June 21 2011
IWF in the News: Protective Legislation Doesn't Come Without a Cost
I have to take a minute to respond to Brent Budowsky's post, "GOP war against women." For starters, the notion that a political party is literally fighting against 50 percent of the population is absurd and should be reserved for radical TV hosts like Thom Hartmann, who uses that phrase regularly.
Brent asks why "conservative Republican women support positions so hostile to the economic interests of American women." Well, in a recent Pundits Blog post, I addressed many of the issues I suspect Brent is referring to, including education, the wage gap and workplace discrimination.
But let me address the issue of workplace discrimination, since Brent was responding to my post about the Wal-Mart discrimination case.
There's the notion among many on the left that the workplace and society are openly hostile to women. It's a view in which women are constantly identified as victims in need of protection from the government. There is also the notion that these "protections" come without any costs to women - or men.
While I admit there are bad employers out there, overly burdensome regulations intended to protect women can backfire, making it more expensive and ultimately more unlikely that an employer will want to risk hiring women altogether. The fact is benefits don't come out of thin air. Longer maternity leaves, health benefits that cover birth control and more time off sound nice in theory, but they don't eliminate the actuarial realities of running a business. Someone still has to pay for those "benefits" - whether it's through lower salaries or by extending work responsibilities to other employees.
Despite the best of intentions, we need to consider the intended and unintended consequences of public policy. I believe Brent really is concerned about the well-being of women; but the answer is not greater government intervention. Instead, the best path to women's - and men's - success is a strong, growing economy that enables the creation of new jobs and provides workers with greater opportunities. More "protections" simply discourage that kind of economic dynamism.
In addition, men and women value time and flexibility, often as much as money. Fewer regulations - not more - will enable employees and employers to freely enter into contracts that fit the needs of both parties.
Only through more freedom - not less - will women and men truly benefit.
Sabrina L. Schaeffer is a senior fellow with the Independent Women's Forum and managing partner of Evolving Strategies.