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April 7 2014

The Fictitious Holiday Based on a Faux Statistic

Ricochet
Sabrina Schaeffer

Tuesday, 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 theWashington 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.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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