EDITORIAL: Payroll equity vs. private enterprise
Apr 15, 2014 | 5975 views | 0 0 comments | 295 295 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Let’s put the debate about pay equity in perspective: It was in 1837 – 177 years ago – that a young woman in upstate New York named Susan B. Anthony made a public appeal for equal pay for women teachers.

By the early 1900s, according to a Kentucky Education Association source, gender equity had been largely achieved in the public schools.

Not only compensation, but opportunity, as well, is now pretty much offered on a playing field that is level as far as gender is concerned in the realm of public education.

The rest of the nation is pretty much slogging along, well behind the curve when it comes to equal pay for equal work among men and women.

The wage gap is reported at 77 percent, which means that for every dollar paid to a man, a woman who is of equal standing in everything besides gender – experience, job description, job performance – earns 77 cents.

According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, the average of 77 cents is derived from a scale that ranges from 64 cents on the dollar for working women in Wyoming to 90 cents for working women in the District of Columbia.

That group’s statistics rank Kentucky in a seven-way tie for 11th place (that would be 11th worst) with a wage gap of 76 cents, very close to the national median.

What it all boils down to, the Washington-based National Partnership says, is a difference of $11,607 between the average yearly income for a man compared to that of a woman.

We don’t doubt this information.

What we do doubt is how good an idea it is to introduce federal oversight into the running of private businesses.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, presently under consideration in the Senate, would add new regulations on how private companies pay their employees.

“The more light you can shine on wages, the better,” Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told The New York Times.

Really?

Is Big Brother’s watchful eye on more and more aspects of a private business’s inner workings really a good thing?

Frankly, we don’t think so. There is plenty of intrusion in the private lives of Americans already, and we are highly skeptical about how much good that is doing for anybody – except, that is, the government’s ability to control what private citizens do.

Let’s also take a hard look at just how effective federal government regulation is. Even as President Obama was making an appeal on behalf of the Paycheck Fairness Act, his own White House staff was coming under scrutiny. Seems that its median income shows a discrepancy of 88 cents between men and women – this, in D.C., which, as noted earlier, leads the nation with a mere 10 cent gap between what men and women earn.

House Speaker John Boehner leads Republican opposition because, he says, there are already federal laws that prohibit workplace discrimination.

But legislators have never been reluctant to pass redundant laws. Never mind whether they actually do any good or not; it makes it look as if they are addressing hot-button topics.

Hartmann, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s president, admitted as much when she said of the Paycheck Fairness Act, “Who knows how much stronger enforcement it will lead to. But I think the publicity – the fact that people will hear about it and know about it – will help.”

We agree that a dialogue calling attention to the inequity is a good thing.

We reject the notion that another federal statute will do any substantial good. This one, in fact, will lead us further down the slope toward termination of all individual and private liberties.
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