Comments on Equal Pay

(this is a link from a very liberal website just to show I’m not spewing partisan rhetoric)


For the record, I believe that women should get paid the same amount of money for the same job than men do.

Now that that is out of the way, let me go back to making enemies.

With midterm elections coming up and the American peoples’ faith in the ability of the Democrats to run the country fading, President Obama is looking to whip up his base by talking about “paycheck fairness”. He repeats the misleading claim that women only make 77 cents for every dollar that men make, and claims that this disparity is due to the fact that male employers hate women and therefore don’t want to pay them the same as men. Further complicating the situation is the fact that women working in the White House only make 88 cents for every dollar that men make, so apparently Obama is a prime example of a misogynist employer that he wants to punish. I don’t think that the President is a misogynist, but by his own standards he undoubtably is.

Now on to being logical instead of political.

When scholars look deeper into the supposed pay disparity between men and women, they find that almost all of the difference in pay can be attributed to things such as hours worked, education levels, field of work and other choices that women themselves make about their own life. For example, at my college the finance department is dominated by boys while the teaching and nursing schools are dominated by women. Now despite the fact that nursing and teaching are more valuable to our society than a bunch of financiers, the reality is that the male finance students will end up making more than the female teaching students.

Some claim that even when you account for these types of disparities, the pay gap still exists. That may be true, and it is probably because of the huge elephant in the room for this whole debate- women bear children.

If teaching and nursing may be important for our society, but no job even comes close to the importance of child rearing. But as any parent will attest to, raising kids is hard. Now due to certain biological facts that I shouldn’t have to explain, women take a more central role in raising a child than men do. Because of this, women will often take a break from their career to have a child, and will pursue jobs with flexible hours once the child is born. The side effect of making these decisions is that the types of jobs and careers with this kind of flexibility do not pay as much as other jobs.

But why not just pass fair pay legislation to ensure that when a woman does the exact same job as a man she gets paid the exact same? Because lawyers.

What fair pay legislation does is make it easier for women to sue their employers (under our 50 year old pair pay law) for paying them less than men. The proposed laws make it so that employers are essentially assumed to be guilty of gender discrimination unless they prove that any pay disparities come from factors other than gender (i.e. the opposite of how justice is supposed to work). This is a problem because it encourages more lawsuits against companies, and shifts the burden of proof onto the company instead of the employee. I can accept women being able to sue their employers for discrimination, but the system needs to be set up so that the woman is not encouraged to sue unless she has a strong case, therefore limiting the amount of useless litigation (our country already has a crisis of suing over everything and it takes resources from productive activities in the economy).

In the end this whole paycheck fairness push is just a way to whip up the Democratic base for elections and secure campaign donations from lawyers, who are the only ones that would benefit from all the extra litigation.



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