EDITORIAL: Fairness is not equality

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Barack Obama has lately confused his adjectives when speaking to the supposed equality flaws in America’s employment system. What he should say and what this country needs is fair pay for women, which is not the same as equal pay. But that has not not stopped him from linking natural social behaviors to issues of equality in an attempt to convince single working mothers to cast their votes for him in November. If Mr. Obama’s profound logic was used, then it would follow that Mr. Obama himself is a hypocrite because the women working in his Senate office are outnumbered and outpaid by men.

According to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007, women in Mr. Obama’s office were being paid at least $6,000 less than men working for the Illinois senator. Also, of the five people in Mr. Obama’s Senate office who were paid $100,000 annually, only one - Mr. Obama’s administrative manager - was a woman. So, is the presumptive Democratic nominee really a hypocrite? Isn’t he guilty of the very discrimination he claims plagues corporate America? It is certainly easy to take this position, and many will have a field day doing so. In fact, such an analysis is only doing what Mr. Obama himself is guilty of: taking sound-bite statistics and using them for political advantage.

What the situation needs is a little common sense. All the relevant factors that affect pay - occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked - are ignored by those citing the wage gap. As a result, this inadequately researched viewpoint fails to consider the different roles that work tends to play in men and women’s lives. In truth, thousands of women freely choose to be the reason for their own “unequal” pay. Many women have a good education and work full-time for 10 years or so. Over time, they tend to make their homes, families or hobbies a priority. Many women seek out a specialty or an employer that encourages balanced work and family life.

Surveys have also shown that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation; they take more time off and they spend fewer hours in the office. The logic is not so complex that Mr. Obama and his campaign managers cannot come to the same conclusion. They are simply ignoring common sense so that Mr. Obama can advocate social engineering in the name of equality.

So, what Mr. Obama is really guilty of is being an “old” politician. He is taking an emotional issue and playing it to his advantage. Perhaps the better option for Mr. Obama is to use some common sense and seek fairness and justice for all American workers.

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