By Mason Mohon | USA
This article is going to be a hard one to write, because we live in a time where the left is fighting in every way they can for minorities and people who seem to be disadvantaged by society, and these people who stand so ‘honorably’ for the rights of these people get very defensive when you offer an alternative solution. Nonetheless, this is an article that needs to be written about something that needs to be said. Yes, I am a white male, and I am straight, but that is extremely irrelevant to the situation because I will be coming from an economic standpoint, and money doesn’t see color, gender, or sexuality. Listen to what I have to say with open ears and no preconceived notions about my societal position based on my phenotypes. Look at what I have to say.
About a month ago, the state of Oregon passed their Equal Pay Act, to combat the alleged wage gap that exists in society. At face value, this seems to be a noble bill with a noble cause, yet intentions are not necessarily results, and as a student of economics, I take the words of Henry Hazlitt to heart:
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” (Economics in One Lesson, P.17)
What we shall later focus on is the consequences of said act, but before that is done, the idea of a wage gap must be addressed. I have heard many different numbers for how many cents women make per dollar men make. I have heard 70, 77, 80, and many other numbers, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what the correct number is because this is not comparing apples to apples, but instead, apples to oranges as the expression puts it. The number of cents women allegedly do make for every dollar a man makes is somewhere in the ballpark of 70-80. What still needs to be made clear is that this comparison is not a singular man to a singular woman doing the same job comparison, for, in reality, it is the sum of all money women make compared to the sum of all money men make.
This comparison, though, is not a fair one, because we must control for other factors. When we look at the fact that 92% of job fatalities are men, we realize that men tend to take more dangerous or accident prone jobs, yet a job with a higher risk of dying would logically pay more. At the same time, 76% of STEM field jobs, which usually pay a significant amount, are held by men. And this is not a sexist hiring bias in favor of men, because studies have found that women are favored significantly for STEM field jobs. People are not causing women to be paid less on the entire population of men to women scale, women are choosing voluntarily to pursue on-average lower paying jobs.
Let us look at another fallacy now. If one makes the argument still that individual women make 77 cents for a job an individual man makes 1 dollar for, the workplace would be flooded with women. Nobody would hire men because women are cheaper labor. But, as we can see, men are not facing drastic unemployment on a nationwide scale, so the conclusion to be reached is that men and women working the same job are paid equally.
Now we have gotten out of the way entirely that a bias against women exists within society to pay them less. There is no patriarchal cabal conspiring to pay them less, it is simply the jobs women are choosing, so let us now look at the consequences of an act like the one enacted in Oregon. What we must realize is that there may be jobs where women seem to be paid less in a paycheck than men, but they are still being paid the same, because usually, jobs like these have other benefits for women, such as paid maternity leave. When a government forces a business to pay women more on a paycheck level, it disincentivizes businesses to give women maternity leave. Furthermore, if the government mandates that businesses pay women equally to men on a paycheck level and mandates benefits such as paid maternity leave at the same time, it makes women more expensive to hire than men, which would lead to unemployment for women.
At no point in this article did I ever speak out against feminism, for I would consider myself a feminist in the sense of believing in equality among men and women. Yet, I consider myself a student of economics, and what economics does is give people an empirical way to analyze situations rather than an ideological way. So this brings us to the title of the article. Women, of course, want equal pay, as would any man if he felt that he was disadvantaged, yet the solution is not a government mandate, for this puts women in a position where they are seen as helpless and in need of the coercive rule of government to go forward in society when that is not the case. Women have the ability to fight for themselves, we saw that very clearly with the women’s march that happened the day after Trump’s inauguration, so let us not make rash and economically illiterate government mandates to help. Let women control their own lives. Take the government out of it.