The Wage Gap and Its Fallacies

 

So for whatever reason, I hang out on Facebook and argue with liberals because take that liberal friends! Any case, today one of the more reasonable ones (a guy who appreciates a chance to argue ideas with people opposing his own) posted this picture:

jokehaha
Ohoho! It’s funny because it’s liberal.

Words ensued. Wage equality is a big issue on the rise right now. Clinton has spoken out in favor of it. Arguing that it doesn’t work just gets you sneers of derision from liberal-folk because you suck, bigot. Or something like that. Since many of the typical arguments were showing up, I didn’t feel obligated to add other than that this policy would result in less jobs for women.

My friend countered that there’s little evidence this would happen. So I noted this will mean less jobs in general for everyone, and women are a part of everyone. His reply was this was an acceptable trade off considering the benefits. After all, it seems to have worked out for Affirmative Action. So me being me, I couldn’t let that lie.

“Seems” is a loaded word, and the conclusion from your statement speaks to Frederic Bastiat’s Broken Window story. The problem here is that there are trade-offs once you start meddling in the economy, and though you can justify it with how things appear at present because the losses involved are invisible. One person might get a job or promotion, but another won’t. A lawsuit might encourage a company to promote or hire certain protected classes of people, but it might also discourage them from hiring or promoting anyone at all until absolutely necessary. Is the loss smaller than the gain? There’s no way to tell. Sociological experimentation lacks active ways to compare. We don’t have a parallel universe to observe what happens when District Manager Schrödinger is trying to fill a position.

And here we run into the basic conceit of these policies: That a third, outside party has better judgment about how to run a business than the actual business owner. In this case, we’ve taken statistics that focus only on one output, wage and salary comparisons between the sexes, and assumed that there is only one input that has any consequence: sex. But these comparison tables beg the question. They separate the sexes and assume that any disparity exists only because of this ultimately arbitrary grouping. They ignore or dismiss as inconsequential any other inputs.

And the problem is, there’s as many varied inputs as there are individuals. If we were to take two individuals of similar pay rate in my office, you’d get two entirely different pictures of why they are paid that rate. Likewise take two people of similar experience and seniority and you’d get two different stories of why they are paid differently. It is almost arrogant for a third party to look in and say, “Well this person is paid less because you don’t like his race/sex/curly hair/dashing good looks.” (I’m the last by the way.) This is precisely what such legislation and regulation does, and shifts the burden of proof the employer to prove otherwise — guilty until proven innocent.

Moreover, these comparison tables rely on a false premise that such disparity is not only unfair, but systemic. There has to be some unspoken agreement somehow that all businesses, big and small, would agree to such disparities — at least on average. It defies self-interested reason even. The only way such disparities in the past have been able to be enforced just about anywhere is to encode it in the law, putting the force of government behind it. Otherwise there’s almost always someone who can figure out there’s more to gain in bucking the system than to go along with it.

This is a short-sighted policy that has good intentions but ignores any possible trade-offs or long-term consequences. Moreover, it removes the right of two individuals to negotiate a contract to their satisfaction, placing a third party with their own agenda forcing decisions in a way they approve. It’s going to cause problems.

Essentially the part of the pay-gap argument that drives me nuts is that it ignores anything at all about the individuals involved. The employee’s contributions, achievements, and abilities are ignored. The Employer’s needs, ability to pay, and company vision is ignored. It’s all distilled away until only one thing remains: gender (or biological sex because words no longer mean anything). This is the essential fallacy Progressives hold to: that an individual’s accomplishments and needs are inconsequential to the collective they belong to.

People will argue that if you take a man and a woman with the exact same employment history, skills, talents, and abilities, the man will obviously be paid more because misogyny. But this is a spherical chicken of uniform density argument: IT’s a hypothetical that can’t happen and only exists for exposition alone. In reality, you will never see such a pair that their only difference will be their biological sex. It’s impossible as each individual’s human experience will vary from person to person.

Progressives want you to believe that not only does this highly improbably situation exist, but it exists en masse on a frequent basis such that only intervention from a third party will fix things. But of course, with Progressives it’s never ultimately about fixing things. It’s about giving more power to the State.

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There are 86 comments.

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  1. Judge Mental Member

    C. U. Douglas: People will argue that if you take a man and a woman with the exact same employment history, skills, talents, and abilities, the man will obviously be paid more because misogyny.

    If you add performance to that list of equalities, it has been shown repeatedly that women are actually paid a bit more, due to constant complaints of unequal pay.

    • #1
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:02 PM PDT
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  2. Probable Cause Inactive

    What is the policy, exactly, that they’re advocating? A quota system that requires women to enter STEM fields whether they want to or not? A quota system that fires all those lady K-12 teachers, social workers & nurses, and reserves those jobs for men? A law that sterilizes women and forces them to stay in the workforce?

    If all they want is a law that prevents employers from discriminating against women w.r.t men working the same job, with the same education and years of continuous work experience, I believe such laws already exist.

    • #2
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:17 PM PDT
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  3. Judge Mental Member

    What they would actually accomplish long term would be to reduce men’s performance to match women. Men won’t put in more hours if they get nothing out of it. Commuting long distance, relocating to take a better job, doing unpleasant and dangerous work; no reason for it.

    • #3
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:20 PM PDT
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  4. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    C. U. Douglas: It is almost arrogant for a third party to look in and say, “Well this person is paid less because you don’t like his race/sex/curly hair/dashing good looks.” (I’m the last by the way.)

    Dang, curly-haired people in general are underpaid? I thought it was just me.

    I wish you success in your arguments, Douglas, but people who still believe in the pay gap are probably beyond convincing.

    • #4
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:22 PM PDT
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  5. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Randy Weivoda:

    C. U. Douglas: It is almost arrogant for a third party to look in and say, “Well this person is paid less because you don’t like his race/sex/curly hair/dashing good looks.” (I’m the last by the way.)

    Dang, curly-haired people in general are underpaid? I thought it was just me.

    I wish you success in your arguments, Douglas, but people who still believe in the pay gap are probably beyond convincing.

    This is a decent guy. He at least reads and argues. I won’t convince him, but who knows who’s reading his posts?

    Probably more liberals and I’m being far too optimistic.

    • #5
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:24 PM PDT
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  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    Judge Mental: Commuting long distance, relocating to take a better job, doing unpleasant and dangerous work; no reason for it.

    Obviously if men are far more likely to have dirty and dangerous — and therefore high-paying — jobs like working in the oil fields, it’s only because of discrimination. It cannot be that women are less likely to want those jobs, regardless of the remuneration.

    • #6
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:25 PM PDT
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  7. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Probable Cause:What is the policy, exactly, that they’re advocating? A quota system that requires women to enter STEM fields whether they want to or not? A quota system that fires all those lady K-12 teachers, social workers & nurses, and reserves those jobs for men? A law that sterilizes women and forces them to stay in the workforce?

    If all they want is a law that prevents employers from discriminating against women w.r.t men working the same job, with the same education and years of continuous work experience, I believe such laws already exist.

    In reality, the law will serve two purposes: it will allow civil bureaucrats to virtue signal by show how equal their pay is according to policy, and it’ll allow individuals to sue employers over subjective observations on objective differences.

    • #7
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:27 PM PDT
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  8. Richard Finlay Member

    The only solution is to make every job conform to the Civil Service(s) pay scale(s).

    Then, of course, the argument will shift to job-scoring to determine where on the GS schedule it fits. Educational requirements will be heavily weighted. You read it here first.

    • #8
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:29 PM PDT
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  9. namlliT noD Member

    Dude… too long, too complicated. You’ve got to knock’m out in a single punch.

    Instead of looking for pennies in cherry-picked statistics, they need to deal with the inequality of on-the-job fatalities:

    fatalities

    Source: BLS Fatal Labor Statistics

    I’d ask your friend how his mechanism of equality will handle this. Is his political party of the government going to have to start killing working women, because equality?

    • #9
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:29 PM PDT
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  10. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Don Tillman:Dude… too long, too complicated. You’ve got to knock’m out in a single punch.

    Instead of looking for pennies in cherry-picked statistics, they need to deal with the inequality of on-the-job fatalities:

    fatalities

    Source: BLS Fatal Labor Statistics

    I’d ask your friend how his mechanism of equality will handle this. Is his political party of the government going to have to start killing working women, because equality?

    Appreciated, though this was one of those points made earlier. He was rather dismissive of a lot of these facts. Again, I doubt I’ve changed his mind.

    • #10
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:32 PM PDT
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  11. Profile Photo Member

    The best part is when female Hollywood movie stars who make tens of millions each movie complain that they are not being paid enough. I cannot remember the last time I heard about any famous actress other than Angelina Jolie talking about the problems of women in the Middle East, or third world countries, or the problems faced by poor women in America. Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention, but somehow, I can never avoid hearing the cries of pay inequality from Hollywood actresses. It is ridiculous; they are ridiculous.

    • #11
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:35 PM PDT
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  12. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    Don Tillman:Dude… too long, too complicated. You’ve got to knock’m out in a single punch.

    Instead of looking for pennies in cherry-picked statistics, they need to deal with the inequality of on-the-job fatalities:

    fatalities

    Source: BLS Fatal Labor Statistics

    I’d ask your friend how his mechanism of equality will handle this. Is his political party of the government going to have to start killing working women, because equality?

    Interesting. The claim is that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. According to the above graph women collectively work 75.44% as many hours as men. Fancy that. Down with the patriarchy!

    • #12
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:37 PM PDT
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  13. Sabrdance Member

    Look, the problems with affirmative action are a side show -the problem with the graphic is that it’s wrong. Women doctors and engineers aren’t paid differently from men within their specialties -I kinda vaguely remember men tending to gravitate to specialties like surgery that pay better than GP practices, but women surgeons get paid ridiculously well too. And CEO Pay is skewed by a handful (it’s like less than 20) of really highly paid men. Look, they want to defenestrate Tim Cooke and give his money to a woman, I’m actually strangely OK with that. But let’s recognize what the data actually show.

    • #13
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:41 PM PDT
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  14. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Randy Weivoda:

    Don Tillman:Dude… too long, too complicated. You’ve got to knock’m out in a single punch.

    Instead of looking for pennies in cherry-picked statistics, they need to deal with the inequality of on-the-job fatalities:

    fatalities

    Source: BLS Fatal Labor Statistics

    I’d ask your friend how his mechanism of equality will handle this. Is his political party of the government going to have to start killing working women, because equality?

    Interesting. The claim is that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. According to the above graph women collectively work 75.44% as many hours as men. Fancy that. Down with the patriarchy!

    I do find it amusing that they want to compare men and women with outputs (namely wages), but when you compare inputs, they want to dismiss those as inconsequential.

    • #14
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:42 PM PDT
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  15. Z in MT Inactive

    Even if I don’t agree, I did think it was a funny joke.

    • #15
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:48 PM PDT
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  16. Pony Convertible Member

    The picture in the original post simply isn’t true. So discussing it is pointless.

    If women were paid significantly less for doing the same job as a man, who would hire a man?

    • #16
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:50 PM PDT
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  17. Probable Cause Inactive

    C. U. Douglas: In reality, the law will serve two purposes: it will allow civil bureaucrats to virtue signal by show how equal their pay is according to policy, and it’ll allow individuals to sue employers over subjective observations on objective differences.

    What law? The existing law, or some new law that they want?

    Here’s a summary of the existing federal law (requiring 59 seconds of googling to find):

    The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

    Seriously, what more do they want? Do they want a new law, or are they claiming the Obama administration hasn’t enforced the existing law for the last eight years? Do they want an administration run by a different political party?

    • #17
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:50 PM PDT
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  18. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Probable Cause:

    C. U. Douglas: In reality, the law will serve two purposes: it will allow civil bureaucrats to virtue signal by show how equal their pay is according to policy, and it’ll allow individuals to sue employers over subjective observations on objective differences.

    What law? The existing law, or some new law that they want?

    Here’s a summary of the existing federal law (requiring 59 seconds of googling to find):

    The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

    Seriously, what more do they want? Do they want a new law, or are they claiming the Obama administration hasn’t enforced the existing law for the last eight years? Do they want an administration run by a different political party?

    The more laws the better for them, really. Create enough of a legal morass and no one can escape the tar pit.

    • #18
    • September 7, 2016, at 2:52 PM PDT
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  19. Weeping Member

    Judithann Campbell:The best part is when female Hollywood movie stars who make tens of millions each movie complain that they are not being paid enough. I cannot remember the last time I heard about any famous actress other than Angelina Jolie talking about the problems of women in the Middle East, or third world countries, or the problems faced by poor women in America. Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention, but somehow, I can never avoid hearing the cries of pay inequality from Hollywood actresses. It is ridiculous; they are ridiculous.

    This drives me crazy too.

    • #19
    • September 7, 2016, at 3:01 PM PDT
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  20. namlliT noD Member

    Indeed, the meme is wildly incorrect. Women receive only 19% of the degrees in engineering.

    And depending on the type of engineering, it can be significantly less.

    Here are the UW-Madison numbers as an example. (11 times more men then women in Computer Engineering.)

    And women with engineering degrees often move into other jobs.

    So that’s the opposite of “naturally gravitating”.

    How is your friend going to force women into engineering fields they don’t want to be in? Or does he just want to give out degrees?

    —-

    Let me supply a data point: As an engineer with over three decades of experience, I have yet to meet a working woman electrical engineer… who was actually born a woman. (I know about six who were otherwise.)

    • #20
    • September 7, 2016, at 3:29 PM PDT
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  21. Hammer, The Member

    C. U. Douglas: less jobs for women

    fewer. :)

    • #21
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:41 PM PDT
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  22. Hammer, The Member

    in my profession, it is much easier for women to get jobs (and therefore make more money). Of course, it’s almost pointless to say that in the same job the pay gap pretty much disappears (or reverses), but I’d be willing to bet that female attorneys in Washington state make more (or, at least, are more numerous).

    In my court, there are 3 male attorneys and at least 8 female attorneys. At the attorney general’s office (hiring is done by a woman, btw), it is almost exclusively women who are hired. I find it difficult to believe that there is not open discrimination against men in that office, but also in the broader profession.

    And yes, that is the result of these sorts of lies, as with virtually all feminist lies. Blatant discrimination against men in the name of equality.

    • #22
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:47 PM PDT
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  23. Full Size Tabby Member

    There’s also the problem that many jobs with similar (or even identical) titles can actually be quite different from one another.

    I work as an in-house patent lawyer. Some in-house patent lawyer jobs are steady 8 – 9 hours per day, go home every night, no emergencies, no travel jobs. Other in-house patent lawyer jobs have highly unpredictable hours, are prone to “work through the weekend” emergencies, travel 25 – 40% of the time jobs.

    Both are probably titled the same or similar, but I suspect either: 1) the employer will need to pay differently, or 2) a different type of person will apply for each job, and I would expect there to be a difference in which one has more women apply.

    • #23
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:48 PM PDT
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  24. Hammer, The Member

    Don Tillman:Indeed, the meme is wildly incorrect. Women receive only 19% of the degrees in engineering.

    And depending on the type of engineering, it’s can be significantly less.

    Here are the UW-Madison numbers as an example. (11 times more men then women in Computer Engineering.)

    And women with engineering degrees often move into other jobs.

    That’s the opposite of “naturally gravitating”.

    How is your friend going to force women into engineering fields they don’t want to be in? Or does he just want to give out degrees?

    —-

    Let me supply a data point: As an engineer with over three decades of experience, I have yet to meet a working woman electrical engineer… who was actually born a woman. (I know about six who were otherwise.)

    That’s just it. These sorts of things are pure propaganda (which is always lies that the writer knows to be lies). They will use statistics that measure one thing, knowing full well what they’re measuring (e.g. the number of women self-selecting into professions), and then make a claim that isn’t supported by the data (e.g. at any given job, your equally qualified female co-worker will make less, simply by virtue of being a woman). That second claim is virtually always false, and I suspect it is far more likely that the reverse is more likely, though I expect the pay in those instances is equal.

    • #24
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:50 PM PDT
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  25. Hammer, The Member

    Full Size Tabby:There’s also the problem that many jobs with similar (or even identical) titles can actually be quite different from one another.

    I work as an in-house patent lawyer. Some in-house patent lawyer jobs are steady 8 – 9 hours per day, go home every night, no emergencies, no travel jobs. Other in-house patent lawyer jobs have highly unpredictable hours, are prone to “work through the weekend” emergencies, travel 25 – 40% of the time jobs.

    Both are probably titled the same or similar, but I suspect either: 1) the employer will need to pay differently, or 2) a different type of person will apply for each job, and I would expect there to be a difference in which one has more women apply.

    also – ref: my comment #24, these are different jobs. The claim is that women will make less for the exact same work. Meaning, if you have a male worker in your firm, doing the exact same work, he is earning more. This is virtually always false. Saying “female attorneys make less than male attorneys” is meaningless. It’s like saying “new york attorneys make more than Lewistown, Montana attorneys.” The comparison is useless.

    • #25
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:52 PM PDT
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  26. Judge Mental Member

    Obviously, we need a Federal Bureau of Job Classification and Wage Scale Adjustment.

    • #26
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:53 PM PDT
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  27. Full Size Tabby Member

    Judge Mental:Obviously, we need a Federal Bureau of Job Classification and Wage Scale Adjustment.

    I believe that is seriously on the table.

    • #27
    • September 7, 2016, at 4:56 PM PDT
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  28. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Full Size Tabby:

    Judge Mental:Obviously, we need a Federal Bureau of Job Classification and Wage Scale Adjustment.

    I believe that is seriously on the table.

    That’s the problem with jokes like that today: they turn all too serious.

    • #28
    • September 7, 2016, at 5:03 PM PDT
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  29. Judge Mental Member

    C. U. Douglas:

    Full Size Tabby:

    Judge Mental:Obviously, we need a Federal Bureau of Job Classification and Wage Scale Adjustment.

    I believe that is seriously on the table.

    That’s the problem with jokes like that today: they turn all too serious.

    I already was serious, other than the sarcasm about me thinking we need it.

    • #29
    • September 7, 2016, at 5:06 PM PDT
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  30. Percival Thatcher

    Don Tillman:Indeed, the meme is wildly incorrect. Women receive only 19% of the degrees in engineering.

    And depending on the type of engineering, it’s can be significantly less.

    Here are the UW-Madison numbers as an example. (11 times more men then women in Computer Engineering.)

    And women with engineering degrees often move into other jobs.

    That’s the opposite of “naturally gravitating”.

    How is your friend going to force women into engineering fields they don’t want to be in? Or does he just want to give out degrees?

    —-

    Let me supply a data point: As an engineer with over three decades of experience, I have yet to meet a working woman electrical engineer… who was actually born a woman. (I know about six who were otherwise.)

    Electrical engineers? I can’t think of one either.

    Software engineers have a much higher percentage of women. It might be as high as 15%. But then again, I’ve known quite a few that took the Mommy track.

    • #30
    • September 7, 2016, at 5:10 PM PDT
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