Those lead to differences caused by choice, not discrimination. And we’re all pro-choice, aren’t we?
As several economists have noted, if businesses really could get away with paying women 23 percent less than men for the exact same job with the exact same hours, requiring the same level of education, skill and experience, it would be tough for men to get jobs. Wouldn’t employers jump at the chance to cut labor costs by that much? That is the best evidence that the president’s claim is a wild exaggeration.
Indeed, in a direct, apples-to-apples comparison, the difference in pay comes close to disappearing. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that single women who have never married earned 96 percent of what men earned in 2012.
It also doesn’t take performance into account. In my newspaper career, I’ve known reporters who broke numerous stories, whose writing was clear and crisp, and who never missed a deadline. I’ve known others who essentially mailed it in, had little motivation to cover anything beyond meetings and needed heavy editing. Should both have received the same pay because they were working at “equivalent” jobs?
The Paycheck Fairness Act says yes, which is both absurd and dangerous.
Yes, the existing pay disparity is a problem, but it is much smaller than the president claimed, it does not amount to a “war on women,” and it does not require heavy-handed regulation and oversight to correct.
The one element of the president’s order that makes sense — lifting rules forbidding employees from discussing their pay with one another — would probably do more to even things out than the political theater we’re seeing.
Don’t be fooled — this is not about helping women. It’s about holding political power.
Taylor Armerding of Ipswich is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.