January 25 2012
The Perennial SOTU Canard of Equal Pay
Carrie L. Lukas
In a State of the Union brimming with double-speak and misleading statements, it was easy to overlook the President's repetition of the tired canard that somehow “equal pay for equal work” still alludes women. He slipped it in in the middle, between the bold proclamation that we need to “encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person,” and a call for supporting those who aspire to be “the next Steve Jobs.”
In giving the shout-out to the cause of “equal pay,” he checked off one box from what must be a long list of “must mentions” for any Democrat delivering such an address.
Corner readers surely know that work and lifestyle choices—not systematic discrimination—drive differences in the average pay of men and women. Women take more time off from work, gravitate toward more stable, safer, lower-paying jobs, and work fewer hours than men do, so it's hardly a surprise that they tend to earn less. When women make different choices, you see different outcomes. And in fact, younger women without children living in urban areas are increasingly out-earning their male counterparts. And of course, sex discrimination is already illegal, and those laws provide workers who are truly paid less for equal work with recourse.
Class warfare, not the battle between the sexes, underpinned the President's address, and for good reason. Women's unemployment rate has consistently remained below men's during this economic downturn. Women's higher rate of academic achievement suggests that the next generation of working women will continue to gain in the economy, while men struggle.
So the real question is, is when will Democrats finally be allowed to drop this tired feminist mantra from major political addresses?