense deserted progressives a long time ago.

I fully support equal pay for women. I have a mother, a wife, a sister, several nieces and two granddaughters. I love them and I want the best for them. They work hard and they deserve to be paid what men make for the same work. What I don’t support is using women (or anyone else) as political human shields, which is what progressives always do.

The so-called gender wage gap is calculated by dividing the median income of all men employed full time by the median income of all women employed full time. The result is the endlessly repeated number that women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, or 23% less than men. This number proves nothing (please read on to see why), but that doesn’t stop progressives from robotically repeating it, along with the ugly charge of discrimination. If they were really interested in the truth and not political exploitation, they would ask three questions. Do women really earn 23% less than men and if so why, and where?

When I was in graduate school my professors said: if you want to do research, start with a research question. For example: What laundry detergent gets clothes whitest, Tide or All? To answer the question every variable must be controlled, such as the type of washing machine, water temperature, amount of detergent, and how dirty the clothes are. All these variables must be equalized, and only then can the question be answered with any certainty and honesty.

To answer the wage gap question, we must match subjects. A male physician, for example, is expected to earn more than a female police officer. The expected wage gap between them is due to education and occupation, not discrimination. To see if men are paid more than women you must control for the variables: type of job, education, years of experience and hours worked. There are no controls in the wage gap number, and therefore no one can correctly claim that women make 23% less than men, never mind that the cause for the so-called gap is discrimination.

Comparing all men to all women yields a simplistic number that proves nothing. This comes to us from the “We believe in science” crowd, who are all very keen to call conservatives backward and anti-science. How do they make the number stick in the public mind? They repeat the message ad infinitum. Much of our culture is controlled by progressives; the news media, entertainment, schools and universities are firmly in their hands. They use those levers of power to create myths and make them stick.

Have you noticed that no specific industry or job title is ever identified as a source for the wage gap? Where is it exactly that men are paid more than women for the same work? Is it in government? Highly doubtful. How about major corporations, which are subject to government oversight? Are women accountants, attorneys, doctors or engineers paid a lower hourly rate than their male colleagues? No specifics are ever looked at, because the progressive agenda is not to solve problems, but to score political points and gain power.

Think the progressive argument through for a minute. There must be a lot of people (men) who hate women. The country must be shot through with them. They’re everywhere. Here’s the progressive message in a nutshell: America sucks. That means you suck. But if you want to un-suck, you must agree that Americans meanly and routinely discriminate. You must denounce your fellow citizens for the bigoted creeps they are, and most importantly, vote for progressives. Give them the power they crave, and only then will you will receive absolution.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.