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Faced with what seems to be an increasing level of misleading rhetoric about conservative positions on public policy issues, The National Center for Public Policy Research has resolved to help bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.
Disclaimer: We freely acknowledge that not all conservatives share every view related as "what conservatives think," nor does every speaker of what our editors perceive to be a left-wing comment think of themselves as "liberal." However, unanimity is impossible on questions such as these. We therefore offer our best judgment, and offer apologies to anyone who believes we could have done better.
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Photo of Valley Forge National Historic Park by James Lemass
Civil Rights: Should Government
Make Sure Women are Paid as Much as Men?
The left-wing has complained about so-called
"pay equity" for years. As the U.S. Senate's Republican
Policy Committee has pointed out, however: "The average
wage gap between men and women is 26 cents (and falling). But
this figure does not account for factors unrelated to sex discrimination
that affect income: age, education, occupation, number of years
in the workforce, and experience. Controlling for these factors
shows women are actually paid 98 cents for every dollar earned
by a man. The remaining 2-cent adjusted wage gap could
be caused by sex discrimination, but it could also be caused
by measuring errors, unaccounted for differences between men
and women, or a combination of these factors. The 2-cent adjusted
wage gap could also be more than made up for by the non-monetary
benefits of female-dominated jobs, including better supervisors,
fewer risks, easier commutes, and more flexible hours. Former
Congressional Budget Office Director June O'Neill writes, 'When
earnings comparisons are restricted to men and women more similar
in their experience and life situations, the measured earnings
differentials are typically quite small.'"(1)
It is worth noting that wage discrimination on the basis of gender already is illegal. The government has structures in place to assure that a woman doing the same job as a man receives the same compensation. What the left seeks is a government mechanism to assure that persons in female-dominated professions are paid as much as people in male-dominated professions.
The philosophical issue involved is this: Liberals believe it ultimately is the responsibility of federal government to assure "fair" wage rates, while conservatives believe this is neither true nor wise. Wage rates are properly negotiated between employer and employee. Employers who do not provide adequate compensation will find themselves with a shortage of workers. Any other standard is subjective.
Another way to put it: The left believes both government employees and trial lawyers have a superior ability to set fair wage rates than do traditional supply and demand mechanisms. The right disagrees.
Ironically, because the law of supply and demand ultimately can never be repealed, pay equity laws (also called "comparable worth" proposals) are likely to increase unemployment rates for women by raising wage rates in female-dominated professions beyond what the market will bear.
(3) H.R. 1695, which had 19 co-sponsors as of 1/3/04.
(4) S. 16, which had 27 co-sponsors as of 1/3/04 and also S. 76, which had 20 co-sponsors as of 1/3/04.
Issue Date: January 26,