shutterstock_93973321

The Fictitious Holiday Based on a Faux Statistic — Sabrina Schaeffer

PFA_graphicTuesday, April 8th, marks “Equal Pay Day,” the fictitious “holiday” liberal women’s groups have manufactured to expose the so-called “wage gap.”

No doubt you’ve heard that women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. The faux statistic is repeated so often it may as well be part of the morning weather report. Of course, unlike the weather report, which is only sometimes wrong, the wage gap statistic is always wrong.

When economists control for any number of important factors – such as college major, work experience, time spent out of the workplace – the pay gap shrinks to almost nothing. (See here for more.) And if you don’t trust me, just see what progressive writers like Hanna Rosin and even the Washington Post editorial board have had to say.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the president, Democratic lawmakers, and progressive activists from repeating this erroneous number ad nauseum. And it certainly doesn’t stop them from using it to justify growing government even more in the name of protecting women by pushing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is slated to come up for a vote again this Tuesday.

It’s important that women are not fooled about what the Paycheck Fairness Act would accomplish. Like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act before it, the PFA would not actually create equal pay; it would simply expand the definition of “wage discrimination,” making it easier to file class-action lawsuits, and opening businesses up to greater litigation and uncertainty—all of which would be devastating to job creation and bad for workers, especially women.

Specifically the PFA would require employers to report on workers’ pay as it relates to race, sex, and national origin, so that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could ensure “equality” between men and women.

The law would certainly make it more difficult to tie remuneration to work product. In fact, businesses would no longer be able to use education, training, and experience as a justification for salary differences unless they can prove that the education or training was a “business necessity,” virtually stripping employers of any real say over what they value in the workplace.

And, perhaps most insidious, the PFA would simply pad the pockets of trial lawyers, who are positioned to be the real winners of this law. Women would automatically be included in class-action suits rather than having to opt-in, and the current bill includes no caps for damages. Democrats talk about this bill as “common sense” legislation. But ultimately, the PFA would hurt women, who would become far more costly to employ.

Just to be clear, no one wants to see any workers discriminated against because of their gender. And that’s why there’s wide support for the two laws already on the books to protect workers against gender discrimination: the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And one last note: lawmakers who are considering “going along with” the PFA to assuage the War on Women rhetoric should think again. Does anyone actually believe that, if Republicans give in on the PFA, Democrats will let up on the War on Women narrative? No doubt they would see this as a massive concession and double-down in their efforts.

  1. Misthiocracy

    Sabrina Schaeffer: Does anyone actually believe that, if Republicans give in on the PFA, Democrats will let up on the War on Women narrative?

    This is from my Favourite Quotes file:  “The March of Dimes was created in 1938 to end polio and when that was accomplished twenty years later did they proclaim “mission accomplished,” throw a party and disband? No, they just had to find a disease less curable.” – E. J. Hill

  2. Umbra Fractus

    Sabrina Schaeffer: it would simply expand the definition of “wage discrimination,” making it easier to file class-action lawsuits, and opening businesses up to greater litigation and uncertainty

     You assume this is not actually what they want.

  3. True Blue

    War on Women rhetoric is intended, as almost all leftist rhetoric is, to accomplish two goals.  Namely,

    1.  To delegitimize the existing Constitutional/cultural order by smearing it as sexist, racist, antisemitic, antiMexican etc.

    2. To encourage a particular segment of the population to perceive itself as a victim whose only redress can come from goverment action.  

    Note that “to discover the truth” is not on the list.  

    (Side Note:  Can we please stop using the word “gender?”  Words have gender, people have sex.)

  4. James Gawron

    Sabrina,

    As with Global Warming, Health Care, Foreign Policy, and now Gender Wage Equality the left’s stong point is definitely not reality.  Constant vigilance on this front is necessary to correct the useless even insane policy initiatives created by the left’s very weak grasp of reality.

    Thanks for the Post.

    Regards,

    Jim

  5. Chris Campion

    A very smart, practical, and wonderful woman I used to live with repeated the 77 cents line a lot, and when I pointed out that if you control for the factors that have been repeatedly detailed in many analyses the difference virtually disappears, she didn’t buy it.  

    There’s something to be said for staying on message.  If you repeat a claim enough, anyone who tries to counter the “settled science” of it will inevitably be fighting an uphill battle.  Which is why you hear liberals repeat these things over, and over, and over again.

    It’s still a culture war.

  6. Doug Watt

    On one day the message is that greedy business owners suppress the wage earner to fill their own pockets with money. The next day the message is these same greedy business owners hire men and pay them higher wages because of their sex. Why would a greedy business owner hire a man at all when a woman is going to cost him less in wages? 

  7. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    Great post.

    Women are different from men and we make different decisions in order to maximize our happiness. The idea that all happiness is wrapped up in either physically risky work or more-than-full-time jobs or corporate environments in general is one of these feminist ideas that just confuses me.

    It seems that discussions of women’s equality should factor in what makes women happy — and for the vast majority of mothers, it’s part-time work or no work outside of the home. It’s career paths that enable us to have diverse lives away from the office, including being wife, mother and builder of home life. These are not bad things, and that these wants are reflected in different careers, work hours and pay are not bad things. I wish feminists would advocate for women more rather than try to turn us all into men.

  8. Asquared

    Well, even Jay Carney says that statistic is misleading.

    “President Obama on Tuesday will call attention to what he has said is an “embarrassment” in America: the fact that women make, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns.

    But critics of the administration are eager to turn the tables and note that Mr. Obama’s White House fares only slightly better. A study released in January showed that female White House staff members make on average 88 cents for every dollar a male staff member earns…

    Men and women in equivalent roles here earn equivalent salaries,” Mr. Carney said…He said that the 88-cent statistic was misleading because it aggregates the salaries of White House staff members at all levels, including the lowest levels, where women outnumber men.

    Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, said the 77-cent statistic that Mr. Obama has often cited was misleading for the same reason, because it aggregates salaries for the American workforce..

    I created a new thread on this topic, which I would have put here if I realized what the stack of dollar bills was referring to.

  9. Asquared


    Mollie Hemingway:Great post.Women are different from men and we make different decisions in order to maximize our happiness. The idea that all happiness is wrapped up in either physically risky work or more-than-full-time jobs or corporate environments in general is one of these feminist ideas that just confuses me.It seems that discussions of women’s equality should factor in what makes women happy — and for the vast majority of mothers, it’s part-time work or no work outside of the home. It’s career paths that enable us to have diverse lives away from the office, including being wife, mother and builder of home life. These are not bad things, and that these wants are reflected in different careers, work hours and pay are not bad things. I wish feminists would advocate for women more rather than try to turn us all into men.

     My wife left the work force when my oldest was 1-year old.  She stayed home for 12 years to raise our two sons and she is just now dipping her toe back in the work force, working part-time from home.  According to Obama’s simplistic formula, my wife now makes 10% of what I make solely because she is a woman, yet she works half-time from home with tremendous control over her schedule.  The truth is, she is MUCH happier than she would be in a full-time job.  She has a standing offer to work full time for a lot more money, but she would have to show up in the office every day, and it’s not worth it to you (especially when you realize that her first dollar of income is taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.  

    And, she got a LOT more joy out staying at home raising our sons and being in their lives than any job could have possibly provided her.  

    Obama is engaging in the real “War on Women” by devaluing my wife’s sacrifices and contributions to raising our sons.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In