- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

Wages of feminismIt is against the law to pay similarly qualified men and women different wages for the same job. Simple, right? Then why is it that President Clinton announced last week that he wants Congress to spend $10 million to train 3,000 employers and 1,000 "staff inspectors" about equal-pay laws? And what about the $17 million he wants Congress to pass on to the Labor Department to help train women for fields they tend not to pursue, such as computer science? Claiming that women earn only 75 cents for every dollar men earn, Mr. Clinton combined his funding appeal with a new plug for the so-called "paycheck fairness act," a bill defeated in the last legislative session that would have brought the government into the marketplace to monitor the so-called wage gap scary thought and set about closing it, which is even scarier.Mr. Clinton may speak the uncontroversial, even soothing language of equality he claims to seek nothing more than "equal pay for equal work" but he is in fact pushing the government to enforce a dangerously dictatorial, not to mention illogical, policy of equal pay for different work. Remember comparable worth? This is the feminist chestnut Mr. Clinton is dusting off, much to the pleasure of feminist supporters who stood by their man during his impeachment trials and tribulations. This theory which courts have rejected sets out to determine the value of a job according to criteria that have nothing to do with the free market; typically, they value traditionally female occupations, such as stenography, more highly than traditionally male occupations, such as trucking.The whole thing stems from the misleading statistic that women earn only 75 cents for every dollar men earn. But this ratio compares all women's salaries with all men's salaries, ignoring the often divergent career paths taken by the sexes. The fact is, 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. In so doing, they accumulate, on the whole, fewer years of job experience, which is often a factor in setting salary. And not only do most women fail to gravitate toward such highly paid fields as engineering or high technology, many actually seek lighter, less lucrative work loads that better suit family life.Mr. Clinton's wage gap reflects not sex discrimination, then, but rather the choices women freely make in their pursuit of happiness. Worth noting is the fact that fresh out of school, as a 1998 Business Week survey shows, men and women actually receive the same average starting salaries in such fields as consulting, finance and marketing. According to the Independent Women's Forum, among childless men and women between the ages of 27 and 33, women's earnings approach 98 percent of men's earnings not a gap to get too worked up about.What is this really all about? Clearly, salary injustice is not rampant across the land; women are hardly suffering in quasi-feudal servitude. It is also clear, however, that women, liberated though they may be, have failed, to date, to evolve into men. The wage gap, as feminists like to tally it, reflects the reality that 80 percent of women still bear children and order their existence in such a way as to put family duty before their workaday lives. Mr. Clinton and his ideological cohorts would like to do their bit to "correct" this, whether by wasting millions of dollars on training programs to bring women into fields they already eschew, or by forcing society to pay for the intrinsic differences between the sexes. This is not what government is for.

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