Paycheck Fairness Act: More State Coercion

by W.F. Price on June 5, 2012

In order to woo women, Obama has pushed a number of programs through various means, including Obamacare’s forced provision of birth control to female employees, new government offices specifically for females, and so on. Now, he has seized upon the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which will force employers to justify any differences in pay according to gender by explaining them in terms of qualifications, education and other “bona fides.”

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., would require employers to prove that differences in pay are based on qualifications, education and other “bona fides” not related to gender. It also would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who ask about, discuss or disclose wages in response to a complaint or investigation. And it would subject employers who violate sex discrimination laws liable for either compensatory or punitive damages. Under the bill, the federal government would be exempt from punitive damages [No surprise there].

There are a lot of problems with the bill, with one of the most important ones being that so-called qualifications don’t always reflect how well someone does a job, or how valuable they are as an employee. Business is about making money, and employers generally don’t care about sex as long as the profits roll in. If women really were only making 77 cents for every dollar men made and still performing the same, nobody would hire men, because they wouldn’t want to take on the extra expense.

This oft-cited statistic is fiction; when personal choices are taken into account, women and men make about the same, as one would expect. However, if the Paycheck Fairness Act is passed, women will make more than men for equivalent work, because the government will introduce a significant penalty for not paying women the same whether they produce as much or not. Women will be even more privileged as employees than they already are with affirmative action and the EEOC. They will also have another powerful tool for suing companies, and as the history of harassment lawsuits demonstrates, they will use it regularly, often at the urging of aggressive trial lawyers.

Under the new bill, HR departments will be tasked with ensuring that men who perform well do not get raises. Companies will lose ambitious, talented male workers who give up in frustration as they realize that they will never rise above a certain pay level because there’s a woman with higher “qualifications” (e.g. a master’s degree) who doesn’t make more than him.

Eventually, that’s the way these government controls will ultimately fail. Men will vote with their feet. They will leave large companies to start their own businesses or work in a field women are not interested in. Women’s wages will not increase, because companies that are bound by bad law to lower efficiency and productivity will not make enough to give them raises. Tax revenue will then decline. In the end, everyone will lose.

Finally, the idea that men don’t want women to make money is ridiculous. Most married women work, and their husbands are happy when they make more money. Can you imagine a guy telling his wife’s boss not to give her a raise? The only problem men have with these “equal pay” laws is that they end up paying for it in the office, and it artificially lowers their wages. There’s already anecdotal evidence that software companies deliberately pay women more than men to prevent lawsuits, and because money does not come from a bottomless well this means other people are getting paid less.

Sometimes it’s better to leave the state out of certain matters, because it tends to create more problems than it solves. Sometimes, it simply creates a problem where none existed in the first place. This is the sum of the Paycheck Fairness Act: just another set of problems for America’s businesses and workers.

{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: