The IWF’s own Carrie Lukas has a must-read piece in National Review Online (and also on our home page) on the rad-fems’ efforts to portray Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as against “equal pay” for women workers. Now that the feministas’ attempt to link Roberts to abortion clinic bombers has bombed, so to speak, they’ve got to find some issue with which to tar him (see, for example, this vulgarity-laden screed from Feministing).
But of course they’re not really talking about equal pay: the notion that men and women working the same job for the same hours with the same diligence ought to be paid the same. Almost everyone agrees with that proposition. No, what the feministas want is an endorsement of “comparable worth”–the idea cooked up during the 1970s that the government should set occupational wages so that, say, file clerks, mostly women, make the same money as, say, construction workers, mostly men. Roberts isn’t the only one to reject comparable worth, which would not only put the government in the business of deciding how much people should be paid for their jobs, but would discriminate severely against blue-collar workers. The U.S. government has consistently refused to implement comparable-worth proposals, although I think they’re the law in nanny-state Canada. Nonethless, the rad-fems are trying to portray Roberts as a baddie on this issue.
So Carrie clears the air:
“Comparable-worth theory assumes that wages set by the marketplace are unfair to women and that the government will better decide the just compensation for a given job. New York’s Senator Hillary Clinton introduced legislation based on this concept earlier this year: Her bill would require that employers pay equal salaries to ‘equivalent’ jobs. While bureaucrats would ponder how to define ‘equivalent,’ employers, fearing a flurry of lawsuits, would likely regiment their salary practices.
“Women would be the big losers from this new regime. Women tend to want flexible employment arrangements: Many women — particularly those with children — willingly trade higher pay for the ability to leave each day at 4 P.M. to pick up the kids from school. Employers may hesitate to offer such options under a new ‘comparable worth’ regime, since bureaucrats thumbing through their records could question why the female manager makes less than her male counterpart.
“True comparable-worth advocates aren’t just concerned about pay discrepancies within offices or even industries. They want to ‘correct’ the unfair system that results in industries dominated by men, such as truck driving, paying more than those dominated by women, such as elementary-school teaching. Implicit in their logic is the snobbish belief that jobs like teaching deserve more compensation since they require more education, while truck drivers just mindlessly drone from one highway to the next.”
Carrie recommends that those who think comparable worth is a good idea immerse themselves in Warren Farrell’s “Why Men Earn More,” which examines the tradeoffs that many women make, especially mothers with small children, of less stressful work and shorter hours, in return for lower pay scales.
“This isn’t to suggest that there’s no such thing as discrimination against women in the workplace, but the statistical differences between men and women’s wages alone aren’t evidence of discrimination. Moreover, empowering government to ‘fix’ wages so they are more ‘fair’ is a recipe for disaster, particularly for women for whom flexibility is paramount.”