Equal Pay for Equal Work: The New/Old Trojan Horse; Unfairness

I am a sore loser. Thoughts of re-emigration dance around in my head. However, I am too old. And the very mechanism that I fear is trapping this whole society has entrapped me: I am dependent on Medicare which is not transportable. I am a ward of the federal government which took loads of my money for forty years and turned it against me, like a two-bit dope-dealer. Like other conservatives I know, I am tempted by the option of personal, psychological secession from the new Obama Peronista United States. But, finally, there is nothing to do right now but to continue to sound a voice of reason and of conscience in the hope that it will reach some of the inner children Pres. Obama has been singing to.

(Personally, I make it a practice to take my inner-child out every so often and to beat his ass.)

President Obama won re-election handily not by winning arguments but by side-stepping deftly vital issues of the solvency of this society, present and future, and of the role of government in restricting our freedoms. (There was also quite a bit of slime he threw at hapless Romney but that was secondary in his victory, I think.) After his inauguration speech I wonder if he is going to succeed in side-stepping central matters again by raising silly issues such as that of homosexual marriage. (I don’t use the word “gay” because it carries a political agenda. I am not against homosexuals, however. I don’t even think they have a greater chance of burning in Hell than I do, for example.)

President Obama has warned us openly: He is going to go on several new offensives to increase the intervention of the federal government into everything. One of his lines of attack will be the alleged injustice in the alleged disparity between the earnings of employed men and women . (The famous “seventy cents on the dollar,” or “sixty cents,” it does not matter. It’s called ignorantly, “the gender gap.”) Of course, it suggests stark, powerful, continuing sex discrimination. In fact, it’s the most successful social science fraud ever. It’s based on unexamined averages.

One of the common comparisons in earnings by sex is thoroughly dishonest. It goes like this:

Among people who work forty hours or more, men earn significantly more money than women. However, men who work more than forty hours, on the average, work more than women who work more than forty hours. (Read this again slowly; it’s easy to become confused.) Working longer hours is good for one’s career, it turns out. Career success, in turns is reflected in higher income.

The numbers look like this:

Average work week for men who works forty hours or more: 56

Average work week for women who work forty hours or more: 42

(Those are made-up numbers and only for the purpose of illustration.)

The point is that “40 hours or more” may mean anything from forty hours plus one minute to eighty hours, and even more.

Here are other relevant research findings:

1 Senior men earn more money that men with low seniority.

Working women have lower seniority than working men, on the average.

2 Men with a higher level of education earn more than men with a lower level of education.

On average, working women have lower levels of education than do working men.

3 Some industries inherently have higher level of remuneration than others.

Why this should be is interesting in itself but an unresolved issue. It’s is true that low-pay industries tend to employ many women. Whether the industries are low-pay because they employ many women (who don’t fight back) or whether they attract many women because they are undemanding and therefore poorly remunerated, is an interesting question. I don’t know the answer to this question. (Good PhD topic, someone!)

Let me summarize: Poorly educated women with low seniority who work in certain sectors, such as clothing retail, earn less money than well educated men with high seniority who work in oil-fields, for example.

It’s not hard to figure out at least some hypotheses about why women in the work force should have lower education, lower seniority, concentrate in certain occupations (close to home), and work shorter hours (even when full-time) than do men: Child care is primarily a female responsibility.

If government programs are needed to change this situation, they should be announced openly, not under the pseudo-guise of equal pay. (Or, one should address complaints to Mother Nature and to the disgusting games she plays with hormones.)

4 Black women earn more than black men on the average.

Why in the world would that be? What does this tell you about sex discrimination?

None of this is especially new. Sociologists have known this for a long time, at least, those who read their scholarly journals. There is a good chance this information will surface again whenever the administration starts pushing for “equal pay for equal work.” Here is my prediction, there is going to be a quick shift to “equal pay for equivalent work.” The shift is going to be so smooth, many people, most people, won’t notice. It’s going to be like the fast slide from “global warming” to “climate change.” (“Globe isn’t warming anymore, let’s change the subject and pretend we didn’t.”)

Then, there will be committees of sociologists and government bureaucrats to decide what is “equivalent work,” which will constitute a deep breach of the market economy principles that served us so well for our whole history. (And would anyone be surprised if some of the committee members were unfireable federal employees re-settled from the ever-failing US Post Office?)

Sociologists will decide. The horror!

Does any of this demonstrate or indicate that there is no pay discrimination against women? No, it does not. I am only pointing out that the slogan I hear most often on the topic is thoroughly misleading. And, in general, my experience says that if you have to mislead people about your cause it’s a bad cause. But, this is quite far from a proof. But, my experience also says that some employers actively discriminate in favor of women on pay. Hence, the honest research question would seem to be: What is the net effect of sex on pay. “Net” means: pay shortfall due to being female minus excess remuneration due to being female. I wonder if any social scientist has the balls to conduct such research. My guess is that if any does or do, it will be a woman or women.

Technical note: I refrain from spending the half day it might take me to dig out the references for the statements of fact above. It should be enough that I say that: a) I am proffering them in good faith and at a significant risk to my reputation; b) I satisfied myself when I read them that they came from good sources (blind, double- refereed scholarly journals of the first rank.)

Yet, it ‘s always possible that the evidence on which the statements rest was nullified more recently in studies that did not come to my attention. To guard against this (unlikely) event, I rest on the magic of the Internet, like Wikipedia, for example. If any of those statements have become false, someone will correct me, I think. At any rate, my faithful liberal critic on this blog. Prof. Terry is coming back soon from a foreign assignment. He is a well-trained sociologist who will be glad to light into me if there is the slightest opportunity.

A footnote on fairness. The president’s new domestic agenda, when you can see through the junk, is the same old litany of solutions to the various problems of unfairness that’s always the socialist agenda Here are my own two cents about the unfairness of American society.

When I emigrated to this country at age 21, I was a high-school dropout from my own country of origin and I possessed no skills at all. I had no money; this means “zero” money, not “only a little bit of money.” I had not much more than the shirt on my back.

I received a very good education in this country and I spent much of my adulthood doing what I like best and also getting paid to read books. I sent my two children to college as afar as they wanted to go. I am now living in relatively comfortable retirement in a part of the world I love, between my house (that I own with the bank) and my boat (all paid for). I write every day for the pleasure of it. I read every day. I fish in the summer. I take my grand-daughter to the beach.

When my wife came to me, she hardly even had a shirt on her back (but what a back, I add gallantly!) She is an artist. She has spent the past ten year painting and also half of the twenty years preceding. And in case you are wondering, no, her paintings have not made us rich.

Ah, ah, I hear you thinking, you don’t understand you, poor chump foreigner, you had it easy because you are a white man. Well, I guess so, but my wife is a “woman of color.” And, so are my two adopted children.

So, here you go, the US is an unfair society that must have made an exception in my case, and only in my case, N. S. !


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