It was hard to miss that yesterday was Earth Day. Google had an eco-friendly visual.  My kids’ cartoon channel put a little “Earth Day” reminder on the screen. I’m sure many parents with older kids were lectured about the need to recycle and the evils of their SUV when their kids returned from school.

Earth Day isn’t intrinsically a bad idea: we all want the next generation to value nature and respect our natural habitat. Unfortunately, too often Earth Day is used to advance an ideological environmental agenda. Students are forced to watch propaganda like An Inconvenient Truth, and are left scared about how people are destroying the planet and leaving them personally imperiled (a 2008 George Mason survey found that about 2 in 3 children felt global warming is “a threat to my future well-being and safety,” and “feel afraid of what might happen.”) . It doesn’t have to be that way–Earth Day could be a positive force if there was actually balance in classrooms (which is what IWF has been pushing for).

Equal Pay Day is another story. You probably missed it, but the feminist movement regularly declares a day in April (this year, Tuesday, April 20) Equal Pay Day, the day that women can stop working to make up for last year’s wage gap.

I’ve written before about the misuse of this Department of Labor statistic.  Basically, politicians and activist groups take a figure that compares the median income of a full-time working man to the median income of a full-time working woman and claim that the “gap” (the median woman tends to earn between 75 and 80 percent of the man) as evidence that women are paid less for doing the same job as a man, and therefore victims of systemic discrimination.

In reality, on average, women aren’t doing the same jobs as men. Women and men tend to gravitate toward different industries and even specialties within fields.  Women also leave the workforce more frequently than men do, take more time off while working, and even full-time working women spend about a half hour less in the office each day than their male co-workers. These differences add up, and even liberal groups like the American Association of University Women admit that controlling for personal choices eliminates up to three-quarters of the wage gap.

In years past, feminist groups have held demonstrations on Equal Pay Day. This year, it seems they could barely muster up a press release. The “wage gap” hasn’t changed much since 1990, in spite of changes between Republican and Democrat administrations.  The problem must not seem as grave as it did two years ago, now that Democrats control the White House and Congress. Perhaps next year the Republicans will win Congressional majorities and Equal Pay Day will flourish once again.