This is about an article on the front page of the March 23, 2015 edition of the Detroit Free Press: Pay equity in Michigan? Women will need to wait until 2086 by Kristen Jordan Shamus. (The link is to a revised version of the story.)
I'm directing these remarks at some hypothetical brainy young woman. The picture I have in my mind is that of the female "computer geek" character from the television series Veronica Mars, but first a little bit about me. I am, without any apology or arrogance or even pride, a brainy guy. I've written sophisticated, complex, short computer programs off the top of my head, no notes or scribbles or anything, and some of these programs worked the first time I ran them.
"Intelligence" is a real world thing. It has to do with upbringing, knowledge, observation, and "right thinking," all on top of some basic level of braininess. You were born brainy. Practical intelligence is probably something you could work on. Even if you already have a good deal of it, you can probably develop a little bit more. You can read books, get a college degree. You can talk to a lot of people. If you are a bit maladjusted you can work on getting your head right.
All of this is to say, even though I'm old, brainy and male, and you, my hypothetical reader, are brainy, young and female, we have "brainy" in common and I can make a few good guesses about you on account of that. You might feel seriously frustrated if you couldn't use your brain. If you went straight from high school to being a mother, there are things you might miss out on. If Nature insisted that mothers all be brainy, the human race would not exist. On the other hand, if you go on to college, get a degree in computer science and work at it really hard for 15 years, you might find it impossible to find a suitable husband and you might seriously regret not having started a family earlier.
Shamus begins her article with a few really stupid remarks.
I will not live to see the day when a woman will make as much money for the same work as a man in Michigan.Total baloney. Total. I'm sure if I could look with something like the Eye of Sauron over the whole State of Michigan, I could find hundreds of instances of a man and a woman in the same workplace with the same job descriptions whose compensations are within 1% of each other. In a few such instances, the compensations would be exactly equal.
. . . women in Michigan still make just 77.1 cents for every dollar a man earns . . . Our paychecks are about one-third smaller than the man in the cubicle across from us doing the same job.Ah, more baloney!! I know, in many cases, employees are not allowed to ask co-workers what they are getting paid. But in the interest of good reporting, Ms. Shamus ought to have asked around in the news room to see what male reporters with comparable experience and comparable performance levels are making. She can't compare herself to, for example, Stephen Henderson because Henderson has won a Pulitzer Prize or two. I think he's an idiot (figuratively speaking), but the fact is, he is a local media star and I'm sure he gets paid accordingly.
I'm amazed that Ms. Shamus didn't do a simple "true here?" inquiry and ask the guy in the cubicle across from hers "doing the same job" (blah blah blah) what he is making. As it is, she gives us no story at all. She spoons out a few "findings" from a report from an outfit called the Institute for Women's Policy Research and quotes a few responses. Caitlan Anderson is quoted, "This form of sexism is something people probably feel is a thing of the past, but these numbers obviously disprove that." No, Ms. Anderson, the numbers disprove nothing. My recent blog entry How Do You Solve a Problem Like Pay Equity? illustrates your fallacy. If the original study had been done right, comparing only male-female pairs in the same workplaces with the same factors that influence compensation (age, background, education, experience, actual performance), then the numbers would come out completely different. In some workplaces, in some occupations, it might turn out that females make more than males with similar factors.
Dr. Gloria Thomas is quoted, "If you focus on women and pay equity, everyone's situation improves." No. This "equity" will come at the expense of highly competent, highly motivated, hardworking male employees. Sorry, that's how this crap tends to work out. No free lunch. Zero sum. If you are a brainy female, the "equity" will also come at your expense. You might already be getting fair compensation, but the effort to achieve "equity" will result in greater compensations for females who are not nearly as brainy or productive as you are.
Cynthia Hess is quoted to the effect that "a big piece" of the "gender wage gap" is due to "occupational segregation." That may be true, but usually the "segregation" is not due to law or company policy, it is the self-segregation resulting from many individual choices. Most of the serving staff in family type restaurants are female. If I wanted a low-wage job in a restaurant, I would be a bus boy or a cook. Big deal.
The most interesting quote is from David Murray, a spokesperson for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder:
"Equal pay for women is a must if we are to achieve true equality between the sexes," Murray said. The governor "believes pay equity also will drive Michigan's prosperity -- it makes good business sense to have fair, equal and transparent compensation systems."I like that word "transparent." Try this: Make a list of all the reporters who get by-lines in one edition of the Detroit Free Press. Then call all of them up and ask how much money they make. See how transparent they are in practice.
What Murray really meant is this: It makes some kind of political sense to the liberal/diversity/multicultural/progressive/authoritarian faction of our ruling class, i.e., the Republicans and the Democrats, TO HAVE THE GOVERNMENT INCREASE ITS CONTROL OVER ALL BUSINESS IN THE STATE. "Fair, equal and transparent compensation systems" is one pretext used to accomplish that. If you own a business and you work at the "fair, equal, transparent" stuff all on your own, cool. What the government wants to do is open you up to more and more lawsuits so that, in the end, only those business favored by government have a chance to survive. It looks like our Gov. Cute Little Nerd is turning into Gov. Authoritarian Dickhead.
We analyze current events in terms of conflicts.
A skirmish in that larger conflict is this issue of "pay equity." There is some faction that has been making the same stupid arguments going back to the 1980s and probably earlier. Compensation is a hugely complex topic. I do believe in "equal pay for equal work," up to a point, but I think in most cases, more government intrusions on compensation policies would result in less justice, overall, not more.
The real point of this blog entry is: If you are a brainy young white person, female or male, I want you on the side of white people. If you are a brainy non-white person, you are free to do what I am doing and what I am encouraging other white people to do: Use the braininess you were born with in the service of the People who gave you birth. The exercise of true intelligence does not frighten me.
Let me assure you, if you are female, I support public policies that give you a
chance to exercise your intellect. If you go to college for 10 years with lots
of public support and you end up with a Ph.D. in mathematics and then you get
married and spend the rest of your life with family, kids, grandkids, I'm
absolutely happy with that. The treasures in the House of Intellect are, by
right, yours as well as mine.
Copyright © 2015
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