Equal pay for equal work means paying men more: though it is often claimed that men make more money than women, once experience, hours worked, and job types are figured in, men's and women's wages are comparable.
Not surprisingly, WhiteHouse.gov has a page dedicated to the issue entitled "Your Right to Equal Pay," which touts Obama's support for the "Paycheck Fairness Act"; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill the president signed into law; and he recently issued two executive orders addressing pay, one of which compels the Labor Department to collect data on federal contract workers' compensation, based on race and sex.
Yet as Republicans point out, Obama is hypocritical on this issue because his White House pays its women staffers only 88 cents on its men staffers' dollar. In fact, as American Thinker's Dr. Warren Beatty wrote in "Democratic 'Equal Pay' Hypocrisy," "For all Democrat Senate staffers, men made an average of $5,500 more annually than women," with avowed socialist Bernie Sanders being the worst "offender." My, we men just can't resist discriminating against the fairer sex, can we--even when we're pedal-to-the-metal progressives? Or could there be another reason for the pay gap?
When saying that women earn 77 percent of what men do, Obama is factual --in a way. While the Census Bureau did find a 77/100 female-male wage gap in 2012, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)--which uses a different formula for calculation--now says it is 82/100.
And if you consider hourly rates the gap shrinks to 86/100, according to BLS data. (Perhaps this is another good reason not to have unconstitutional, rabble-rousing federal bureaucracies duplicating each other's tasks.) However you crunch the numbers, though, a little more truth came out in the political crunch when the White House defended its pay regime. As Major Garrett reported on the April 8 edition of CBS This Morning, "The White House said its gender pay gap is tied to job experience, education, and hours worked, among other factors. This matters because those explanations, according to the Labor Department, explain a good deal of the gender pay gap nationally." And Obama's defense is believable; after all, were the White House's intersex pay gap not due to legitimate market factors, Obama could eliminate the political liability that is his hypocrisy with his favored stroke-of-a-pen governance. But how significant are these market factors really?
So significant that what is "wrong," and what should be an "embarrassment," is Obama's rhetoric. And a good place to start refuting it is with journalist Carrie Lukas' 2007 piece "A Bargain At [sic] 77 Cents To a Dollar," in which she called the 77-cent battle cry the "most misused" of (erstwhile?) Labor Department statistics and wrote:
In truth, I'm the cause of the wage gap--I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I've made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I'm not making as much money as I could, but I'm compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for.
Lukas' analysis is neither anecdotal nor dated. First, while analyses often compare men and women working full time, not all "full-time" is equally full. As the Wall Street Journal s Mark J. Perry and Andrew G. Biggs wrote last month in "The '77 Cents on the Dollar' Myth About Women's Pay":
Men were almost twice as likely as women to work more than 40 hours a week, and women almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week. Once that is taken into consideration, the pay gap begins to shrink. Women who worked a 40-hour week earned 88% of male earnings. Then there is the issue of marriage and children. The BLS reports that single women who have never married earned 96% of men's earnings in 2012. The supposed pay gap appears when marriage and children enter the picture. Child care takes mothers out of the labor market, so when they return they have less work experience than similarly-aged males. Many working mothers seek jobs that provide greater flexibility, such as telecommuting or flexible hours. Not all jobs can be flexible, and all other things being equal, those which are will pay less than those that [are] not.
(In keeping with this, studies have also shown that women are more likely than men to turn down promotions citing familial responsibilities.) Cementing this point in a 2012 "Truth-O-Meter" article stating that an Obama equal-pay ad "takes a solid statistic [what I'll henceforth call "Myth 77"] and describes it incorrectly," PolitiFact wrote, "Men have typically held their jobs longer than women in the same position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men in 2010 who were between 45 and 54 years old had a median job tenure of 8.5 years, compared to 7.1 years for women in the same age group."
But it isn't just how long men and women hold their jobs, but what they choose to hold in the first place. As Politi-Fact's Truth-O-Meter pointed out in a January piece analyzing Obama's State of the Union Myth 77 maneuvering:
Men and women historically enter certain fields more than others--a phenomenon known as "occupational segregation." Women more often choose to be receptionists, nurses and teachers, while men pursue paths as truck drivers, managers and computer software engineers, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. When data from all these fields is combined together, as in the Census and BLS studies, the gap is at least partially explained by the predominance of women in lower-paying fields, rather than women necessarily being paid less for the same job than men are. In addition, women disproportionately obtain degrees that lead to lower-paying jobs than men.
For sure. Where women are more likely to major in "soft sciences," such as psychology and sociology and even fields such as "Women's Studies," men tend toward the hard sciences; in fact, the disparity is great enough that statists have proposed applying Title IX dictates to the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) to artificially equalize the sex ratio in them.
Moreover, as Perry and Biggs also point out, "Males are more likely to pursue occupations where compensation is risky from year to year, such as law and finance." And speaking of risk, men dominate the ranks of virtually all the most dangerous jobs, which have to pay more in order to attract workers. Yet we see neither feminists encouraging women to be lumberjacks, iron workers, or Alaskan king crab fishermen nor politicians proposing social engineering to achieve equality in work-related death--an area in which 92 percent of the victims are men.
There is also a contradiction evident here. On the one hand, statists will claim that business is greedy and only cares about the bottom line, strenuously trying to squeeze every penny from an endeavor; on the other they tacitly assert that even though these Scrooge businessmen could, apparently, get employees (women) who do the "same work" for less pay--saving 23 percent--they nonetheless will hire "more expensive" men. I guess that's the price you pay to be able to emit a devilish laugh while fiendishly rubbing your hands together and contemplating the blow you struck for the patriarchy.
Of course, what is actually going on here is that we have a market that, insofar as it isn't trumped, rewards merit--and people who don't like this when the "wrong" groups excel. Why, for instance, is there focus on only Myth 77 when it's also true that Jews earn more than gentiles, and homosexuals more than straight people, and a 2012 Pew study found that Hindus were the highest-earning religious group in the United States? There are three main reasons. While it's fashionable to attack live white males almost as much dead ones, implying that these other wage gaps are unjust would get you branded a bigot. Second, leftist dogma states that advantages enjoyed by "victim" groups can never be due to discrimination. As an example, a few years ago I had a radio debate on "white privilege" with a man who had a Ph.D. in "ethnic studies." After he cited as proof of this privilege the fact that whites earn more than minorities, I put him on the spot by asking him if, since Jews earn more as well, he would begin campaigning against "Jewish privilege." His response?
The higher earnings cannot be attributable to privilege because we "know" that Jews suffer discrimination.
It was circular reasoning: His thesis was that higher incomes were proof of his leftist dogma--except when his leftist dogma decreed that higher incomes weren't.
The last reason is that there is little political downside for Democrats when attacking men; it fires up their feminist base, their public-relations team--the U.S. media--won't beat a "War on Men" drum, and men aren't one of their constituencies, anyway. But Jews, homosexuals, and Hindus vote Democrat by wide margins--and you don't attack your own phalanx.
The truth is that the male/female wage-gap focus is completely arbitrary. Consider, for instance, the issue of how politically correct forces once lobbied for women tennis players to receive the same prize money as the men. It was a masterful exercise in propaganda: "The women play the same sport, so they deserve the same money!" was the cry. But do we complain that lightweight boxers don't earn as much as heavyweights? Why not? They have to endure blows; they still can suffer brain damage. The answer is that they get paid less because they're less marketable; people prefer watching the big boys. But they do have recourse. If they want the heavyweights' money, all they need do is fight, and succeed, in the heavyweight ranks. Likewise, if female tennis players want the men's money, they should try passing muster on the men's tour. To do otherwise is to request equal pay for unequal work, in that both lightweight boxers and female athletes have separate and unequal arenas--protected from the best competition--in which to compete. And, of course, if the Equality Police truly cared about intersex equality, they would advocate elimination of women's tours, leagues, and teams instead of, in a striking but mostly unnoticed contradiction, basing a plea for more money on an equality argument while accepting an inherently unequal system.
Yet even this misses the point. For whatever constitutes "equal" work, it has nothing to do with equal or exceptional pay. The top 10 female fashion models earn 10 times what their male counterparts do, yet it isn't because they're "better." And is a millionaire rapper better than a top-notch classical musician earning a relative pittance? Likewise, heavyweight boxers and male athletes don't earn more because they're better, either; this is merely an indirect cause. It's no doubt a major reason people prefer watching them, but the direct factor in their higher income, as with female fashion models, is that they satisfy the market more.
You might think that citing the true reasons behind the pay gap--the sexes' different educational, career, and lifestyle choices--would end the discussion. But leftists have a response: Those choices themselves are due to discriminatory conditioning, to society's sex stereotyping and suppression of girl-power gusto. But as an excellent Norwegian documentary entitled The Gender Equality Paradox (GEP) explains, this is simply untrue.
After pointing out that even in 2011 Norway virtually all nurses are women and most every engineer is a man, the GEP outlined research indicating a strong biological basis for sex-specific job preference. From the age of nine months, boys gravitate toward "masculine" toys while girls choose "feminine" ones. Why, even during the first day after birth, boys are more likely to look at mechanical objects whereas girls are drawn to faces. Explaining the significance of this finding in my October 2013 piece "Why Girls and Science Don't Mix," I wrote:
This is one reason why, as California State U. Fullerton psychology professor Richard Lippa put it [in the GEP], "Men are much more interested in thing-oriented occupations, things like being an engineer or a mechanic; women, relatively, are much more interested in the people-oriented occupations." Lippa appeared in the GEP because he conducted a study of 53 nations and found that the sex-specific preference for jobs was universal. Said he, "You would expect it to change across countries if cultures were a big influence.... [Yet the phenomenon] was every bit as strong in Norway as it was in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or India or Singapore or Malaysia.... When you see a result like that ... that gives you a hint that something biological is going on there."
Yet the GEP points out that there are some cultural differences:
Women in "less egalitarian" countries, such as India, are more likely to pursue the masculine-oriented STEM fields than women in places such as uber-feminist Norway.
How could this be? In rich nations people can afford to follow their hearts, to indulge their natural inclinations, while citizens of poor lands must pursue whatever puts bread on the table (not too many "gender" researchers in the land of sati and saris).
Moreover, despite all the kowtowing to the coven of the caterwauling, some groups of American women are putting more bread on the table than their male cohorts. For example, consider what an April 8 PunditFact Truth-O-Meter article reported about research conducted by James Chung of private research firm Reach Advisors:
The median full-time salaries of young women in America's metropolitan areas are 8 percent higher than those of the guys in their peer group. A breakdown provided for Time magazine included a look at specific cities. In Atlanta, young unmarried childless women made 21 percent more than men, Chung found. In Los Angeles, young women made 12 percent more than their cohorts. ... The reason why young women in metropolitan areas earn more than young men is that they are 50 percent more likely to graduate from college.
This brings us to another striking double standard. Title IX has been used to enforce "proportionality" in college sports--meaning, since 57 percent of U.S. undergraduates are women, 57 percent of college athletes also should be --and, again, there are those who would apply this standard to STEM as well. But if equality and proportionality are so important, why do the social engineers not insist that 50 percent of undergraduates be men? It seems that some equality is more equal than other equality.
The problem is focusing on equality at the expense of reality. People simply aren't equal in their capacities, motivations, inclinations, talents, or priorities, and the market rightly reflects these differences. And it will continue to do so, unless ...
In her 2012 article "The case against the Paycheck Fairness Act," the American Enterprise Institute's Christina Hoff Sommers warns that this "misnamed" Democrat act "would encourage class-action lawsuits and force defendants to settle under threat of uncapped punitive damages." She continues:
Employers would be liable ... for the "lingering effects of past discrimination." ... Universities, for example, typically pay professors in the business school more than those in the school of social work. That's a fair outcome of market demand. But according to the gender theory permeating this bill, market forces are tainted by "past discrimination." Gender "experts" will testify that sexist attitudes led society to place a higher value on male-centered fields like business than female-centered fields like social work. Faced with multimillion-dollar lawsuits and attendant publicity, innocent employers will settle. They will soon be begging for the safe harbor of federally determined occupational wage scales.
And Paycheck (un)Fairness Act or not, this government pressure has already long had an effect. As writer Carey Roberts wrote in his 2008 article "McCain lampoons the gender wage gap myth":
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in many fields female college grads are being offered higher starting salaries than their male counterparts. Female physicists are getting $6,500 more [than men are]. Co-eds who majored in petroleum engineering are being offered $4,400 more. And women computer programmers are being enticed with $7,200 extra pay. In fact for dozens of majors and occupations, women coming out of college are getting better offers than men.... Why these disparities? Because in traditionally male-dominated professions, employers are willing to ante up more greenbacks to attract females in order to forestall a costly discrimination lawsuit.
And for a glimpse of what lies ahead on Equality Lane, look no further than Norway. That nation mandated in 2002 that 40 percent of all corporate boardroom members must be women. Since only seven percent were previously, one can only imagine how many men with superior qualifications have been passed over in deference to the quota.
The tragedy here is not just that Myth 77 is an attack on the market, but also on something even more central to a healthy civilization. Think about it: Since employers only have so many resources, compensating women above and beyond their productivity level means lowering men's salaries proportionately. And just imagine the effect of government occupational wage scales. In general, such factors would make it more difficult for men to support wives who would prefer to tend to hearth and home. Thus, Myth 77 is, among other things, an attack on traditional married women and children, on the central building block of civilization --the family.
Why do we never hear these facts in the political debate? Well, the "Women make only 77 cents on a man's dollar!" battle cry trumps whys and statistics and stuff of textbooks for the same reason Nike uses the slogan "Just do it!" and not long technical explanations of its sports gear's virtues. Demagogues may want to eliminate unfashionable pay gaps, but the knowledge gaps that allow their sloganeering to beat sublimity suit them just fine.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||May 19, 2014|
|Previous Article:||Americans need not apply: a recent move against the Boy Scouts and the forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich are part of a growing movement...|
|Next Article:||Honesty is the best economic policy: while "economics" as a science merely predicts how an economy will function if certain decisions are made,...|