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« Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 525 -- Union Membership On The Rise. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 527 -- Government Spending More Than Doubled Since 1965, Even After Inflation Taken Into Account. »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 526 -- Obama's Gender Inequality.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do-

The first major legislation President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturns a Supreme Court decision. Some background and analysis on the move:

Lilly, who worked for Goodyear from 1979 through 1998, filed a discrimination claim in May 1998 alleging that she had to rebuff sexual advances of her foreman boss in the early 1980’s, and that his unflattering write-ups of her work led to her being underpaid for nearly 20 years. Having stayed on the job, collected money for working and retired receiving additional benefits, she subsequently sought compensatory and punitive damages for actions dating back more than 20 years prior to the time of the trial.

A jury awarded her $228,438 in back pay (including $4,662 for mental anguish), and $3,285,979 in punitive damages. The alleged harrassing supervisor was dead by the time of the trial, so it was Ms. Ledbetter's word against his coffin. She then conflated her sexual harassment claims along with a claim of equal pay for equal work, inviting a mind numbing review of her roles over the years. The case ended at the Supreme Court in 2007, which overturned this psychodrama by insisting that EEOC claims of discrimination be made within 180 days of the actual discrimination.

Ms. Ledbetter may or may not have had a case of sexual harassment. I am genuinely sympathetic to sexual discrimination, and I am positive that it still happens today. There may be many women like her. But how is this new law anything but an opening of the trial lawyer floodgates?

Can you imagine how many companies, big and small, that might now be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay and millions of dollars in anguish pay for office interactions that may or may not have taken place a generation ago, before public service ads like these became so ubiquitous during the 1980s:

While the path to this bill signing was assuredly paved with good intentions, so is the road to hell. The consequences of this bill might not be all that great for women:

When Congress passed the higher minimum wage law in May of 2007, teenage unemployment was about 15%. One year later, it was over 20%--the unintended consequence of making teens more expensive to hire. I guess that by this summer it will be 25% to 30%.

Lilly’s Law may have a similar impact on women. From December 2007 through December 2008, men’s unemployment rate went from 4.4% to 7.2%, while women’s unemployment rate went from 4.3% to 5.9%. Women are employed at higher rates so there must be widespread discrimination, right? One unintended consequence of this act may in fact be greater discrimination against women. Given two equal candidates for a NEW job, the female may now be viewed as carrying greater financial risk from the increased long-term potential for litigation because of Lilly Ledbetter’s Act. And perhaps fewer women will be hired compared to men.

If the unemployment rate for women had been heading towards 8% in the next year or so, I would guess Lilly’s Act will add at least one or two percent to their top unemployment rate and it will add to the number of hall monitors hired to mitigate liability.

But this law has the words "FAIR PAY ACT" in it. As in, "women only make 80 cents on the dollar, relative to men." As in, we have to fix this. This law does little about that issue, but the Paycheck Fairness Act just might:

The Democratic majority is also resurrecting the concept of "comparable worth" with the Paycheck Fairness Act. This idea holds that only discrimination can explain why female-dominated professions (teachers, secretaries) tend to command lower wages than male-dominated professions (plumbers, truck drivers). Yet most of these pay disparities are explained by relative experience, schooling or job characteristics. Teachers do tend to earn less than truck drivers, despite more education. Then again, truck drivers work long, hard, often unpredictable hours....

The paycheck fairness legislation would nonetheless require labor officials to use comparable worth in creating "voluntary" wage guidelines for industries. Voluntary or not, these guidelines would become the basis for more litigation against companies that didn't follow them. Meanwhile, the bill strips companies of certain defenses against claims of sex-based pay discrimination. It also makes it easier to bring class actions, and it allows plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.

Sounds like more trial lawyer enabling and more government meddling.

While the idea that plumbers and truck drivers make a good comparison to teachers and receptionists is laughable on its face, there still remains a slight gender gap within many industries. Why?

The fact of the matter is that men, on average, still earn more than their female colleagues, because they still have higher education levels (however, more women than men are now receiving higher education degrees), more experience (men don't take years off to raise kids), work longer hours (there are still a lot of working moms who leave work early to pick up the kids from school), and sign up for more assignments that amount to "hazing" (lots of travel away from home, dealing with high stress situations, etc.) early on in their careers in order to move up the ladder.

When women receive professional degrees of higher education (engineering, law degrees, MBAs, etc.), delay having children, put in long hours, and sign up for tough tasks early in their careers, there is evidence that they actually make more money than their male counterparts. There is also evidence that men simply ask for more raises, while women are more passive in their salary and bonus negotiations.

Our President doesn't seem to understand that there are valid reasons for the wage gap between men and women.

Or does he?

As reported last summer, Obama supports all kinds of new government regulation and bureaucracy, but he doesn't practice what he preaches:

On average, women working in Obama's Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator. That's according to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Of the five people in Obama's Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one -- Obama's administrative manager -- was a woman.

The average pay for the 33 men on Obama's staff (who earned more than $23,000, the lowest annual salary paid for non-intern employees) was $59,207. The average pay for the 31 women on Obama's staff who earned more than $23,000 per year was $48,729.91. (The average pay for all 36 male employees on Obama's staff was $55,962; and the average pay for all 31 female employees was $48,729. The report indicated that Obama had only one paid intern during the period, who was a male.)

National Review also noted the disparity.

Are there probably legitimate reasons for the gender inequality on Obama's staff?

Of course. But isn't this just part of the pattern we see from the Obama administration?

Do as I say, not as I do. Pay higher taxes, while nearly all of my nominees don't even pay their required share. Be more ethical, while my posse is full of some of the most unsavory characters in politics today. Etcetera. Etcetera.

To look at Obama's staffer salaries yourself, visit Legistorm and become aghast at all the sexual discrimination going on there.

In the meantime, let's say a solemn prayer (or meditation, if you're not religious) for the male youth of America, who are actually getting left behind right now (.pdf):


Look at how many more women than men are pursuing college these days.

Women have made amazing strides in higher education, passing up men along the way (.pdf):


We're addressing 1950s and 60s problems-- problems that have found or are finding their own solutions in the marketplace-- more than fifty years later. For a President who was supposed to move us past the rehashed politics of the Vietnam era and Baby Boom generation, Obama sure seems eager to tilt at those gender gap windmills.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Democrats Paying Back Unions For Political Support.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 February 2009 05:26 PM


I hadn't checked on you for a while but I can see you've been making up for lost time.

Welcome Back.

Posted by: Maggie Mama at February 4, 2009 08:00 AM

I have a feeling Obama will be making many more of these popular politically correct decisions. While it sounds great it will end up leading our nation down the drain. While I agree women should make as much as a man for the same job, it is not for the Fed Govt to decide. The Liberal Dems have to have these types of issues and policies to keep their Party alive. It is Social engineering at it's best. These are the kind of decisions that will drive small businesses out of business. Obama does not want to be a One Termer, so these are the type of plans he has in store. It is Popular Political Correctness at it's best!

Posted by: ZsaZsa at February 4, 2009 08:19 AM

The reality of unintended consequences can really bite. I remember learning that lesson in the Peace Corps. A small team of us were doing the first small business survey in Ecuador in the early 1970s. I was interviewing a small business owner. His factory made aluminum frame, louvered windows. I asked him what his future plans were. He said he was constructing a whole new plant down the street, complete with another corporate name, new equipment and a new work force. That seemed odd, since he was also duplicating all his fixed costs. So I asked why. The answer was that he had 25 employees in the current factory and the law said that if he employed more than 25 employees he must invite union (i.e. communist) representation. A death sentence for any small-medium business in Ecuador. Ergo, the outcome of a law to promote worker rights is to discourage much needed investment and lower total employment. We learned of many other investment and employment killing laws that were promulgated with, I assume, the best of leftist intentions. Welcome to the developing world, folks.

Posted by: boqueronman at February 4, 2009 06:36 PM