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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Tom Jackson Columns

Jackson: Gender pay discrimination: Important if true (it’s not)

Eager to change the subject, Democrats from the president on down appear bent on spinning nothing but golden oldies from their weary collection of debunked, mythical and otherwise irrelevant liberal crusades all the way to November’s midterm elections. Last week’s exhausted theme, anchored to an utterly bogus quasiholiday, featured that evergreen canard, gender earnings inequality.

First there was President Barack Obama, fudging facts again while waving mangled Census Bureau data like a cell phone at a Pink concert, denouncing an alleged pay gap that leaves women making only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. That was Tuesday – April 8 – the day, the argument goes, working women finally caught up to what men earned in 2013.

A day later, Senate Republicans blocked (for the third time since 2010) the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, not without cause. The bill’s innards suggest it would be more accurately titled the “Endless Employer Harassment, Job-Suppression and Plaintiff’s Attorneys Blank-Check Act.” But by then the legislation had served its disgraceful purpose, giving Democrats more ammo for their ginned-up “war on women” meme.

Unimpressed, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote, “The statistic, and the political use to which it is put, deserve each other; they are equally shoddy, shameless and disreputable.”

The 23-cent gap was achieved by comparing all the full-time wages of women vs. men. You might as well compare the salaries of utility infielders to all-star outfielders. Equal work, equal pay, right?

No heed was paid to career field, education, experience or hours worked. The fact men tend to take on less pleasant jobs; perform work with higher risk of injury or death; tackle careers with less certainty about income from one year to the next (such as finance or law); dominate high-tech industries or, within the definition of full time, work more hours, all of which results in richer compensation? Never mind.

Democrats have their hysteria-raising statistic, and they’re sticking to it. “It is outrageous,” huffed Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, “that in 2014 some in Congress apparently still think that women don’t deserve to earn the same amount as a man for doing the same job.” This would be important if it were true, but even reliable lefty Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post calls it revolting demagoguery, and rightly so.

A 2009 study by the Labor Department punctures Democrats’ claims. Controlled for work experience and education, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent, then virtually evaporates when the danger and unpleasantness factors are folded in. Moreover, surveys of recent college graduates indicate little or no gender discrepancy.

To the extent any pay gap endures over time, it seems attributable to biology, tradition and temperament. Women take more time off from their careers – did you hear about the recent surge in stay-at-home moms? They choose less lucrative fields, and did we mention they work fewer hours?

Besides, it’s not like women lack recourse. Gender-based pay discrimination was outlawed in 1963, and has been amended to make it easier to sue several times since. Democrats can’t concede any of this, of course, lest they lose credibility with a confused, reliable victim class whose support they’ll need in November when voters will be focused on reality.

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