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Explaining What’s Wrong With The Paycheck Fairness Act

As everyone expected, the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, supposedly meant to deal with the problem of a “wage gap” between men and women failed to get enough votes in the Senate yesterday to invoke cloture. Everyone involved knew this was going to happen, and that the Democratic sponsors of the bill were engaging in nothing more political games designed to extend the “war on women” meme that started in February.

To listen to the advocates of the bill, any difference between the wages of men and women for similar positions should be considered per se evidence of gender discrimination, and anyone who opposes the bill is therefore helping to perpetuate discrimination against women in the workplace.

As David Harsayni notes in Reason, however, there’s far more to this argument than meets the eye, and far less merit to the PFA than its proponents like to think:

Apparently, we live in a country dominated by misogynists rather than in one resembling a meritocracy. If there’s anything business owners love more than money, it’s hating women. Alas, without government, you can never reach your potential. After all, the argument presupposed that the gender pay gap is the result of widespread “discrimination” and “unfairness” — a matter so serious that a half-dozen senators were driven to news conferences this week to explain how terrible the problem is. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, “There will be Democrats in favor of ending this discrimination, and virtually all Republicans — and I hope that I’m wrong on this — are going to vote against it.”

So now, if you don’t support a bill that allows lawyers to bore into the souls of employers and discern their motivations, you, my friend, favor discrimination. You know, just like Susan Collins of Maine and the woman haters on the editorial boards of The Boston Globe and The Washington Post.

Women earn only 77 cents for every dollar men do. Period. When there is moral preening to be done, even people who think of themselves as the most thoughtful, sophisticated, non-ideological people on earth — Democrats in Washington — won’t surrender to the complexity of an issue.

It is irrelevant that the pay gap may be the result of innocent hiring practices. It doesn’t matter if women more often — and more wisely — take on fewer unpleasant or physically demanding jobs or that they may often choose careers that weigh the importance of salary differently than the ones men choose or that women — and blame God or nature or both — give birth, take career breaks and are more inclined to take part-time jobs to be able to mother those pesky kids.

(…)

Do Democrats really believe there is a war on women in the workplace — in their own offices, no less — or do they simply want to lord over every aspect of the employer-employee relationship? What’s most vitally “fair,” it seems, is that Washington try to make the private sector run like a public-sector union shop.

This pay equity debate has been around for quite some time now. I remember it being debated back and forth when I first started paying attention to political issues in the mid-80′s. On its surface it sounds like there’s a good argument that there’s gender discrimination going on when it comes to how much men and women are paid. However, once you start actually looking into the studies, it becomes fairly clear that most of the differences between men and women can be explained by the different life choices that the two genders make, on average, over the course of their lifetimes.

If one gender is more likely to take time off from work to raise a family, or spend less time at the office so that can spend it at home, or the the like, then it’s rather obvious that their compensation is going to be lower. In fact, if it wasn’t lower then it would be a sign that someone is getting underpaid, and it wouldn’t be the person working fewer hours.

Looking at the fact that there is a 23 cent difference, on average, and immediately assuming that it means there is gender discrimination, or even that it is the result of “unfairness,” is fairly intellectually dishonest because one is willfully ignoring the fact that there are a number of factors, taking place over the course over a number of years, that play into what one’s compensation is later in life. It also ignores the fact that individuals are, well, individuals, not members of some clearly defined group.

Christina Hoff Sommers, who has studied this issue for years, wrote about the 2010 version of the PFA and put it this way:

The bill isn’t as commonsensical as it might seem. It overlooks mountains of research showing that discrimination plays little role in pay disparities between men and women, and it threatens to impose onerous requirements on employers to correct gaps over which they have little control.

The bill is based on the premise that the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which bans sex discrimination in the workplace, has failed; for proof, proponents point out that for every dollar men earn, women earn just 77 cents.

But that wage gap isn’t necessarily the result of discrimination. On the contrary, there are lots of other reasons men might earn more than women, including differences in education, experience and job tenure.

When these factors are taken into account the gap narrows considerably — in some studies, to the point of vanishing. A recent survey found that young, childless, single urban women earn 8 percent more than their male counterparts, mostly because more of them earn college degrees.

Moreover, a 2009 analysis of wage-gap studies commissioned by the Labor Department evaluated more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and concluded that the aggregate wage gap “may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”

In addition to differences in education and training, the review found that women are more likely than men to leave the workforce to take care of children or older parents. They also tend to value family-friendly workplace policies more than men, and will often accept lower salaries in exchange for more benefits. In fact, there were so many differences in pay-related choices that the researchers were unable to specify a residual effect due to discrimination.

The links in Sommers’ Op-Ed go to the studies she references and I encourage you to take a look at them, because they make a pretty effective case that the entire pay “equity” issue is largely a canard and that the latest move to try to expand a law that has been in place since 1963 are directed more at the desires of the trial attorney lobby to gin up some business for itself than any real concern for the truth.

The advocates of this bill have rallied, unsurprisingly, around the slogan “equal pay for equal work.” It’s catchy, short, and probably politically effective, but it’s also completely misguided. How, exactly, do you define what “equal work” is? It’s one thing to compare men and women doing the exact same job if you can find such examples, but once you start comparing the compensation paid to one profession dominated by men versus another dominated by women, you are comparing apples and oranges. In such a situation, any conclusion you make about what is “equal” is entirely subjective and based solely on the prejudices of the person doing the choosing. That’s not the way laws are supposed to be made, enforced, or interpreted, and a court case based on such comparisons would be, I would submit inherently unjust and unfair to the Defendant.

Sommers also addressed this part of the argument in her 2010 Op-Ed:

Universities, for example, typically pay professors in their business schools more than they pay those in the school of social work, citing market forces as the justification. But according to the gender theory that informs this bill, sexist attitudes led society to place a higher value on male-centered fields like business than on female-centered fields like social work.

The bill’s language regarding these “lingering effects” is vague, but that’s the problem: it could prove a legal nightmare for even the best-intentioned employers. The theory will be elaborated in feminist expert testimony when cases go to trial, and it’s not hard to imagine a media firestorm developing from it. Faced with multimillion-dollar lawsuits and the attendant publicity, many innocent employers would choose to settle.

The Paycheck Fairness bill would set women against men, empower trial lawyers and activists, perpetuate falsehoods about the status of women in the workplace and create havoc in a precarious job market.

Well isn’t that what this is really all about? Empowering the trial lawyers and the professional activists, not to mention the Democratic Party? It sure seems like it, because the Paycheck Fairness Act has nothing to do with reality.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    I’ve never been a fan of these things, because I don’t believe there is such thing as “equal work.”

    Someone always works harder, and studies more, in any role, and someone slacks off.

    I do think that every job should be negotiated and every hard worker should be rewarded, but I don’t see how government can help that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  2. john personna says:

    No, wait. Discrimination lawsuits are appropriate, especially when companies leave smoking guns in their emails (“no more Asians in engineering” etc.), or have stated policies like “keep women part-time.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. Matt says:

    I personally know a woman who is a programmer and a very damned good one at that. She doesn’t take time off for family. Matte fact she took less time off then her male colleagues and despite being more productive she was consistently paid less then her male coworkers. I’m not just talking one job either but over the course of a couple decades worth of jobs. Thankfully she landed a job as a professor at a major university and is now finally making money on par with her male counterparts.

    So go ahead and pretend that women are the weaker sex and as such have to take more days off to raise family or whatever. The fact of the matter is that there are definitely employers out there that are paying women less then men despite there being no difference in performance or days taken off.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 8

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Doug doesn’t seem to have heard of the “behind the screen” testings, where the exact same recording of music got worse ratings when the listeners were told it was played by a woman than when it was played by a man.

    Or the evidence of exact same resumes being downgraded when the name of the individual is recognizably female as opposed to recognizably male. (Similar downgrading for recognizably black names.)

    Doug, you swim in a sea of privilege you don’t even realize.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 5

  5. grumpy realist says:

    What I also find amusing is that Doug doesn’t realize that the “so what if women have to take time off to have children and get lower salaries as a result” is why in the end, a society run on Libertarian lines would collapse within one generation. Who would have and raise the children?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  6. James H says:

    I’m in the middle on this. On the one hand, I do think there’s a lot of truth to the idea that the “70 cents … ” figure is attributable more to individual choices than to gender. On the other hand, even in this enlightened time, you do still see companies that discriminate against women in pay. You see entire industries with a male-oriented, quite frankly sexist culture (see, e.g., “brogrammer”), and that kind of behavior raises questions about how these companies treat their female employees on payday.

    Meaning that (in capsule form) the problem isn’t as bad as detractors say it is … but that doesn’t mean there’s no problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well isn’t that what this is really all about? Empowering the trial lawyers and the professional activists, not to mention the Democratic Party? It sure seems like it, because the Paycheck Fairness Act has nothing to do with reality.

    Bingo!

    Separately this bill is a bad idea for the same reasons why all the other alphabet soup federal workplace laws were bad ideas, are bad ideas, and always will be bad ideas, whether we’re discussing the FMLA, the ADA, the OWBPA, the ADEA, or whatever.

    We don’t need Uncle Fed to stick its nose into basic employment relationships. To the extent these items even need to be regulated by the government in the first instance, they easily can be so regulated by the individual states and, in point of fact, are so regulated by the individual states.

    Companies don’t mind dealing with variances in state workplace laws. Companies do mind a great deal, however, being regulated by the Feds and the states, especially when those regulations overlap. Double the regulations means more dollars wasted on compliance and related activities. Every dollar that goes to defending against an EEOC enforcement action, for example, is one less dollar with which a company can hire a new employee. That’s one of the (many) reasons why unemployment has remained so stubbornly high.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 15

  8. anjin-san says:

    Going off topic for a moment, the market is way up today – +217.29.

    I wonder if Jan is going to show up and concede that this proves Obama is a fine steward of the economy and that things are turning around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  9. Rob in CT says:

    What is needed (and has happened quite a bit, if not all the way) is social change.

    The different life choices you mention, Doug, aren’t made in a vacuum.

    I mean… say you have a couple. They have a kid. The woman makes less money and more importantly her pay is low enough that it makes more financial sense to stay home than it does to pay for child care. This is a choice of sorts, but things line up such that there isn’t much doubt about what’s gonna happen. Then, if/when she goes back into the workforce, she’s down X years of work experience, with the obvious impact on her pay.

    I happen to think that trying to fix this via legislation is most likely a mistake, basically because I can’t really imagine a workable enforcement mechanism. It’s more likely to simply result in a bunch of ass-covering by HR.

    Easy for me to say, etc, etc.

    I differ from you as to whether or not there is an underlying problem, though. I think there is. There have been studies about women asking for raises and such. This is a common thing mentioned: oh, women don’t negotiate as well. But when they try to, they are categorized as pushy, whiny, annoying, etc. Change the gender but not the substance and you get Assertive, Confident, etc. That’s real. I just don’t think this bill, if it became law, would fix that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. Rob in CT says:

    @anjin-san:

    Clearly, that’s a response to the GOP blocking job-killing legislation, anjin-san. DUH! Here’s a link to an article over at the national review that’s totally unbiased and right and stuff…

    ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. James H says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I differ from you as to whether or not there is an underlying problem, though. I think there is. There have been studies about women asking for raises and such. This is a common thing mentioned: oh, women don’t negotiate as well. But when they try to, they are categorized as pushy, whiny, annoying, etc. Change the gender but not the substance and you get Assertive, Confident, etc. That’s real. I just don’t think this bill, if it became law, would fix that.

    This. Modern discrimination in the workplace is a really complex beast, rife with gender stereotypes, both intergender and intragender rivalries, and attitudes both sexist and gender-neutral. What works for one workplace, both in terms of behavior and legislation, doesn’t work for another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  12. Moosebreath says:

    grumpy realist,

    “why in the end, a society run on Libertarian lines would collapse within one generation.”

    No, a society run on libertarian lines would collapse in far less than one generation, and not for this reason. Indeed, I think the only way we would see armed rebellion in this society would be to reorganize it on libertarian lines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  13. Matt says:

    @Matt: Wow really downvotes for giving a real life example of a working woman being paid less? Wow I haven’t even gotten into the sexist comments and sexist innuendo that she had to deal with on a daily basis. The attitude at most of her jobs was that women are inferior programmers and as such she was lucky to be working.

    I don’t know if this particular law would have any effect. I am inclined to believe that the law would create more trouble then it’s worth though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  14. PogueMahone says:

    There are several problems with your analysis.

    Everyone involved knew this was going to happen, and that the Democratic sponsors of the bill were engaging in nothing more political games designed to extend the “war on women” meme that started in February.

    Here, you are intentionally conflating what you perceive as a motive for the bill’s passage with whatever merits the bill actually contains.

    To listen to the advocates of the bill, any difference between the wages of men and women for similar positions should be considered per se evidence of gender discrimination, and anyone who opposes the bill is therefore helping to perpetuate discrimination against women in the workplace.

    Here, you are seemingly intentionally confusing what advocates say about the bill to what the bill actually states.

    Additionally, although your premise as to why there is such a disparity in pay may be valid, it is incorrectly applied to the language of the bill.

    The PFA clearly establishes an extreme burden of proof on plaintiffs who seek to sue their employers. Moreover, the PFA clearly establishes multiple affirmative defenses to such accusations.

    I would submit, as an employer myself, that there are good reasons as to why there is a disparity in pay between the sexes. However, passage of the PFA would not, in itself, seem to correct any valid disparities.

    Cheers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  15. Racehorse says:

    I have always thought that physically demanding jobs should pay more. How about a law that would help that? I used to work in the construction field when I was a student. It was heavy, dirty work. Even though I thought I got paid well, it was much below most “indoor/no heavy lifting” jobs. If I had a construction type skill, such as heat/ac, carpentry, electrical, then I could make a lot more. There are always inequalities in the work force. In most states, teachers are underpaid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  16. PogueMahone says:

    @Racehorse: I have always thought that physically demanding jobs should pay more. How about a law that would help that?

    How about applying that same principle to the most deadliest jobs?

    Would you believe that the 7th most dangerous job is that of your trash man?

    Just a thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. @PogueMahone:

    It should be noted that the median hourly wage for a trash collector is more than $15/hr, so we kinda already are paying them for the various unpleasantries associated with the job.

    http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes537081.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. PogueMahone says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Your reasoning is suspect.
    You’re suggesting that the median hourly wage of $15+/hr is adequate compensation for the deadly risks involved in collecting trash.

    How is it that you came to that conclusion? By what justification do you rely on that stipulates $15/hr is adequate compensation for the deadly risks involved in collecting trash?

    Question: How deadly is your job? And do you equate the risks of your death on the job to the compensation you believe you deserve?

    Cheers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. @PogueMahone:

    Because $15/hr is a lot for a job which involves unskilled labor, require practically no training, and can be done by pretty much anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  20. PogueMahone says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Therefore, $15/hr is adequate compensation for those who are unskilled and require no training employed to do a high risk job?

    I do not see enough justification in your argument to reach that conclusion.

    Cheers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  21. @PogueMahone:

    Since there’s not a trash collector shortage, so it would seem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    “Going off topic for a moment, the market is way up today – +217.29.

    I wonder if Jan is going to show up and concede that this proves Obama is a fine steward of the economy and that things are turning around.”

    I was wondering, myself, anjin, what happened to the markets today. They ended up at +286.84, which is a spectacular jump. Obama, didn’t really enter my mind, though, as a factor relating to this positive occurrance. Although, I did wonder if the Walker win might have injected some needed confidence into the stock market.

    However, it seems we are both wrong.

    According to the Huffington Post, U.S.stocks surged on talk of Spanish bank rescue.

    This was another reason cited as well:

    Jim Russell, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati, Ohio, said it’s natural for the market to have a strong day after an extended beat-down. On such days, it’s usually the companies that were hit the hardest that fare best.
    “In market language, it’s called a technical bounce,” he said. “There’s no bad news today, so the market goes up. Frankly, it’s that simple.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  23. Franklin says:

    My understanding is that the studies already took those factors into account, but I’m too lazy to look into it. I have a bit of trouble accepting proof from Sommers who has made a career out of anti-feminism. Not saying she’s wrong, but she seems like an unreliable source. That’s all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. PD Shaw says:

    @Matt: I didn’t -1 your comment, but this statement:

    So go ahead and pretend that women are the weaker sex and as such have to take more days off to raise family or whatever.

    . . . . insinuates that people who make adjustments to care for their kids or ailing parents are weak.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. anjin-san says:

    Although, I did wonder if the Walker win might have injected some needed confidence into the stock market.

    Wow. And you are willing to admit that in public?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. MM says:

    I fail to see why a Harsyani rebuttal is being considered worth reporting. Harsyani is fundamentally incapable of making an honest argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  27. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Oops. Tsar forgot to pretend to be a lawyer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. matt says:

    @PD Shaw: Assuming that all women take off time to raise kids is even worse to me. My wife has no intention of ever having kids and is no more likely to request time off then me. Yet in this very article Doug makes the argument that all women take more time off which is why women get paid less.. That to me is worse then any fake outrage you can gin up about something you misunderstood.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  29. DRS says:

    You would think that our oh-so-pro-family-values society would reward women who took time out from their work to give birth and care for infants by ensuring that they have adequate maternity leave and, when they return to work, salaries that reflect that work rather than penalize their dedication to family.

    But talking the talk is what America does best, and we can subcontract out the walking the walk. Probably to those illegal immigrants who walk across deserts to get to a better life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. rodney dill says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Since there’s not a trash collector shortage, so it would seem.

    I was following your dialog back and forth with PogueMahone to see if you were going to get to the supply and demand argument. I see you finally did.
    :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. superdestroyer says:

    At a time when the Democrats are claiming that they are going to focus on jobs, the progressive come out with legislation that will encourage private sector employers to outsource and off-sore.

    Every tech, engineering, or manufacturing company would have to think about outsourcing all of their human resource, marketing, and communications. If a high tech company outsources all of the pink collar jobs, then the government cannot tell them to pay the human resources managers with MS in human relations more than the engineers with undergraduate degrees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. stuhlmann says:

    Since we all want to be fair, and since we use outcomes to judge fairness, then I suggest an amendment to the Paycheck Fairness Act. Let’s add an amendment that says that educational outcomes for high schools also have to be equal. The percentage of boys graduating must be equal to the percentage of girls. The percentage of boys going on to college has to be the same as the percentage of girls. If there are differences, then it is assumed that the school has discriminated and can be sued.

    While I am not seriously proposing such an amendment, I do think that it has some merit, just as I think that there is some merit to the notion that women are paid less for equal work. There is also some merit to the idea that women may value other things (e.g. family time) more than men do. Since no one has touched on the point yet, if women really are paid less for equal work, why do evil corporations still hire men? If women will work for 23% less, then a company could significantly reduce its personnel costs by hiring women. And you wouldn’t have to hire only women – just enough to drive down the wages for everyone. Do we see this? I’m asking; I don’t know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. John D'Geek says:

    @grumpy realist:

    What I also find amusing is that Doug doesn’t realize that the “so what if women have to take time off to have children and get lower salaries as a result” is why in the end, a society run on Libertarian lines would collapse within one generation. Who would have and raise the children?

    I hate to break it to you, but we had almost ten thousand years of human society with worse conditions than that. Yet, somehow, we still exist.

    Most people seem to ignore one very interesting detail when it comes to gender equality — without our current technical (to include medical) progress, our modern notion of equality would be physically impossible. Even the most progressive/equal traditional societies (I’m thinking of the Cherokee Nation, q.v.) were not able to completely remove the concept of gender-roles.

    Today we have gender roles as an optional part of our society — a woman does not have to be a stay at home mom, but she may choose to be a stay at home mom. Without modern technology, that choice would not be possible.

    It’s time to admit that ten-thousand years of cultural and biological development had a reason. Only by understanding that reason can we achieve the types of equality and freedom that we are looking for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Rob in CT says:

    Most people seem to ignore one very interesting detail when it comes to gender equality — without our current technical (to include medical) progress, our modern notion of equality would be physically impossible

    Who ignores this? It’s rather obvious.

    I don’t think he meant “end of the species” when he said collapse. I think he meant “end of stable 1st world society” which is something else entirely!

    It’s time to admit that ten-thousand years of cultural and biological development had a reason. Only by understanding that reason can we achieve the types of equality and freedom that we are looking for.

    What are you saying here, exactly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. @Rob in CT:

    The different life choices you mention, Doug, aren’t made in a vacuum.

    So what would you do? Force people to make choices that promote your idea of “gender equality”? That’s not choice at all, it’s compulsion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  36. Rick DeMent says:

    While the specifics of this bill may not be what is needed the idea that there is no unfairness with regard to woman in the workplace is a joke. I know for a fact that if a woman is offed a a job and she tries to negotiate the salary she is much much more likely to have the job offer revoked then a man with smiler qualifications and experience. My Wife has experienced this directly and I have been involved with it as a manager where a woman I wanted to hire wanted to negotiate and HR told me to simply offer the job to the next person on the list but the next person, a man wanted to negotiate and they did, and we ended up paying him more then the woman was asking for.

    These things are happening all the time. If a woman want’s to negotiate a salary the offer gets revoked, if a man wants to negotiate they negotiate. That situation does need to be addressed somehow. Work place rules are deteriorating fast and it’s wrong and companies are simply throwing temper tantrums because there are those of us who insist on fairness of opportunities for all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  37. anjin-san says:

    @ Rick DeMent

    Come on now Rick. Women have plenty of opportunities to work for less and deal with the expectation that they wear low cut blouses to work. What are these broads griping about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Rob in CT: This sounds like the standard: “men gotta spread their seed so it’s all right for me to cheat on my wife” BS we’ve been hearing for years.

    Just because men have historically been on the top of the power structure doesn’t mean much. It simply means that the average man can beat up the average woman. If you want an ethical system based on “I’m stronger than you”, be my guest….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Rob in CT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Did you read the rest of my post?

    I am hoping for social change, not legislation, to address what I think is kinda crappy about the status quo.

    Persuasion, not coercion. I can’t believe you read my post and were confused about that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Rob in CT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    See, now, I was trying not to assume something like that. I wanted to hear him flesh it out himself, without immediately jumping to that conclusion.

    It may be that’s sorta kinda where he’s headed. If so, I suggest we let him say it, and respond to that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Rob,

    Fine, social change. But that is something that nobody can direct, it happens on its own through the actions and choices of individuals.

    What I’ve noticed, though, is that there seem to be some (not necessarily you) who see the impact of these individual choices that men and women make and argue that this is itself per se evidence of sexism. That cheapens the term and leads to a pointless argument, in my opionion

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Rob in CT says:

    Fine, social change. But that is something that nobody can direct, it happens on its own through the actions and choices of individuals.

    Right, which is what I want.

    What I’ve noticed, though, is that there seem to be some (not necessarily you) who see the impact of these individual choices that men and women make and argue that this is itself per se evidence of sexism.

    It might be evidence of such. It might not be. I think the negotiation example I raised is pretty obvious – at least it very strongly suggests sexism and requires thought and a convincing rebuttal, not dismissal.

    I *do* think sexism (some of which is simply lingering on from a bygone era, and I expect to resolve itself with the passage of time) is involved in the choices people make (or “choices”).

    You’re a libertarian, I know. In my experience, including my own libertarian phase, libertarians tend to think of individual choice as this idealized thing, particularly with respect to employer/employee relationships, usually b/c that matches up reasonably well with their own experiences (privilege: it’s not only about one’s advantages in life, it’s about disadvantages one simply doesn’t see).

    I think this is a blindspot. Our choices are constrained, nudged, etc. in all sorts of ways (most of them non-governmental in nature). That was the point I was trying to make in response to your post, and why I am hoping for change – just not change via legislation.

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  43. anjin-san says:

    Fine, social change. But that is something that nobody can direct, it happens on its own through the actions and choices of individuals.

    Right. Like civil rights in the south. Good point.

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  44. Rob in CT says:

    @anjin-san:

    That’s the obvious counterpoint, which I thought about making. But to me, that’s the extreme example that justifies a certain amount of coercion. Whereas this issue – which I think is real (if not 23%) – doesn’t clear that bar for me.

    In the end, I don’t think we can fully legislate away sexism, just like we cannot fully legislate away racism. In both cases, we’ve passed laws that have absolutely helped. I think what remains is largely unconcious/unintentional. And, because of that, I think the answer is persuasion.

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  45. swbarnes2 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, it’s called the fundamental attribution error.

    Don’t pretend that you haven’t heard of it. You are positively drowning in it.

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  46. So you’re going to quote social psychology nonsense and pretend that ends the debate?

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  47. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    “Although, I did wonder if the Walker win might have injected some needed confidence into the stock market”.

    Wow. And you are willing to admit that in public?

    Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was ‘willing to admit, in public,’ the possibility of Walker’s win as being a factor in the rise of the stock market, Wednesday. So did, Larry Kudlow, in writing, no less!!! —> Why stocks love Scott Walker.

    Tuesday night on “The Kudlow Report,” two investment gurus predicted a bullish market if Walker won. Art Hogan of Lazard Capital and Mike Ozanian of Forbes both forecasted a Walker rally. And that’s just what we got Wednesday morning.

    The logic? Well, mainly, a big Walker win opens the door to a Wisconsin victory for Mitt Romney this fall. Think of Walker as the leading indicator for November.

    If this is true, it augments some people’s claims that a Romney win in November might be an elixir to unleash more capital into our current anemic market place. You know, the power of the old ‘hope and change’ thingee, which rocketed Obama into office in ’08. But, now people want a more free enterprise kind of hope and change.

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  48. jan says:

    This Paychecks Fairness Act, being brought up now, is just another dem distraction, aimed at bulking up their ‘War on Women’ claims towards the opposing party.

    As a woman, I have never really been in step with the pressure women’s groups brought to the public forum, since their so-called gender revolution. Years ago I was invited to be on a community board hoping to raise and promote women’s issues. The leader of the board was a friend of mine, and she thought I could bring some youthful dialogue to the table. I told her that she wouldn’t want me there, as I opposed most of what this board stood for. I still do.

    Women are strong-minded, resourceful people who prove their value in the domestic and public workforce everyday. Currently they graduate from college in larger numbers than men, are having a growing influence on the political stage (locally and nationally), have high profiles in the work force, while still juggling childbearing and child rearing responsibilities on the home front. The nuances of why there are salary discrepancies are varied, and often times reflect special components of the workplace, or customized flex time arranged by the woman herself.

    IMO, women and men can best prove their salaried worth in the workforce through their own efforts and drive. Insinuating gender bias, or for that matter racial bias, erupting into an affirmative action format seeking a legislative solution, weakens people, creating inaccurate generalities lacking helpful positive affirmations of peoples’ innate/cultivated abilities to rise, show competence and merit on their own timeline, resourcefulness, and by their own means.

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  49. John D'Geek says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I don’t think he meant “end of the species” when he said collapse. I think he meant “end of stable 1st world society” which is something else entirely!

    Do you seriously expect me to believe that we didn’t have a “stable, 1st world society” until the late 20th century? For better or worse, the world he speaks of did exist. It may not be ideal, but it’s quite stable — and necessary under certain conditions.

    My point with the other is that griping about sexism (which, yes, does exist) without any sort of “context of arising”* is like barking at thunder — it might make you feel good and powerful, but it won’t solve anything.

    There are anthropological, sociological and biological reasons for this sexism. To eliminate it requires a full root-cause analysis and thorough evaluation as your start. No law — no matter how well intended or necessary — can succeed without those things.

    * Context of arising. Awareness of the law of cause and effect. Understanding of Karma. Take your pick.

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  50. Rob in CT says:

    He said “a society run on Libertarian lines would collapse within one generation.”

    We haven’t had a society run on Libertarian lines for quite some time (not just limited to the late 20th century), if we’ve ever had one at all. But I really don’t want to argue over what Grumpy Realist was talking about, because it was his argument and I’m not actually convinced I know exactly what he meant by it. If he really was asserting what you think he was, then I might have to agree with you (that society wouldn’t collapse. It might well get worse from my PoV, but collapse is a strong word).

    As to the rest, thanks for your response. I don’t get the sense that we disagree on anything that much matters here, actually.

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  51. swbarnes2 says:

    @jan:

    are having a growing influence on the political stage (locally and nationally),

    But growing doesn’t mean “equal” does it?

    while still juggling childbearing and child rearing responsibilities on the home front.

    Right, that’s exactly the point. Employers figure that women will be juggling their work and family, and they don’t expect the same of men. All women will be treated by employers as if they have or will have serious work-affecting family commitments, even if they don’t actually have them, or don’t plan on having them.

    IMO, women and men can best prove their salaried worth in the workforce through their own efforts and drive.

    Nice idea, but it doesn’t work. Look up the classical music example. When women auditioned in front of conductors, they were rarely hired. When taped and screened auditions became the norm, more women were hired. What should those female classical performers have done when every symphony insists on non-blind auditions? What individual choice can they make that will allow their work to be judged fairly?

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  52. Tlaloc says:

    When you want to find someone lying out their ass there’s no better source than Reason, except maybe Heritage.

    Seriously, how can you even repost that without noticing the gaping flaws in their “logic?” Notice how you mention

    To listen to the advocates of the bill, any difference between the wages of men and women for similar positions should be considered per se evidence of gender discrimination

    I’ve bolded the rather important part that reason tries to elide by specifically choosing only examples of women in different positions. It’s such a transparent BS job I really hope you were embarrassed to repeat it.

    Yes women making less than men for the same job is direct incontrovertible evidence of sexism. It may very well not be overt in the sense that the person doing the hiring may not realize exactly why they are paying a person less just because they have a vagina, but it’s still sexism.

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  53. anjin-san says:

    But, now people want a more free enterprise kind of hope and change.

    Careful what you wish for. Because the giant sucking sound you hear may well be money flowing freely from the poor, the working class and the middle class up to the 1%. And we are already well down the road to oligarchy.

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  54. anjin-san says:

    But to me, that’s the extreme example that justifies a certain amount of coercion. Whereas this issue – which I think is real (if not 23%) – doesn’t clear that bar for me.

    Oh I agree. I was just pointing out that Doug’s claim is utter nonsense. And there is no need to send in the national guard to effect change. Just look at Title IX.

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  55. John D'Geek says:

    @Rob in CT:

    As to the rest, thanks for your response. I don’t get the sense that we disagree on anything that much matters here, actually.

    Sounds about right.

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  56. John D'Geek says:

    @Tlaloc:

    Yes women making less than men for the same job is direct incontrovertible evidence of sexism.

    No, it’s not. It might be sexism — it might not. You need more evidence than pay differential. If it is sexism, you should be able to come up with more than just one data point.

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  57. rodney dill says:

    fundamental attribution error.

    The blogosphere defined in three words.

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  58. frank says:

    @Matt: You have to be a complete moron to somehow believe that any 2 persons’ work could possibly be the same!!! Even identical twins cannot do the same thing in exactly the same way! What a myopic view of life you live b!!!. I feel sorry for your family…having to live with such a pathetic mind set!!!

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  59. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    You really seem to feel the market is an indicator of how the economy is doing. Bright girl. I urge you to look at today’s numbers, and to compare them to where we were when Bush left office.

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