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Single Parenting in the Global Economy

One evening over dinner and some wonderful wine while discussing poverty, I mentioned how the kitchen workers at a local restaurant worked about 14 or more hours a day. My host then countered with the plight of the single mother who cannot do that.

There are many counters to that point typically made by conservatives, but the case of the single mother (especially one abandoned by her husband) is a true problem for radical free market objectivists like me. The reason for the difficulty of the issue is that the child is innocent, yet hurt by the stupidity of the parent(s).

Yet my host’s point brings up another issue that is painful to the most radical left wing feminists – the sexes really are very different and will have very different economic outcomes. The key reason is that only women can bear a child and therefore only women have the choice to do so. As with all choices, there are tradeoffs and costs.

That there are tradeoffs and costs to all choices is an inescapable metaphysical fact. When a woman chooses to bear a child only she can bear the costs; significantly both the time away from the job and the inevitable call on her time and energy after birth. Sorry ladies, but men do not have that choice and consequently cannot bear those costs. Men can never bear the cost personal cost of childbirth, and are not likely, after birth, to be mothers any time soon.

Lakshmi

If we define intelligence as the quantity and density of inter-neural connections in the brain, then I believe women are innately more intelligent than men. For example, brain scans show that women have far more neural connections between the two hemispheres than men.

This is the reason that, in my unscientific opinion, women can multitask better than men. An experiment was conducted in an office environment where participants were given a number of different tasks. The men tended to do only one or two at a time. The women were able to do many more tasks simultaneously. The biggest difference arose when they were interrupted by a telephone call. The men shut everything down to take the call while the women just rolled on.

Women’s superior ability to multitask also comes at a cost. In my again unscientific opinion, men are better able to focus than women because of their relatively fewer hemispheric neural connections making them less susceptible to distractions than women (who always had to keep an ear on the kids at the village). I see this most readily in sports. In billiards women make the same amazingly difficult shots as the men, but they also blow more easy shots than the men.

When Annika Sorenstam played in a men’s PGA Tour event, she performed better than most of the men from tee to green. She was the first to admit that the biggest difference in the men’s game was their superiority in putting and chipping – a thoroughly counterintuitive observation. After the tournament she developed a relationship with Tiger Woods, the greatest putter and chipper ever (the true key to his success on tour) and dramatically improved that part of her game. Ms. Sorenstam then proceeded to smoke the LPGA as no one before.

Putting is purely mental. Every one of us has the physical capacity to sink a three footer. That task is purely a matter of focus and concentration. Like the easy shot in billiards, women blow it more than men. Parenthetically, Tiger Woods had an incredible period of nearly three years without missing a three foot put. He regularly sinks 95% or more of all puts 10 feet or less in his winning efforts. His success is a testimony to the quality of his mind, not his well demonstrated physical prowess. In other words, he is alone in his ability to concentrate on the shot at hand.

That same focus is legendary among great mathematicians like Newton and Archimedes. It was so strong in Archimedes that it cost him his life.

In the economic arena, since men have fewer choices than women, and are hard wired to be competitive and dominant, they will focus and concentrate more on that part of life that involve career, money and power. This is the key reason for that improperly quoted statistic about women only earning 70% or so of what men earn.

Such gross figures are nonsense! If you adjust for the choices women can, and do make, then the difference disappears. In his book, Applied Economics, Thomas Sowell points out the data shows, “Women aged 40 to 64 who have never married, have never had children, are college-educated, and who work full time – earn higher average incomes than men of the same description.” The reason cited by Dr. Sowell is that employers no longer need fear the costs they bear from a worker’s pregnancy and therefore need not rely on general sex based patterns in evaluating current and prospective employees. I would add that these women also did not have to pay the costs of marriage, childbirth and motherhood in time away from work and other distractions.

On the opposite side of the ledger, women should do better than men in management positions. They should make better litigators since, again in my unscientific opinion, they generally will have better linguistic skills and can better read peoples’ emotions than men. After all, back in the prehistoric village, such skill was necessary for survival.

Speaking of reading people, I believe that sometime in the next few decades as poker popularity spreads, the best players will be actresses. They will be superior at reading their opponents for cards they hold combined with the acting skills to prevent others from getting clues about their own cards. That will be a tough combination to beat, even if men will be more focused and aggressive.

Yes, life is unfair, so sue me. Better yet, sue the creator.