One Intersection And One Not

We just finished Kevin D. Williamson’s The Smallest Minority and as we were finishing that up we heard about Clemens Tonnies, the chairman of the Bundesliga soccer team Schalke who was attacked by the social media mobs that Kevin is writing about.  Let’s start with Kevin.

We really enjoyed The Smallest Minority.  Kevin creates some amazing comparisons.  It is hard (probably impossible) to find as literary a political book where Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare are crucial to understanding the text.  It is in turn nasty (Minos was a Cretan, Matthew Yglasias is a cretin), hilarious, insightful and crazy.  Sometimes it is all of those at once.  It is easy to guess who is the mad dog of Mad Dogs and Englishmen.  Be sure to real all the footnotes.  Twice.

Sidebar One: We rarely comment on why folks do things.  Rather we are more interested in what they do.  We are convinced that this book is the real Kevin.  We understand that it is easy to get fooled and that is why we rarely comment on why.  We often wonder why folks behave like they do on TV and radio.  Kevin is really enjoying the conflict about social media.  End Sidebar One.

The backstory is that Kevin was hired by The Atlantic and shortly thereafter fired because of a social media storm.  The book is Kevin’s generalization of the problems with social media.  Kevin is correct when he says we need discourse, a real discussion, to discuss our pressing problems.  Social media gives us anti-discourse.  We get slogans and attacks to stop discussion.  People do it because it works.

The book was a joy to read.  The literary bent, character assassination, and asides are great fun.  The Smallest Minority just didn’t resonate with us.  We didn’t buy the Shakespeare analysis but that wasn’t it.  Twitter, Facebook and other social media just isn’t that important to us. There is a lack of an intersection been MWG and Kevin’s book.  We don’t follow the recommendations to improve the MWG penetration following by tweeting and pictures.  We really appreciate our followers but we blog for our own benefit and so we don’t fill up Facebook (our only social media) with political stuff.  We are not sure social media is that important to the wider world.  Kevin didn’t do much to convince us on that account.

Then came Clemens and Schalke that made more of a connection or intersection for us.  These events didn’t completely change our mind but they did make us reconsider.  Here is  a summary of what happened:

Many fans had been calling on the 63-year-old [Clemens] Tönnies to resign over the comments he made on Aug. 1, when he told a public meeting in Paderborn that tax increases to fight climate change were wrong and claimed it was better to finance 20 power plants a year in Africa.

“Then the Africans would stop cutting down trees, and they would stop making babies when it gets dark,” Tönnies said in comments first reported by the Neue Westfälische local newspaper.

Tönnies, Schalke chairman since 2001, apologized for his comments

Of course, Clemens has stepped on at least three third rails of social media.  First, he fought climate change recommendations.  Second, he talked about Africa and (gasp) Africans.  Third, he apologized to try and sate the mob.  They cannot be sated.

OK, he is not exactly right.  What Africa needs is capitalism and Germany could use a little more.  Here is part of a story on Tanzania:

The real cause of that reduction is pretty straightforward: economic freedom. Tanzania has gradually dismantled the socialist or “ujamaa” economic policies enacted by the dictator Julius Nyerere, since he stepped down in 1985. Nyerere was widely praised by leftist intellectuals in developed countries for his sincere belief in socialism, relatively low level of corruption, and not intentionally slaughtering his own people like so many other dictators.

Dang. We got rid of the tab before we made the link and now we can’t find it.  To get back to Clemens, we agree with him that tax increases to fight climate change don’t make sense in Germany or elsewhere.  We also agree with him that economic improvement in Africa would be a good thing and it will require carbon emissions.

Sidebar Two: We have argued that a revenue neutral carbon tax that eliminates the gas tax is a good idea.  It is not a tax increase.  Sidebar Two.

Africa could use more and better power.  Our first priority would be economic structure rather than actual structures but Clemens has a reasonable idea.   Reducing the cutting down of trees is probably a good idea a way for Clemens to try to connect with the climate change folks.  It is not unreasonable to argue for more trees.  He spoke of the number of African babies.  So what are the fertility rates in African countries?  Glad you asked:

The vast majority of the countries in the world with the highest fertility rates are in Africa, with Nigertopping the list at 7.153 children per woman, followed by Somalia at 6.123 children per woman. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Chad follow at 5.963, 5.922 and 5.797 children per woman, respectively.

So the top five countries in term of fertility are all African.  Germany, on the other hand, has a fertility rate of 1.586.  We are not convinced that overpopulation is a problem but the climate change folks often suggest it is.  Clemens is using their rhetoric against them.  They should respond rather than call him names but, as Kevin points out, a name calling ochlocracy is effective in silencing people these days.

The Clemens story has not made fighting the ochlocracy a front-burner item for us yet. We could be trending in that direction.



Math Is Math But

We were already convinced that the US Women’s National Team earned more than the men based on their performance.  John Hirschauer at NRO links to Carlos Cordeiro, the head of US Soccer who gives us the details.  The headline is

Over the past decade, U.S. Soccer has paid our Women’s National Team more than our Men’s National Team.  From 2010 through 2018, U.S. Soccer paid our women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million—not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women’s players receive but which our men do not.

The part we found most interesting is it turns out that the women have negotiated a very different contract than the men.  As we have pointed out before, an important reason for this is that club soccer can pay extraordinarily well for men but not for women.  US Soccer has chosen to support US women’s club soccer in two ways.  First,

U.S. Soccer also pays WNT contracted players a $67,500-$72,500 salary for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League.(In contrast, we do not pay salaries for men who play in Major League Soccer or any other men’s professional league)

Second, they pay benefits like health care etc. for women but not for men.  Why do the women negotiate this and the men don’t?  You know why, it is the different market for men and women in club soccer.  According to this (we can’t find a date) the lowest paid starting player in the Premiership is 3,600 British pounds per week.  Here are the average Premiership team salaries for 2018/19 in dollars.  They are annual salaries in millions of dollars and range from $1.26 at Cardiff (which was relegated) to Manchester United at $8.6.  The big money for men is getting to play for the big teams in the big leagues.  On the women’s side, the US federation, and probably other ones, support the club teams.

There is no reason for the government to be involved in this.


We are experimenting with changing our video watching system.  After a couple of decades (yes, we are conservative in a myriad of ways) on DirecTV we are trying out a variety of apps tied into Amazon Fire TV.  We figure the worst outcome is that DirecTV will be cheaper when we come back a year from now.  One of the reasons that we made the switch is that Shetland season five (the TV series not the place, about 100 miles north of the Scottish mainland) is exclusively on Britbox.

Sidebar One: Britbox is cheap and has interesting stuff but to get some of the historical stuff like the earlier seasons of Shetland you need another app, Acorn, which is fairly cheap too but it was disappointing that we needed to pay twice.  End Sidebar One.

Shetland, the TV series, is one of the great shows on TV.  Wikipedia tells us we are not alone in our opinion:

Douglas Henshall won the 2016 BAFTA Scotlandaward for best actor for his role as Jimmy Perez, and the series received the award for Best TV Drama.

It is based on the books by Ann Cleaves who also is responsible for Vera that you can see on Britbox too.  We enjoyed the Shetland books but not so much the Vera books or the Vera show.  Shetland the first time we can remember we liked the video better than the books. There are substantial changes from the books so if you can’t abide by that then skip the show.

It is a great show because it does so many things and some of them are unexpected.  The most unexpected is giving us a hero in Jimmy Perez.

Sidebar Two: How does a person with a surname like that show up on Shetland?  Jimmy’s ancestor was part of the Spanish Armada (1588) that was shipwrecked on Shetland (or was it Fair Isle?) centuries ago.  End Sidebar Two.

Jimmy is John Wayne in a John Ford Western.  He is a brave, courageous loner that shares the stardom with the scenery.  About five times a show we think that we really, really need to go to Shetland.  Today, most shows are about how damaged the protagonist is.  Jimmy is not flawless but he is a good guy.

It is also a procedural.  They look at the decisions that folks, and especially the police, make and how difficult those decisions are. Everybody, white or black, male or female, gets put under the microscope.  It is thought provoking rather than PC.

It has interesting characters and excellent writing.  You will want to watch it several times when Jimmy compares Duncan to the attempts of the Scottish national team to qualify for the World Cup.  It is amazing and unexpected.

It would be better to watch all five seasons in sequence but you could watch season five first and still figure stuff out.  Either way Shetland is worth watching.  Enjoy!

Women’s Soccer Success

We are used to being insulted by Bill Clinton but today’s insult by Allysia Finley was disappointing because she is a member of the WSJ Editorial Board.  She is writing about soccer and Why U.S. Women Rule The World.  The sub headline says America’s democratic ideals deserve the credit for America’s soccer superiority.  The sub is wrong but Allysia is right by imprecise when she says:

Girls in the U.S. are encouraged to play multiple sports. That prevents burnout and helps them develop a range of athletic skills. [Emphasis added]

She leaves it oddly passive on who is doing the encouraging.  She does note that promising athletes are captured by federations or teams in other countries.  In the U.S. it is their families and the organizations they create.  She gets the emphasis all wrong when she says:

Hundreds of thousands of girls play for high-school teams (and some in travel leagues), and colleges recruit the top thousand or so.

We would like to see her data on the item in bold.  We are willing to bet that every woman on the US national team played on a travel team and that at least 900 of the college 1,000 played on a traveling team.  Note that anyone growing up outside the US is not included in our estimates.  Again, this is their families.

Then comes the insult.  We used to hear it from Bill Clinton but Allysia has softened it some by emphasizing college athletics and she could make sense of it.  We will help her out.  First she says:

One reason is the 1972 civil-rights law Title IX, which effectively requires colleges to provide an equal number of athletic scholarships to men and women. The law has forced schools to reduce men’s athletic programs like wrestling, but it has encouraged more girls to participate in sports.

Here is how she could make sense of it.  Families and non-govermental organizations take care of the soccer player (and several other sports) until age 18.  The government has acted to help them after age 18 by giving women more scholarships and denying them to men.  This helps the the US Soccer team because there isn’t a market mechanism for women in soccer.  There is a market mechanism for men in many, but not all, sports.

Where do US women rule besides soccer?  Swimming and gymnastics come to mind.  Here is a list of the top 15 men and women swimmers by gold medals.  Eight of the 15 women are from the U.S.  The men do even better.  Where do we see the most families and traveling teams?  You know.

More On World Cup Pay Comparisons

A.G. Hamilton at the Corner on NRO concurs with us on the World Cup pay comparisons and adds more data.  We checked on about the author and found: A. G. Hamilton is the pseudonym of a licensed attorney.  That makes personal pronouns difficult.  Of course you should educate yourself by reading it all but here is a taste of it with A.G.’s conclusion:

Almost everyone who read about this topic from mainstream press sources came away with the impression that the women’s teams were being treated unfairly in the World Cup despite the numbers clearly telling a different story. That’s a problem with the press, not discriminatory pay.

You will notice that we left it to you to find the relevant data from A.G..

More World Cup Economics

We are still celebrating the US Women winning the Women’s World Cup.  And there is lots of stuff about equal pay that we dispensed with yesterday.  Today we want to look a couple of more things: equal pay by team and incentives to keep playing for the national team.  We have a research project for some enterprising sports economics researcher ready to go.

It appears that all members of each national team are paid equally.  They are not equally talented.  Lots is published about men’s club salaries and we know that that soccer salaries, like all major sports, vary widely.  Here are the top twenty earners from 2018 according to Forbes.  The salaries range (they also have endorsements) from Messi’s $84 million to a measly $15.5 for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  There is lots of inequality among the top twenty on the men’s side as there is down the list.  The woman’s list (this one from 2016) has much smaller numbers but substantial variation.  If the reports that all team members are paid equally including bonuses is correct then the unused goalies on the US women’s team are among the highest paid female soccer players in the world.  On the other hand, for Messi the salary impact (the endorsements impact might be a big deal) using US incentives would be trivial.

The research project becomes a comparison of the incentives to men versus women to play on their national team.  There are incentives other than financial to play for the national team.  Do the financial incentives cause men to retire from national teams earlier than women?  Is it different for great players?  There are many parameters to consider but we don’t want to do all the work but it looks like an interesting project.

2019 Women’s World Cup

The USA has won the 2019 Women’s World Cup (WWC) for the second consecutive time and the fourth time over all.  The have been eight WWC and the USA has four golds, a silver, and three bronzes.  We have team to be proud of.

There has been much talk about equal pay for the US national teams.  Here is a story from Business Insider (BI) published a few years ago with some details.  It appears that a chant for equal pay broke out after the USA won the WWC final against the Dutch.  What is the rationale for such a recommendation?  Is it equal pay for equal work?  No, none of the women would make the men’s team.  Is it revenue generation?  Perhaps. The WWC does get high TV ratings in the US.

As of 2017, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final was the most watched football  [soccer] match in American history with nearly 23 million viewers,[25] more than the 2015 NBA Finals and Stanley Cup.[26] It was also the most watched Spanish-language broadcast in tournament history.[25] More than 750 million viewers were reported to have watched the tournament worldwide.

The total revenue, however, generated by the WWC is minuscule compared to the World Cup.  The same Wikipedia item tells us:

The 2015 Women’s World Cup generated almost $73 million, the 2018 men’s tournament generated an estimated $6.1 billion in revenue. [Emphasis added]

We could find similar numbers for club soccer.  It doesn’t seem that you would get far towards equal pay using revenue generated as a rationale.  As a related issue, the national team can outbid clubs for women but not men.

The success of the women’s team is more reasonable argument for equal pay.  It appears from the BI story (we expect all the prices have gone up) that the US men’s and women’s teams do earn about the same.  The US women win almost all of their matches.  The US men do not.  The US women win the WWC.  The men didn’t even qualify to the last one and have won eight of their 32 matches in the World Cup.  So, using the BI chart, and saying that the women win 20 and the WWC and the men go ten and ten and miss the WC then the men get $182 K and the women get $174 K.  We could argue about the exact details and they are different than they were in 2016 but the structure looks close to right to us.