I am no economist – actually, I’m quite ignorant of the field - and so I rarely comment on this subject. I am very capable of demonstrating my ignorance in other ways. However, I just received a newsletter from the White House asking for my response to the Paycheck Fairness Act:
- It's been nearly 50 years since Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, but today a woman who works full time still earns just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
- That's not just unfair. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families. That's bad for kids, it's bad for communities, and it's bad for the entire country.
- So President Obama is supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and help close the pay gap. Congress is scheduled to vote on the legislation this week.
- To help raise awareness of pay discrimination and make it clear that it is a problem with serious consequences, we've put together a series of e-cards to highlight the issue.
- Pick your favorite, then email it to your friends or share it online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/equal-pay
The assumption of this is that women are the objects of discrimination in the work-place. Even if the White House is correct about this pay disparity, disparity doesn’t always mean unjust discrimination. Perhaps this disparity is simply the result of market-place principles. Perhaps men merit the greater pay because of seniority? Perhaps they are more inclined to put in overtime or work harder in order to merit promotion or higher pay?
It’s not enough to say, “Well, here is a disparity. Therefore, discrimination must be behind it. So let’s pass some laws to further control the economy.”
It seems to me that if the White House is truly concerned about discrimination, they need to launch an investigation or at least an undercover sting. Perhaps they can uncover a few corporate boards which are committed to male chauvinism or at least keeping the woman in her place through lower wages.
However, I’d be surprised if they found this. I even wonder whether they are even interested in wasting their time trying to find if this is the case. The White House email mentions no studies or even any intention of performing one.
One might instead wonder if this mailing has anything to do with the impending presidential elections and energizing the Democratic political base. I know that this sounds cynical.