Friday, March 16, 2018

Collectivist Left on 'Pay Equity for Women'

The New Jersey Star-Ledger took the occasion of a failed gender pay “equity” bill to ridicule a man serving in the state senate.

In an editorial board post, N.J. senator gives rare insight into what a white man thinks about pay equity for women, the Star-Ledger wrote:
With all the attention focused on the massive protests by millions of women all over the world, let's not ignore the plight of a white man right here in New Jersey.

Just a few days after those marches for gender equality, a woman in our state Senate attempted to override Gov. Christie's veto of a bill to help bring women's pay into parity with that of men. It failed. Four Republicans who voted for it last year changed their minds, and three Democrats didn't show up. 
So Sen. Loretta Weinberg didn't have the votes to ban employers from paying women less "for substantially the same work." Her bill would have strengthened the penalties for wage discrimination and made it easier for women to recover the back pay that they are owed. Radical stuff.
Yes, it is radical—a radical departure from freedom of voluntary association, contract, and trade.

Weinberg was in the midst of comparing the pay of several demographics to that of white men when [NJ Republican State Senator Michael J.] Doherty, a white man employed as a patent attorney, felt the urge to speak. Stop picking on white men, he said. 
"It sort of hurts, it does, to be constantly told that you're the source of the problem," Doherty said. "Just because I'm a member of a certain group doesn't mean that I can be denigrated over and over again. It's got to stop at some point."

The Star-Ledger itself acknowledges that the demographic statistics are bogus. “Certainly,” the Star-Ledger writes, “there are issues worthy of debate here,” like the “exact size of the pay gap. An oft-cited 77-cent number is a bogus exaggeration.” Nonetheless, the Star-Ledger went on to ridicule Doherty about this statement:

"It sort of hurts, it does, to be constantly told that you're the source of the problem," Doherty said. "Just because I'm a member of a certain group doesn't mean that I can be denigrated over and over again. It's got to stop at some point."

I left these comments, slightly edited for clarity:

The Star-Ledger has picked the wrong villain here.

The collectivist Left forgets that human life is about actual individual human beings. It divides people by group identity, then villainizes some groups and victimizes others without any actual evidence of wrongdoing or harm related to actual individuals, other than meaningless statistics, which rank below damned lies for honesty.

And then the Star-Ledger has the gaul to ridicule a member of one of the villainized groups for reacting, based on the very standard established by the collectivist Left?

State Senator Loretta Weinberg’s so-called “pay equity for women” bill designed to impose “equal pay for equal work” not only violates the rights of employees and employers to set their own compensation agreements, it’s a ridiculous attempt to pretend that a simple law can somehow define what “substantially the same work” actually is for millions of people the legislators don’t even know anything about. As anyone who has ever done an honest days work in his life knows, there is no such thing as “equal work.” People technically doing substantially the same work can produce at vastly different rates for a variety of different reasons and thus be worth different pay scales. There can also be rational reasons for pay differences that have nothing to do with productiveness: People can have different employment goals based on life circumstances: One person may value higher pay, while another may value more work-time flexibility, for example. My daughter once negotiated more time working from home when her children were young rather than demand higher pay.

The government can’t possibly be fair in mandating one-size-fits-all pay policies. This is not to say women are always treated fairly. But you cannot morally generalize discrimination without unfairly demonizing innocent people. I think that’s what Doherty was trying to say. Statistics say nothing about specific individuals or specific individual relationships and are thus useless in correcting wrongdoing.

The only proper standard for dealing with unfair workplace treatment is individual rights, which involves specific actions of specific individuals based on actual objective facts of the case. There is nothing wrong with private citizens publicizing statistics as a tool to draw attention to specific instances of unfair discrimination. Demographic statistics on pay undoubtedly harbor some instances of irrational and wrongful discrimination. But they also cover completely innocent individuals and rationally defensible pay practices. The two should never be wrapped in the same generality, which so-called pay-equity-for-women bills invariably do. In instances of fraud or breach of contract, such as if a company fails to deliver promised compensation, the government should properly step in. Otherwise, the government has no proper business interfering in private employer-employee contracts. But Weinberg’s bill actually sanctions breach of contract by empowering women to sue for back wages for a job she voluntarily agreed to perform based on mutually agreed-upon terms, simply because she discovers that someone else is making more. Demonstrably provable pay inequities in the private sector should be dealt with through social activism and persuasion or by allowing economic competition to equitize compensation, as it invariably will.

Laws that treat human beings as robotic drones, such as Weinberg’s wildly vague bill based on statistical demographics, is what should be ridiculed. This is the same lawmaker who once proposed a bill to monitor all homeschooling parents like paroled criminals because of an isolated incident of child abuse. Doherty’s pushback is a direct reaction to the collectivist Left. I think he should be applauded but also sympathized with for being put in a position of having to say what he said. People shouldn’t have to defend themselves because of some characteristic they share with some group. Hopefully we’ll see more of this kind of pushback against the Left’s demonization/victimization tribalism. It is contrary to the principles of America, a nation based on individualism and individual rights.

Related Reading:

A “Regulation-Free Zone for Home-Schooling Families” Comes Under Attack in NJ

This ‘Women’s History Month,’ Distinguish Between Just and Unjust Equality

Economic Equality vs. Political Equality: Which is Your America?

Freedom vs. Equality: It's Either/Or

No comments: