The “Fair Pay” Hoax

Tait Trussell is a national award-winning writer, former vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute and former Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.


Pages: 1 2

But the truths about gender pay difference have always been blurred by politics. Democrats, particularly, and Obama specifically, have enjoyed kneading the dough of this political issue. Last year, Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier to file charges against employers for discrimination in paychecks.

Blowhard Trumka knows full well that union pay increases are based on seniority, not on who works better or faster or more efficiently. Union contracts suppress the wages of more productive workers and raise the wages of the less competent–be they male or female. If women can be paid less for the same job, why aren’t all the union employees women?

One of the most serious and scholarly studies of women’s pay and progress was published several years ago by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), where I once served as vice president. The book, now in its second edition, is “Women’s Figures,” by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba.

To shoot down myths of the glass ceiling, the wage gap, the pink ghetto, the authors document how in key areas of education and employment women have substantially achieved equality with men.

In the preface, the authors say, “A major thesis of popular media culture is that women are victims of their social condition (and) suffer from substantial discrimination that leaves them less well-off than men. The apostles of this women-as-victims perspective use selected statistics and anecdotes to illustrate their theory. For example, women are depicted as earning consistently less than men. The corollary to that theory is that only government intervention can eradicate such discrimination to achieve parity between men and women.

In debunking “feminist tropes about women in the workplace,” the book reveals faulty methodological assumptions behind the “conventional wisdom.” They conclude that complaints about systematic economic discrimination against women simply do not square with the evidence. They also highlight some of the many areas where women have made considerable gains: in education, in entrepreneurship, and in electoral politics, for instance.

A few citations:

“Even if women are getting equal pay for equal work, the fact is we’re not getting equal work. Aren’t we stuck in dead-end fields? Simply because one can find a higher concentration of women in certain occupations, it does not follow that they are being discriminated against. Instead if may reflect the needs of certain women to choose career paths that allow them flexibility in raising children without significant costs to their careers.”

“Do women-owned businesses receive government contracts? Government contracts are primarily made with publicly traded corporations, which have significant female ownership. Women also benefit from special government set-aside programs for minorities and women.”

In challenging the “image of women as helpless victims in American society,” significantly, the book stresses that “the best antidote for possible discrimination…is increase in job creation….Profits fall if they turn away qualified candidates.”

Much as Obama may yearn to do so, he cannot change the law of supply and demand.

Pages: 1 2

  • Patrick Henry

    Identity politics, exploitation, unfairness, etc. These are the code-words used to pit class against class, race against race, young against old, in order to justify fascism and socialism. Freedom is unfair in an entitlement society, so a well-managed society (i.e., tyranny) is the new freedom.
    We are halfway down the road to serfdom and have reached a fork in the road. This decade might finally answer Ben Franklin's reply to whether we can keep our republic.

  • Lee Poteet

    During my twenty-five you career in public service, the major thing which I noticed is that women were never expected to do anything like the same work as men. If there was a physical component to the job men were expected to do it without comment, but the same was never expected of women. Women could without criticism take longer breaks, longer lunches and time off for the most trivial of excuses. And this in a place where women were already paid the same as men for the same job, if not for the same work.

  • 080

    What is this stuff about "fair wage". To me a fair wage is a wage that you are willing to accept. We do have a minimum wage but that wage is not fair but merely enforced by law. It should be apparent that employers are not willing to pay the minimum wage so they don't hire the kids that would be willing to accept less. Instead politicians have invented the "living wage". Since that is bound to be higher than the minimum wage you can be sure that fewer people will be hired than at the minimum wage. So we have people who would be glad to work for lessl but by law they are consigned to street corners and we get the result.

  • cjoh

    I am a woman who works in the legal field (no – I'm not a lawyer). I can definitely say that as a single woman I get paid less than a man would. It's not, however, because there is a cabal of men in a backroom smoking cigars sitting around trying to oppress me, the market actually discriminates against me because I am single. Married women want flexibility with their schedule to raise their kids (and I'm not against that and I even applaud it). So this fact, I believe, drives down the pay for women – I am single and don't have the luxury of a man pulling in 60-70% of the income. I wish the tax laws gave singles a break – it would help with the pay gap immensley in my opinion.

  • http://relevantmatters.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/a-sci-fi-novella/ relevantmatters

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN August 2008 report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at http://tinyurl.com/qqkaka. This may or may not reflect an increase in the percentage of women staying at home. But if the percentage has increased, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told them relentlessly for years that women are paid less than men in the same jobs, and so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they're supported by their husband.

    If millions of wives can accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives can accept low wages, refuse to work overtime, refuse promotions, take more unpaid days off, avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://preview.tinyurl.com/23qycq)— all of which lowers women's average pay. They can do this because they are supported by husbands who must earn more than if they'd remained single — which is how MEN help create the wage gap. (If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.)

    By the way, the next Equal Occupational Fatality Day is in 2020. The year 2020 is how far into the future women will have to work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2009 alone. See http://tinyurl.com/yab2blv

  • coyote3

    Gee, I am disapppointed. Why do they have to have blue eyes? I am one of those evil devils, and I don't have blue eyed person in my family.

  • Quarkonntn

    Statistics Canada defines anyone who is paid for 32 hours of work per week as a full time worker. The average full time female worker in Canada puts in 35 hours per week compared to the average male worker at 44 hours per week. Female workers also have five times the attrition rate of males. Less hours worked combined with less experience and seniority would account for the 35% difference in pay in Canada and the same is probably true in the U.S.