Thursday, June 07, 2012

"Fairness" as a campaign ploy

A few days ago the Republicans in the Senate voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Liberals quickly began insisting that this proves that Republicans are against women. The bill is designed to eliminate the gender gap in wages by forcing employers to justify differences in wages between people doing "equivalent work". There are three problems with this bill.

The first is that there is no workplace discrimination according to the Department of Labor. Yes, women make less than men on the average but there are multiple factors at work. Women take time off for childbearing, sometimes years. They tend to work fewer hours or take jobs with more flexible hours. They are also less likely to take jobs that require physical labor. Most of this reflects the reality in our society that women still do more child-rearing than men. Employers are not to blame for this so any act aimed at employers is misguided.

Woman's groups have argued that there is still discrimination between "equivalent jobs". There are a disproportionate number of women in clerical jobs and men in construction jobs. They argue that these should be considered equivalent and paid the same. By making this law, the Paycheck Fairness Act would ensure decades of legal action as every possible job is rated against every other possible job. This is the second problem with the law. It is too far-reaching. The full effects would not be known for decades. The regulatory cost of the bill would be enormous since every wage would have to be justified, not only against other people doing the same job but against everyone else possible.

The final problem is that the Democrats are not really serious about passing the bill. They knew before the Senate vote that it had no chance of passage. The House already signaled that it would not consider the bill. This is nothing but a cynical attempt to paint the Republicans as anti-women. I could go into detail but an activist at the Nation has already done so. The bill was rushed to vote so fast that the text of it still has not been posted. Like the jobs bill that President Obama proposed last Fall, this bill was meant to fail in order to give Democrats a talking point besides the economy. Like the Life of Julia, the Democrats have decided to court young unmarried women and convince them that they need the Democrats in order to achieve their life's ambitions.

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