What are the facts about “equal pay”? – Redux


Dear Readers,

(The following was written in 2012. The timing perspective will add some clarity. It also shows that the Democrat candidates in this election are still trying to beat the same drum. Sadly the credibility of the argument falls flat – RF.)

What follows is a series of four articles that dispel the Democrat party assertion that “equal pay for women” does not exist in America. I believe that Americans overwhel-mingly agree that women should receive equal pay. I am among those that concur. But, as you will see, when apples and apples and oranges and oranges are compared, typically women are paid very similarly to men and, in many instances, women make more money than men.

Tuesday night at the Democrat convention (remember this was written 4 years ago – RF), the hue and cry over the “war on women” and the lack of “equal pay” for women was front and center. Lilly Ledbetter, whose fair-pay U.S. Supreme Court case inspired the first bill President Barack Obama signed into law, noted that women make “77 cents for every dollar that men earn.”

The phrase “women make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn” has been bandied about for years. As stated above, I agree with and support equivalency. The calculus of whether an individual has two X chromosomes or one X and one Y chromosome should never enter into the computation of “pay.” However, the notion of “equal” was never intended with regard to “pay.” Indeed, the concept is ludicrous. “Equal pay for equal work” is a computation that would be daunting to a super computer. For the moment let’s forget about “men” altogether and concentrate on “equal pay between women.” Take as an example two women playing in a professional golf tournament. They both walk an equal number of yards. The both swing golf clubs. Both have practiced long hours. Both are talented. But the one that does the lesser amount of work (i.e., swings the golf club the fewest number of times) gets more “pay” – a lot more “pay” – tens of thousands of dollars more “pay.” Everyone thinks this is fair. Why is that, ask you? Because, answer I, the reward – the pay – in dollars is for talent, not “work.”

Perhaps a more telling example is this. Let’s say that you own a medium size business. You have no partners or stockholders. Every cent of profit is yours. You employ 250 men who all make widgets. They all do the same tasks or, alternatively, rotate through the tasks. You pay them each $30,000 per year including benefits. Thus, your annual expense for labor is $7,500,000, the largest expenditure in your annual budget. It so happens that you are a greedy SOB republican, or worse yet, you are Mitt Romney running Bain Capital. Are you telling me that it would be possible to cut your labor costs by 23% and all you need do is fire every man and replace each one of them with a woman who would do EXACTLY the same amount and caliber of work with no loss in productivity? That puts $1,725,000 dollars directly into your pocket and your business sails on without a hitch. I assure you, if that were possible, there wouldn’t be a man with a job until women were no longer available to be hired – every woman who wanted to work would be working. That women earn 23% less than men is only true if you can convince everyone that an apple is an orange.

Enjoy the following four articles (I have edited some portions to avoid repetition, although some repetition could not be avoided and still keep an appropriate flow to the article):

[From: The ‘Equal Pay Day’ Myth, by Carrie Lukas] “The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the fourth quarter of 2011 that the median full-time working woman made 81.6 percent of the wages of the median fulltime working man (the 73% number used by Ledbetter is an older figure – RF).  Since then, big government, feminist organizations and liberal politicians repeat this “wage gap” statistic, implying that discrimination is its cause…

“This, however, is simply not the case.  Rather, the publication and intense focus on this presented wage gap is an exercise in statistical manipulation, espousing a conclusion that is unreal.  Aggregately comparing full-time working men and women without holding other factors constant is disingenuous — an analysis that accounts for hours worked, education and industry type would be more enlightening.

“Incorporating the number of hours worked variable, it can be found that while both men and women in the original analysis were vaguely labeled “fulltime,” this fails to capture hours put in.

“The Department of Labor’s 2011 Time Use Survey shows that fulltime working men spend… more time at work each day on the job. Therefore, it should hardly be a surprise that workers who work more do in fact earn more. Similarly, the sectors that men and women tend to dominate have to be taken into account:

  • Men dominate fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking — jobs with higher personal risk (both in job security and safety), but with salary premiums to compensate.
  • Women cluster in service industries, teaching, health care and the social services — jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours and greater flexibility.
  • While radical feminists argue that women are socially pressured into these low-paying positions, the same argument can be made that men, pressured to be the bread-winner, sacrifice comfortable positions to make a better salary.

“Finally, children create an important variable.  Two new parents tend to respond oppositely to having a child.  The mother tends to seek a position with greater flexibility and time off (sacrificing salary in the process), while the father actually seeks further salary gains.  When these and other factors are taken into account, the wage gap usually disappears and sometimes even reverses.”

[From, The Real war on Women, by Thomas Sowell] “The old — and repeatedly discredited — game of citing women’s incomes as some percentage of men’s incomes is being played once again, as part of the “war on women” theme.

“Since women average fewer hours of work per year, and fewer years of consecutive full-time employment than men, among other differences, comparisons of male and female annual earnings are comparisons of apples and oranges, as various female economists have pointed out. Read Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute or Professor Claudia Goldin of Harvard, for example.

“When you compare women and men in the same occupations with the same skills, education, hours of work, and many other factors that go into determining pay, the differences in incomes shrink to the vanishing point — and, in some cases, the women earn more than comparable men.

”But why let mere facts spoil the emotional rhetoric or the political ploys to drum up hysteria and collect votes?

“The farcical nature of these ploys came out after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared that Congress needed to pass the Fair Pay Act, because women average 23 percent lower incomes than men.

“A reporter from The Daily Caller then pointed out that the women on Nancy Pelosi’s own staff average 27 percent lower incomes than the men on her staff. Does that show that Pelosi herself is guilty of discrimination against women? Or does it show that such simple-minded statistics are grossly misleading?”

[From, The Myth of Unfair Paychecks, by Steve Chapman] “As any debater knows, defining the issue is a major part of the battle… Democrats failed to persuade the Senate to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act. What are we to conclude from that outcome? That paychecks will be unfair, to the detriment of America’s working women.

“That’s the claim of those supporting the legislation. President Barack Obama said it would merely mandate “equal pay for equal work.” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada warned beforehand that failing to pass the bill would send “the message to little girls across the country that their work is less valuable because they happened to be born female.”

“On Rachel Maddow’s blog, the complaint was that women are ‘still only making 77 cents for every dollar men earn in similar jobs,’ but Republicans ‘seem indifferent to the problem.’

“’This is a myth resting on a deception. The Washington Post’s official Fact Checker faulted Obama’s claim, noting that… depending on how the data are viewed, in some cases it barely exists.’

“A difference, in any event, does not prove discrimination…

“‘The gender gap shrinks to between 8 percent and 0 percent when the study incorporates such measures as work experience, career breaks and part-time work,’ Baruch College economist June O’Neill has written…

“A fact sheet from the American Association of University Women (which favors the bill) acknowledges that ‘10 years after graduation (from college), 23 percent of mothers in our sample were out of the workforce and 17 percent worked part time. Among fathers, only 1 percent were out of the workforce, and only 2 percent worked part time.’ It’s safe to assume that men who make similar work decisions experience similar consequences.

“You could argue that oppressive social conventions saddle mothers with the main responsibility for (the) task (of child rearing). But given the drastic changes in sex roles and expectations over the past half-century, why should we assume that this one is being forced on women? If they tend to place greater importance on child-rearing than men, they will be more inclined to interrupt their careers, even at a sacrifice in long-term earnings.

“Pay differences stemming from factors within the control of females are a ‘problem’ only if you define them as one. By that logic, we need a Higher Education Fairness Act because men earn only 43 percent of all bachelor’s degrees and 40 percent of master’s degrees.

“If universities are taking steps to discourage guys from enrolling, it’s a problem that may be amenable to government action. But if the imbalance is the result of males skipping college in favor of other options, there is no social injustice to undo.

“What the alleged gender pay gap reflects is the interaction of supply and demand in a competitive labor market. Even in a slow economy, companies that mistreat women can expect to lose them to rival employers.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act would upend these processes, with the government and courts assuming responsibility for what each worker should be paid, according to Harry Reid’s standards of justice and fairness. Every salary decision would be fraught with the dread prospect of litigation — promoting rigid pay scales simply to minimize the liability risk.

“The result would be a less nimble and efficient economy, which over time dampens productivity improvements and stifles wage growth. The effect on paychecks? Not fair, but foul.”

[From, Equality or Inequality, by Walter Williams] “Kay S. Hymowitz’s article ‘Why the Gender Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever,’ in City Journal (Summer 2011), shows that female doctors earn only 64 percent of the income that male doctors earn. What should be done about that? It turns out that only 16 percent of surgeons are women but 50 percent of pediatricians are women. Even though surgeons have many more years of education and training than do pediatricians, should Congress equalize their salaries or make pediatricians become surgeons?

“Wage inequality is everywhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian men and women earn more than white men and women. Female cafeteria attendants earn more than their male counterparts. Females who are younger than 30 and have never been married earn salaries 8 percent higher than males of the same description…

“There are other inequalities that ought to be addressed. With all of the excitement about New York Knick Jeremy Lin’s rising stardom, nobody questions league domination by blacks, who are a mere 13 percent of our population but constitute 80 percent of NBA players and are the highest-paid ones. It’s not much better in the NFL, with blacks being 65 percent of its players. Colleges have made diversity their primary calling, but watch any basketball game and you’d be hard-put to find white players in roles other than bench warming. Worse than that, Japanese, Chinese and American Indian players aren’t even recruited for bench warming.

“There’s inequality in most jobs. According to 2010 BLS data, the following jobs contain 1 percent female workers or less: boilermaking, brickmasonry, stonemasonry, septic tank servicing, sewer pipe cleaning and working with reinforcing iron and rebar. Maybe the reason female workers aren’t in these occupations is that too many are in other occupations. Females are 97 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers, 80 percent of social workers, 82 percent of librarians and 92 percent of dietitians and nutritionists and registered nurses.

“Anyone with one ounce of brains can see the problem and solution. Congress has permitted — and even fostered — a misallocation of people by race, sex and ethnicity. Courts have consistently concluded that “gross” disparities are probative of a pattern and practice of discrimination. So what to do? One remedy that Congress might consider is to require females, who are overrepresented in fields such as preschool and kindergarten teaching, to become boilermakers and brickmasons and mandate that male boilermakers and brickmasons become preschool and kindergarten teachers until both of their percentages are equal to their percentages in the population. You say, ‘Williams, that would be totalitarianism!’ But if Americans accept that Congress can make us buy health insurance whether we want to or not, how much more totalitarian would it be for Congress to allocate jobs in the name of social equality and the good of our nation?

“Nobel laureate Milton Friedman said: “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” Equality before the general rules of law is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty that can be secured without destroying liberty.”

Roy Filly

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About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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One Response to What are the facts about “equal pay”? – Redux

  1. Pingback: Let’s talk about “The Pay Gap.” | The Rugged Individualist

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