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Amy Otto: Don’t mind the (wage) gap. It’s just that men and women differ over the work/life balance

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On my side of the pond, there has been much consternation of late regarding a perceived wage gap between men and women in the United States.

It appears to be a continual fascination and novelty to the Democrat Party that men and women have some differences.

A more cynical person might suspect the Democrats doing this to sow division and discord and so drive up turnout among their supporters in what looks to be a down-cycle year for them due to the relentless unpopularity of Obamacare.

As far as a perceived wage gap (women purportedly earn 77 cent to every male dollar) is concerned, when one runs through the data and compares men and women in similar jobs and similar experience, the gap narrows to a nominal difference that could be attributed to discrimination of about 5%.

Despite this our White House insists on polarizing the debate with faulty data that even their own administration does not use to evaluate its own wage gap among staff.

The Democrat plan would do next to nothing to redistribute wages directly to anyone who was actually underpaid.

It would however make it likely a business – in order to avoid lawsuits – would shift towards a policy that narrows wage bands and eliminates ability to differentiate payments to staff despite differences in performance.

Even in Sweden where the push to mandate wage equity is stronger than any policy prescription from the Democrats, there still persists evidence that women simply make different choices.

Kay Hymowitz highlights this point with some pretty damning data if there is a policy prescription that is feasible to eliminate the wage gap.

Hymowitz states, “the results are not what anyone could call revolutionary. Yes, women make up 45% of the Swedish parliament compared to a paltry 18% in the U.S Congress.

And, yes, Swedish women are more likely to be in the labor force than their American counterparts. (Most of the data that follows comes from the 2012 OECD report “Closing the Gender Gap”).

But the difference in labor force participation is not dramatic, and in most respects, Swedish women behave much as their sisters do in the US.

Like Americans, Swedish women work substantially fewer hours than men; they are twice as likely to be part timers.

They are the vast majority of social workers, teachers, and child care workers and a small minority of scientists and CEO’s.

In fact, Sweden’s labor market is among the most sex segregated in the world and their wage gap shows it. Mothers take in only about 20% as much as men, almost the same as in the United States.”

Faced with this end result, you can draw two conclusions.

1. Conservatives are correct in their assumption that women truly desire more variety in their lives than simply a paycheck. They enjoy the balance of children and intellectual pursuits so greatly that despite all incentives, mandates, and quotas they persist in violating the left wing mandate that any person is interchangeable with another. The data appear consistently to demonstrate a distinct preference by women globally to choose careers that fit their sensibilities and desired time commitments.

2. If the Progressives are right, we must therefore abandon our individual choices and preferences to meet the desired metrics of “equality”.

To do so just requires the following:

· All people must work the exact same amount of hours.

· Say good bye to flexibility of your time. No leaving early for your child’s game. No working late to catch up and be ready for the morning. You must work the exact set of hours as all other people lest you risk a wage gap.

· All jobs must pay the same and offer the exact basket of benefits regardless of personal performance. One can imagine that people may not put in extra effort if there is no legal way to recognise it either in direct compensation or flexibility of hours, but that matters less than the siren call of “equality” nirvana.

· A specific numerical amount of current stay-at-home-mothers must be mandated to work. Drop that baby and get to work mommy, what you want is less important than “the greater good”.

· A corresponding number of men will be mandated to stay home until exact parity is achieved. You aren’t capable of nursing a baby. Well they haven’t figured that part out yet but I’m sure this will go fine. Kiss your wife and push her out the door.

· 50 per cent of children will proceed to daycare, 50 per cent will stay at home with a parent because of “equality”. Likely Progressives would prefer 100 per cent be taken into government run daycare, but I’ll be generous here and assume they desire similar “diversity” here.

If the policy list above feels a bit Draconian and stifling to a free society, it would be because that is precisely what they are.

Progressive politics to achieve their goals must necessarily suppress individual preference for a theoretical consensus.

Conservatism, while often maligned as oppressive, is the only logical ideology to embrace if you have more than a passing interest in asserting your own values in society. It may be time to stop minding the gap.

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Amy Otto
Amy Otto is Executive Editor at www.pocketfullofliberty.com

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