- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 5, 2000

Equal time on issue of equal pay

The Times article "Clinton touts equal pay for women" (Business, Jan. 25) uncritically accepted the misstatements and distortions of comparable-worth advocates. Even the headline for the article works to legitimize the claim that serious wage discrimination exists. In fact, numerous studies have shown that male and female wages are indistinguishable when hours worked, seniority, consistency of employment and other factors are considered.

Most disturbing is the failure of the article to acknowledge or address the fundamental fallacy of the comparable-worth advocates. According to the quote by Karen Nussbaum, director of the working women's department of the AFL-CIO, discrimination is demonstrated by the fact that "child care workers earn less than gas station attendants."

That's baloney. Men and women are equally free to apply for work in day care centers or gas stations. If it is true that gas station attendants earn more than day care workers, it is because of supply and demand as workers consider the factors of each job, including nighttime hours, outdoor work in the winter, exposure to grease and gasoline, the risk of injury and the risk of robbery. Miss Nussbaum's example precisely points to the fallacy of letting government bureaucrats determine the "comparable worth" of different jobs.

If the day care worker truly believes that the gas station attendant has a better arrangement, all she needs to do is fill out an application for work at a gas station. The worker with qualifications for more than one job can choose the combination of wages, hours and working conditions that is most attractive. We used to call that freedom, and it is wrong to allow the claim of discrimination to go unchallenged.

RONALD K. HENRY

Vienna

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As a well-educated young woman, preparing to enter a wonderful marriage and the highly competitive legal workplace simultaneously, I have a few things to say about the gross misrepresentation of women in the workplace by your Jan. 31 editorial "Wages of feminism." You claim that "even 37 years after 'The Feminine Mystique,' most working women choose to build their careers around their families, setting their professional pace to the rhythm of their child-bearing and -rearing years," as if it is somehow taboo for a woman to be successful in the workplace and in her own family.

As for the comment that due to family obligations, women accumulate fewer years of work experience, I argue that this is false. More and more women are taking shorter and shorter maternity leaves due to the increasing costs of living that require two incomes in order to function. As for the women who are still able to have the luxury of staying home with children while they are young, these women are still accumulating years of practical life experience, including skills such as problem solving and time management, both of which are invaluable skills to have in any workplace environment.

As for myself, I guess that since I already hold a bachelor's degree and a master's degree and am well on my way to having a law degree, I probably don't qualify as one of those women who opts for a "less lucrative work load." And believe it or not, I plan to someday be a successful, practicing lawyer, a devoted mother and a loving wife. Hats off to our president who is willing to go out on a limb to ensure that I do in fact receive equal pay for equal work … despite the fact that I have not yet evolved into a man.

JULIE ANN BALDWIN

Grand Terrace, Calif.

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The president is pandering to two groups in pushing the bogus issue of "equal pay for equal work:"

n Rabid and strident-voiced feminists.

n Trial lawyers (who as we all know, love any law that would generate millions of clients in hundreds of class-action suits as this foolish idea, if enacted into law, would).

If you analyze almost all of the proposals by this morally bankrupt administration, you will find that each piece almost invariably would enable one group or another to file a lawsuit against organizations with deep pockets.

HARRY M. MATHIS

Round Rock, Texas

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Thank you for restoring some sanity and critical thinking to what usually passes for intelligent discourse these days: emotive sputum.

Your editorial on equal pay reminded me of my recent reading of the textbook "Effective Public Relations" (8th edition). The authors point out that women in public relations make less than men, even for the same years' experience. However, they note that when factors such as job type are taken into consideration (it appears that more men than women are managers; more women than men are technicians) the wages are equal.

Interesting, isn't it?

SANDRA EGGERS

Novi, Mich.

Baseball, America strike out on Rocker ruling

Either Gale Hammons relishes the sight of her own politically incorrect, or otherwise shortsighted, words in newspaper columns, or she is trying to slide a justification for stupidity under the cloak of concern for "the marketplace of ideas" ("Free speech … wide of the plate?" Commentary, Jan. 22).

Pardon me, but there is a difference between plain ignorance and a "good idea." And in Miss Hammons' profession, not knowing the difference could cost you your job.

As an associate editor and thus, a representative of a communicative body of a larger entity than Miss Hammons' alone, she should know better than anybody that we simply cannot go shooting off at the mouth about everything that is on our mind. Not, at least, without a little thought. Not, as Miss Hammons' neighbor columnist Clarence Page pointed out, in a "civilized society."

Any reasonable person not in the public eye knows this and practices it daily with their family, at work, at church, etc. It should be expected, then, that a guy in Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker's position should recognize and practice the same. After all, he probably has more access to America's youth than their parents.

Sure, Miss Hammons, I loathe having to be politically correct all the time, too. I'd love to have more opportunities to say what's really on my mind.

I suggest Miss Hammons rest easy. I have a funny feeling that America is in no jeopardy of losing its opinion leaders to the conformist police with straitjackets in the aftermath of the terrible injustice Rocker is facing as a result of his Freudian slip.

No one has silenced him. He will still have the ability to "squawk from the rooftops if he wants to." But if baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is smart, he'll make sure it is not in a major-league baseball uniform. That, my friend, is simply good business sense.

Aside from Mr. Selig's diluted business decision (Rocker has been suspended until May 1, fined $20,000 and ordered to undergo sensitivity training), the issue here is not about free speech or the preservation of creative thinking in America.

Rather, it is about common decency and a little respect for those with whom we share this small, fragile planet; however different they may be.

ERIC S. BLAYLOCK

Herndon

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This is in response to Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker's punishment. I had hoped that, with the end of the millennium, we also would have seen the end of so-called political correctness.

While I do not condone the remarks of Rocker, I think that there is something very wrong with the response those remarks have received.

There was a time when there was a place for dissension in this country; indeed, we took pride in having that freedom. Our founders rebelled against taxation without representation, a president took us to war on the premise that we were the "United" States, a black man lost his life for expressing the ideal that all men are created equal. In their time, these were especially dangerous thoughts and were not shared by all citizens. But they had one very important and common component: They were allowed to be heard and discussed.

We must not stifle a person's right to express his innermost thoughts. In our society, these thoughts must be given verbal expression whether they are lofty or base.

When we punish a person's right to free expression, as we are doing with Rocker, we run the risk of providing fuel to any number of hate-filled individuals and groups. We also move closer to losing a cherished right.

Better that we allow all voices to be heard and blended harmoniously than be forced to listen to just one note.

MICHAEL W. MORRISON

Gaithersburg

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