Wandering Eye: Companies offering coverage for gender reassignment, median wages remain flat, and more

More and more companies are now offering gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments as a part of their employees' health care benefits. That list now includes Facebook, Netflix, Tesla Motors, and 80 other companies that have started to offer the procedures this year—doubling the number of companies providing such benefits since 2012. Needless to say, the benefits have a profound impact on the lives of transgender employees: According to a San Francisco doctor, a full female-to-male transition, for instance, can cost upwards of $150,000, a price tag that too often prevents some transgender individuals from ever feeling remotely comfortable in their own bodies. In addition to, you know, doing the right thing, the inclusion of gender reassignment benefits allows these companies to garner a more diverse staff without significant cost, considering that only one in about 10,000 to 20,000 employees will actually use the coverage per year. (Maura Callahan)


Median wages have been flat since 1973. This is—or should be—a well-known fact. It should have been a scandal beginning in the 1980s, or at least the 1990s. But while it has profoundly shaped the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans, it has been little noted in the national media, and each rediscovery is treated as mysterious news. Here is the Brookings Institution, citing new Census data showing the median income for a full-time working American man has barely changed. The 2014 figure, adjusted for inflation: $50,383. In 1973: $53,294. "The median male worker who was employed year-round and full time earned less in 2014 than a similarly situated worker earned four decades ago. And those are the ones who had jobs." This, despite overall productivity growth of 100 percent. Put another way, if pay had kept up with productivity, and the distribution of pay had stayed the same as it was in the early 1970s, the median wage for a full-time male American would be around $100,000 per year. Women, of course, would fare less well. They currently make around $46,000 per year, up from an inflation-adjusted $30,000 in 1973. So in a flat-pay-for-overall-productivity-gains-since-Nixon scenario, American women's median salary would only be a third higher than it is—$60,000 or so. Quick, someone do a Slate pitch on how the "Global Economy" has been "good for women." (Edward Ericson Jr.)


John Boehner is getting biblical on his way out of the speaker of the House job. On Sunday, the misty-eyed Ohio Republican was asked on "Face The Nation" if members of the extreme right in Congress are "unrealistic about what can be done in government." His response, which The Washington Post deemed an expolsion: "Absolutely, they're unrealistic! But, you know, the Bible says beware of false prophets, and there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done." Referring to a 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare, Boehner said, "The plan never had a chance" but that "We got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town, who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know — they know! — are never going to happen." Maybe meeting the Pope really had an impact. (Brandon Weigel)

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