Michael Barone - Clinton effort to close pay gap would just make it larger

Women, lamented Hillary Clinton in an April 2014 tweet, make just 77 cents on the dollar to men. As a presidential candidate she has repeated that lament again and again, updating the numbers, in line with government statistics, to 78 cents in July 2015 and 79 cents this year.

This injustice, she says, must be remedied by government. "Last time I checked," Clinton told an event sponsored by a salary-site called Glassdoor, "there's no discount for being a woman. Groceries don't cost us less, rent doesn't cost us less, so why should we be paid less?"

There is, as you might expect, a simple answer for that, which is that the 77 to 79 cents numbers are misleading. Women are being paid less than men almost entirely because, as my Washington Examiner colleague Ashe Schow writes, "The average working woman works in a lower-paying field and works fewer hours each week than the average working man."

Don't just take her word for it. Listen to Obama staffer Betsey Stevenson, a respected academic economist. "Seventy-seven cents captures the annual earnings of full-time, full-year women divided by the earnings of full-time, full-year men," she said when pressed by questions from the White House press corps. "If I said 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke."

It's actually been illegal to pay women less than men for the same work since Congress passed a law to that effect in 1963 — 53 years ago. Any employer who does so is inviting a lawsuit, which most small businesses can't afford, and courting a negative reputation, which any large business abhors.

Clinton's use of statistics that are misleading (as Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler concluded) is in service of an argument that as president she will break down barriers that are holding women back. That's part of her strategy to reassemble Barack Obama's 51 percent 2012 coalition by promising to break down barriers to upward mobility.

The argument is based on an assumption that every identifiable group would be equally represented in every stratum of society, absent the barriers erected by patriarchal white males. Such appeals have the political advantage of being always available. Beyond Lake Wobegon, some identifiable group will always have a tendency to rank lower than average in something.

The problem is that, if patriarchally erected barriers aren't the reason for disparate data, it will be hard to deliver on promises that things will be different if they're battered down. And policies that are supposed to do that may turn out to have the opposite of the intended effect.

Consider last week's front page Wall Street Journal story headlined, "Women in elite jobs face stubborn wage gap," and contain your outrage at injustices like the female M.D. who makes only $303,000 compared to her husband's $364,000. The reporter's suggested cure for this injustice? More men need to take paternity leave and do additional housework.

Which is to say, the gap results not from institutional barriers but from personal choices, which tend to be rooted in biology. Science — we all respect science, don't we? — tells us men and women are different. Only women give birth and, it turns out, they're more likely to take parental leave and choose work that requires limited and definite hours, and which, accordingly, pays less.

Note that these decisions are being made by people who grew up when most women worked outside the home and who attended female-majority colleges and graduate schools. Such women know they have choices, and they tend to choose to trade away income for family time. That's a rational choice, even if it means never being CEO.

Hillary Clinton's solutions for equalizing pay — "flexible scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days" — tend to encourage women to take time off from work, which in turn tends toward lower lifetime earnings. That's certainly been the effect in Scandinavia, where such policies have been carried farthest. The effect, Swedish scholar Nima Sanandaji writes, is that "many women work, but seldom in the private sector and seldom enough hours to reach the top."

The fact is that the barriers Clinton thinks are holding women back mostly came down years ago. Her continuing battle against 1950s norms may inspire women of a certain age. But it doesn't ring true for millennial women, who have been voting overwhelmingly against her in Democratic primaries. Misleading statistics, it turns out, don't make good politics.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Froma Harrop - Cure for very expensive cities is moving vans

A funny thing didn't happen on the way to the digital revolution. It failed to empty out the cities. If knowledge workers could communicate from anywhere, the futurists figured, why would they subject themselves to the traffic and noise of urban life? They could easily move their screens to a mountain chalet, beach house or Mediterranean cafe.

The opposite happened. Instead of spreading out, many members of the "creative class" scrunched themselves into a handful of acres in a few select cities. As a result, housing prices have exploded in London, New York and San Francisco — and are rising fast in Boston, Seattle, Denver and other centers for tech and finance. The elite apparently want to be around good restaurants, high-end shopping and other elites.

And so what happens to the longtime residents of modest means and new arrivals serving the gentry's needs? When an influx of genius coders pushes small-apartment rents into the thousands, working families of four get pushed out.

The solution to the high cost of shelter is to increase the supply, say some economists, real estate interests and politicians owned by the real estate interests. In cities bounded by water, that means increasing population density.

That can be part of the answer. Some decaying industrial areas may be ripe for new development. But here's the problem: Many of the most desirable urban neighborhoods are desirable precisely for their quirky small houses and low-slung apartment buildings. Local shops and restaurants line their main streets. Replace these structures with a forest of sterile towers and you destroy what made these areas valuable in the first place.

Zeroing in on London, The Economist blames "faulty land-use regulation" for the city's high cost of housing. It prescribes building on the "green belt," which was created to preserve open space around the central city — and scoffs at rules protecting views of the iconic St. Paul's Cathedral. (Guess only the penthouses would have the views.)

Like much of the "build, baby, build" crowd, the magazine parades its agenda behind the banner of diversity and fighting income inequality. Well, let's ask. Would turning our old cities into soulless Singapores make these places more affordable?

The Economist complains that population density in central London is only half that of New York. Thing is, the rent for a centrally located one-bedroom apartment is 22 percent higher in New York than in London. In hot real estate markets, increasing supply can also hike demand.

For example, building booms in Williamsburg and other gentrifying parts of Brooklyn have attracted more moneyed people while leveling the tenements where poorer folk used to live.

There are remedies for the high cost of housing. One is to move elsewhere. It could be to a lesser neighborhood or nearby town served by public transportation. (Clamor against high rents tends to focus on upscale districts.)

And don't forget the other great metropolises in this vast land of ours. Columbus, Omaha, Nashville, Baton Rouge and Spokane, to name a few, cost a lot less. They have great bars, hip districts and housing to die for.

As for the lower-income residents who remain in expensive cities, one fix is to pay them commensurate with the cost of living. A $15-an-hour minimum wage in the pricier locales makes total sense.

In sum, the notion that only a handful of ZIP codes can quench 21st-century ambitions is strange. The technology that lets Cleveland make video calls to Honolulu ought to be used. As for mingling, there's now a Starbucks everywhere.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Pat Buchanan - Who's the conservative heretic?

In his coquettish refusal to accept the Donald, Paul Ryan says he cannot betray the conservative "principles" of the party of Abraham Lincoln, high among which is a devotion to free trade.

But when did free trade become dogma in the Party of Lincoln?

As early as 1832, young Abe declared, "My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a national bank ... and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles."

Campaigning in 1844, Lincoln declared, "Give us a protective tariff and we will have the greatest nation on earth."

Abe's openness to a protective tariff in 1860 enabled him to carry Pennsylvania and the nation. As I wrote in "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy" in 1998: "The Great Emancipator was the Great Protectionist."

During his presidency, Congress passed and Abe signed 10 tariff bills. Lincoln inaugurated the Republican Party tradition of economic nationalism.

Vermont's Justin Morrill, who shepherded GOP tariff bills through Congress from 1860 to 1898, declared, "I am for ruling America, for the benefit, first, of Americans, and for the 'rest of mankind' afterwards."

In 1890, Republicans enacted the McKinley Tariff that bore the name of that chairman of ways and means and future president. "Open competition between high-paid American labor and poorly paid European labor," warned Cong. William McKinley, "will either drive out of existence American industry or lower American wages."

Too few Republicans of McKinley's mindset sat in Congress when NAFTA and MFN for China were being enacted.

In the 1895 "History of the Republican Party," the authors declare, "the Republican Party ... is the party of protection ... that carries the banner of protection proudly."

Under protectionist policies from 1865 to 1900, U.S. debt was cut by two-thirds. Customs duties provided 58 percent of revenue. Save for President Cleveland's 2 percent tax, which was declared unconstitutional, there was no income tax. Commodity prices fell 58 percent. Real wages, despite a doubling of the population, rose 53 percent. Growth in GDP averaged over 4 percent a year. Industrial production rose almost 5 percent a year.

The U.S. began the era with half of Britain's production, and ended it with twice Britain's production.

In McKinley's first term, the economy grew 7 percent a year. After his assassination, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took over. His reaction to Ryan's free-trade ideology? In a word, disgust. "Pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce fatty degeneration of the moral fibre," wrote the Rough Rider, "I thank God I am not a free trader."

When the GOP returned to power after President Wilson, they enacted the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922. For the next five years, the economy grew 7 percent a year.

While the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, signed eight months after the Crash of '29, was blamed for the Depression, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman ferreted out the real perp, the Federal Reserve.

Every Republican platform from 1884 to 1944 professed the party's faith in protection. Free trade was introduced by the party of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Our modern free-trade era began with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Among the eight no votes in the Senate were Barry Goldwater and Prescott Bush.

Even in recent crises, Republican presidents have gone back to the economic nationalism of their Grand Old Party. With the Brits coming for our gold and Japanese imports piling up, President Nixon in 1971 closed the gold window and imposed a 10 percent tariff on Japanese goods.

Ronald Reagan slapped a 50 percent tariff on Japanese motorcycles being dumped here to kill Harley-Davidson, then put quotas on Japanese auto imports, and on steel and machine tools.

Reagan was a conservative of the heart. Though a free trader, he always put America first.

What, then, does history teach?

The economic nationalism and protectionism of Hamilton, Madison, Jackson, and Henry Clay, and the Party of Lincoln, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Coolidge, of all four presidents on Mount Rushmore, made America the greatest and most self-sufficient republic in history.

And the free-trade, one-worldism of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama enabled Communist China to shoulder us aside us and become the world's No. 1 manufacturing power.

Like Britain, after free-trade was adopted in the mid-19th century, when scribblers like David Ricardo, James Mill and John Stuart Mill, and evangelists like Richard Cobden dazzled political elites with their visions of the future, America has been in a long steady decline.

If we look more and more like the British Empire in its twilight years, it is because we were converted to the same free-trade faith that was dismissed as utopian folly by the men who made America.

Where in the history of great nations — Britain before 1850, the USA, Bismarck's Germany, postwar Japan and China today — has nationalism not been the determinant factor in economic policy?

Speaker Ryan should read more history and less Ayn Rand.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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Susan Estrich - This is real

This is not a television show.

This is not one of those audience response things that measure how loudly we scream and or how many balls we throw.

No, this is our democracy, of Presidents Washington and Jefferson and Madison and Jackson and Lincoln and Roosevelt and, yes, Reagan and Obama.

And Donald Trump?


Is there anyone who doesn't know, really know, that it isn't right?

Listen to their arguments: It's okay to elect an unqualified megalomaniac neo-fascist with no experience in government who openly insults and stereotypes the very people who we have protected as equals because, after all, what can he really do anyway?

Sorry, but what an unbelievably stupid argument. We should elect someone to the most powerful position on the face of the earth, with the power to destroy the earth as we know it, because, what the heck, it doesn't matter?

It does matter. At least accept responsibility. If you want to elect a qualified idiot as our president, then you have a right to do that under the Constitution. But you don't have the right to convince anyone it doesn't matter.

It's bad enough that Democrats have to deal with the ardent "Bernie lovers," most of whom, like Bernie Sanders, are brand-new members of the party and have not yet had the fun of living through losing. I have, and I promise, really, they haven't missed a thing. However, I sympathize with their passion. I had all that "heart and soul" of the Democratic Party back in 1980 when Democrats were divided between those who thought Ronald Reagan couldn't win and those who thought he couldn't lose. Anyway, he won, and I don't think anyone would say the troublemaking I was so proud of at the convention (I had 44 minority reports, Bernie-ites) in any way aided his performance. On the other hand as, as Bill Clinton once consoled me, the advantage of a landslide is that nothing you did, or could have done, mattered.

Useful advice for life: Don't sweat the big stuff — unless you can control it.

I know the "Freakonomics" tale of the two embarrassed economists who meet at the polling place only to immediately blame their wives for forcing them to go. Voting, Florida 2000 notwithstanding, is not a very efficient use of time; no single vote has more than an infinitesimal chance of mattering. And yet, it has always been for me the magic of democracy, the symphony in which all these strange sounding instruments come together to make magic. And it's a symphony we can control.

What is striking is how often it comes out all right. It's such a messy process — on a Tuesday no less, who would hold an election on a Tuesday if you wanted people to come — and it's just not just an election, but first there are these odd things called caucuses and, almost as strange, the open, and closed and half-open, half-closed primaries on different dates in the same state, and once you get through all that, you get two candidates, generally, either of whom, however much you may loathe their positions, is at least theoretically qualified to be president. It's one of those "reasonable people can disagree" things.

Except this time. We should've got John Kasich or Jeb Bush, at least Marco Rubio. What are we doing with Trump? And more to the point, how do we ensure that whatever went so very wrong in the Republican primaries doesn't repeat itself in the general elections?

Only this: by taking it as seriously as it is.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

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Sanborn — Permits, permits, permits

Let's talk about permits. There are a lot of different permits related to real estate. It is pretty obvious that if you are going to build a new house you have to go to your town or municipality and get the necessary building permits. The town wants to make sure everything is done to code and constructed correctly. Some people think requiring permits is just a way for the town to butt into your business, raise money, and annoy you – which they probably will do – but it really is all about your safety. You don't want your home falling down, structurally unsafe, or burning down around you some night from improperly installed wiring or heating devices. That's why permits are issued and plumbers and electricians need licenses. Buyers want to know that any work done on a home was permitted, done correctly, and inspected. Sounds fair, right?

What about renovations? You are also going to need permits to do renovations around the house like adding a room, building a deck, remodeling a bathroom, putting in a wood stove, taking out a wall and, yes, finishing off your basement. The general rule of thumb is that structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical work will require a permit. If you are dealing with a reputable contractor to do the work, he will know what is required for permits.

But, you'd be amazed how many times real estate agents run across homes with fully finished basements and the town tax card lists the basement as unfinished. Now what? The seller's property disclosure has a question on it where the seller is required to answer whether he or she got all the necessary permits for any work to be done on the property. Sometimes the homeowners didn't know that a permit was required because they did the work themselves piecemeal over time and never gave it a thought. A trip down to the local building department to set the record straight and perhaps get an inspection and permit after the fact is my preferred approach to keeping everyone out of trouble in these cases.

Septic permits and plans are another important piece of paperwork to have whether buying or selling. It is nice to have the proof of when the septic system was built and that it was installed properly and inspected. Occasionally I see "construction approval" permits on file but there is no "operational approval" indicating that the State inspector never saw the system before it was covered over. Some systems were built prior to the State approval process and are still in use today. That's okay as long as the system isn't failing but its longevity might not be all that good. A septic inspection will help clarify the situation and is an extremely important part of the home purchase process. Any septic repairs done recently should have been permitted and as a buyer you'll want to make sure you see the documentation.

Another big permitting issue these days is waterfront Shoreland Permits and dock permits. Any work done on the shore front recently should have had a permit to cover the work done. If there is a permanent dock or boathouse on the property, you'll want to see a permit or proof that the dock or structure is "grandfathered." I like that term. The rules about waterfront structures and docks have changed over the years and our grandfathers did a lot of things that we couldn't get away with today! God love 'em. If a dock, boathouse, or deck on the shoreline was in place in 1969 it is "grandfathered" no matter what the size, shape, or configuration. They really did some pretty cool stuff before Big Brother got involved.

So if you are selling your home, make sure you have permits available for any work you've done recently to give to your agent. A copy of your septic plan and lot survey are pretty helpful, too. The more information you can provide to a buyer the better. If you are going to purchase a home and the seller doesn't have any documents available, you can check with the local building department to see if there is anything on file. Weather permitting, of course.

There were 89 residential homes sales in April in the 12 Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average sales price came in at $352,884 and the median price point was $220,000. That's a lot better than the total of 63 homes sold last April an average price of $341,682.

P​lease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of May 15, 2016. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 677-7012

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