The ‘Wage Gap’ Commissars

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Has no Rx for his orange obsession.
A/V Subscriber
Nov 8, 2004
Wishing I was in Stillwater
From WSJ editorial page:

The ‘Wage Gap’ Commissars
Kamala Harris wants to insert bureaucrats into salary decisions.
By The Editorial Board
May 27, 2019 6:09 p.m. ET

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s latest bid for progressive hearts begins with a laudable ideal: Men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. Who can disagree, even without mentioning that discrimination by sex is illegal? The trouble is that the California Senator goes on to propose that political commissars oversee salary decisions for roughly 80 million American workers.

Ms. Harris’s plan, which she released this month, first cites tendentious statistics. “Women who work full time,” it says, “are paid just 80 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to men.” To repeat for the 862nd time, these figures are raw medians for all men and women, meaning they don’t control for occupational choices, career paths, hours worked, differing risks of on-the-job fatality, and so forth. The “80 cents” figure is simply incompatible with calls of equal pay for equal work.

Studies that compare apples with apples find a much narrower pay gap—or none at all. Last year two economists at Harvard examined data for Boston transit workers. In the aggregate, the women made 89 cents to the men’s dollar. But this gap, the paper says, “can be explained entirely by the fact that, while having the same choice sets in the workplace, women and men make different choices.” Women took more unpaid leave. Men logged more overtime.

This is not to claim that nobody in America’s vast labor market is ever treated unfairly. But as a means of countering whatever bad faith does exist, Ms. Harris’s plan would be a disaster. Instead of having workers claim and then prove discrimination, she wants the opposite: Companies would have to prove a negative—that they aren’t discriminating.

Under Ms. Harris’s plan, every business with 100 workers or more would have to get an “Equal Pay Certification” from the federal government. To earn this gold star, they must “prove they’re not paying women less than men for equal work.”

That means demonstrating, to the satisfaction of some bureaucrat, that any wage gap “is based on merit, performance, or seniority—not gender.” The penalty for failure is a steep fine: “1% of their profits for every 1% wage gap they allow to persist.”

North of 100,000 companies in the U.S. have at least 100 workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Together they employ some 80 million people. How in the name of Post Office efficiency does Ms. Harris expect the government to expertly second guess all of their performance reviews? She says certification must be complete in three years. The process would be run by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has a staff of about 2,000.

Most workers aren’t in a factory making identical widgets. Say that one lawyer writes a long and complicated legal brief, while another writes several short and simple ones. Is that equal work? What if output is similar, but one employee requires heavy managing, while the other is at risk of being poached?

Ms. Harris’s plan would make any pay deviation a liability. In effect it would strip managers of their discretion to judge and reward good performance. Salaries would largely be dictated by the HR and legal departments whose job will be to placate the pay commissars.

The certifying criteria would almost inevitably be a moving target, especially since there are infinite ways to slice the data. Google is a good example. “We do rigorous compensation analyses,” a spokeswoman said in 2017, “and when you compare like-for-like, women are paid 99.7% of what men are paid.” Yet female ex-employees have sued, alleging discrimination.

In March, Google said its latest analysis found that some male workers were underpaid, leading to raises for many men. In response one diversity consultant griped that Google was hewing to a “flawed and incomplete sense of equality” instead of trying to address “equity.” Ah, what an elastic term, as progressives try to put more private business decisions under political control. Now fork over 1% of your profits.

Appeared in the May 28, 2019, print edition.
Jul 25, 2018
Boulder, CO
This editorial lays out, very well, what a ridiculous idea this is.

It's yet another idea where there are laws already in place, but somebody wants to add yet another layer to what exists already.

And the 80 cents for every dollar line has been used time & again, without any context whatsoever.


Federal Marshal
Feb 7, 2007
Tulsa, OK
The trouble is that the California Senator goes on to propose that political commissars oversee salary decisions for roughly 80 million American workers.
Millions upon millions of people in this country, who claim to be afraid of Trump becoming a dictator, would support this idea with every bit of fiber in their being. Maybe the definition of ignorant in Websters dictionary should just have a picture of a liberal.

There are liberals on this board, reading my response and going: Huh? What does he mean by that?