Wednesday, April 16, 2014

President Obama on Equal Pay Day

He opened his Weekly Address by acknowledging Equal Pay Day,  which "marks the extra time the average woman has to work into a new year to earn what a man earned the year before."

Sound like a national holiday? No, its merely the proclamation of an organization called the National Committee on Pay Equity .

President Obama asserts that "the average woman who works full-time in America earns less than a man – even when she’s in the same profession and has the same education."

He claims that this is wrong and and its is an embarrassment. 

He concludes that "Women deserve equal pay for equal work."

Of course, his conclusion does not follow the premises. Laboring in  the same profession and sharing the same amount of education is not the same as "equal work." 

This will someday end up on a logic textbook as an example of a non sequitur.

 And this statement makes this non-lawyer wonder how this could be. Gender discrimination is against the law

The President naturally dovetails alleged gender discrimination into his campaign for raising the minimum wage: 

"Most lower-wage workers in America are women.  So I've taken executive action to require federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees at least ten dollars and ten cents an hour."

And, of course, Obamacare:

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, tens of millions of women are now guaranteed free preventive care like mammograms and contraceptive care, and the days when you could be charged more just for being a woman are over for good. Across the country, we’re bringing Americans together to help us make sure that a woman can have a baby without sacrificing her job, or take a day off to care for a sick child or parent without hitting hardship."

Women do not pay higher insurance premiums just because they are women.

And bringing Americans together? I think he means bringing Americans together in a federal court in the trial of a lawsuit.

And, of course, then there are those Republicans: 

"Here’s the problem, though.  On issues that would benefit millions of women, Republicans in Congress have blocked progress at every turn. Just this week, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that would help more women win equal pay for equal work."

The Paycheck Fairness Act makes procedural modifications of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Because progressivse cannot find conclusive evidence of wage discrimination, it must be because female workers fear employer retaliation. Otherwise we would hear all about it. The Fair Paycheck Act of 2014 intends to block employers from forbidding employee from discussing wages (in governmentese--"making wages more transparent" and prohibiting retaliation against employees "who raise concerns about gender-based wage discrimination."

Moreover, "House Republicans won’t vote to raise the minimum wage, but also refuse to "extend unemployment insurance for women out of work through no fault of their own."

Republicans did not refuse to extend unemployment insurance for women. They did it for everyone. And there are good reasons for acting the way they did. Although most Americans would rather work than collect unemployment insurance, one negative trade off that comes with this safety net is that sometimes there is no incentive to get out of it. It is meant to provide temporary assistance. Too many people, however,  depend upon it while searching for their career. They need to get a job--and while they are working seek their career. 


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