Carol Platt Liebau: The Pay Disparity Myth

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Pay Disparity Myth

Hillary Clinton and Tom Harkin are pushing legislation to ensure that women and men are paid equally.

No doubt, everyone agrees that women and men should receive equal compensation for equal work. And that's what the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, among others, were designed to address. If the problem remains, surely everyone agrees that such legislation should be enforced more thoroughly.

That's not what Clinton and Harkin are after, however. They apparently want some version of "comparable worth" legislation, where the government targets certain training programs at women (so much for the gender equality that ERA backers are after!), interferes in the labor market to set compensation rates -- actually a form of back-door socialism. What's more, the feminist myth that women earn 77 cents on the dollar because of nothing more than old-fashioned sexism is just that, a myth: See here and here and here.

If Clinton and Harkin really cared about women's quality of life, they would have supported flex-time legislation originally sponsored by Senator John Ashcroft. That's an idea that would give working moms want they want most: More time with their families. The Clinton/Harkin effort is nothing more than the newest feminist effort to get more women out of the home into the workforce.


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