Michael S. Rozeff
Lew Rockwell Blog
January 31, 2014
Women are paid less than men due to many economic factors that have nothing to do with discrimination on the basis of sex. Whatever these factors are, it comes down to the fact that employers who are bidding for women’s labor don’t have to bid as high as they do to get men to work for them.
Why then don’t they all buy up more women’s labor and in the process drive the pay to equality? It’s because of those “factors” that cost them more in other ways when they hire women. Under current circumstances (and they have lasted a long time), it’s only with a pay differential that both men and women get hired. As these factors change, the pay differential changes.
If women had to be paid the same as men by the force of law (guns, fines and prisons), then employers would not hire as many women. This might violate some other anti-discrimination law that’s based on quotas and numbers. In that case, if they were forced to pay equally, it would act as a tax on their production. They’d lay off people, invest less, and the product prices would probably rise. Growth would slow. The domestic firms forced to pay more than the market price for female labor would become uncompetitive compared to foreign companies without such laws. Employers, for example, would move production to Indian, Malaysian, Mexican and Chinese markets and hire female labor in those markets.
A train of political demands and consequences would also likely be set in motion.
The point of this blog is about Obama’s statement that women deserve equal pay for equal work. He’s willing to force the issue, if he can. If he succeeds, he’ll hurt women, men, employers, employees, investors and consumers, or just about everyone.
Do women deserve, i.e., have a right to a particular pay level? Women have a right to be free, everyone will agree. Employers have a right to be free too, but everyone (Obama) will not agree on that statement. He thinks they have no right to make a wage bid of their choosing. He thinks they have no right to associate with those whom they please or not. He thinks “society” via the government takes precedence. In his mind, these organizations, which are really organized groups of people, somehow have a right that employers or people do not have. I see no way that he or anyone else can justify this theory without indulging in some kind of arbitrary discrimination.
It is erroneous to think of an agreement reached over pay in terms of rights, which the word “deserve” means. It is erroneous to label some agreements as deserved and others as not. Justice does not extend to such matters. The idea of a just price is an old medieval and religious idea that doesn’t apply to how prices are determined.
Women do not deserve or have a right to equal pay for equal work because that entails short-circuiting the freedom to make bids (exchanges) and the freedom of association, in other words, actively impairing proper activities of others that do not invade anyone’s person or property or harm them in any criminal way or through a tort. On the other hand, we can say that women (and men) deserve to be free, because in this instance if they get what they deserve, their freedom, that does not invade anyone else’s person or property and does not harm them in any criminal or tortuous way.