Liberals across the country celebrated National Equal Pay Day this week – a pseudo-holiday Democrats worship as part of the manufactured “War on Women.”
As if they were all singing from the same hymnal, Maine Democrats took to social media bemoaning inequality and demanding action.
“On #EqualPay Day, let’s make sure America’s hardworking women get equal pay they deserve,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.
“Tell Republicans that women deserve equal pay for equal work,” commanded Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.
“It’s sad that in 2014, we’re still talking about pay equity,” Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, sanctimoniously tweeted.
Ironically, Michaud, Pingree and Alfond all pay the average man in their offices more than the average woman.
The Democratic wage gap
According to federal payroll records, Michaud paid the male staffers in his congressional office an average of $14,078 in the last quarter of 2013, but paid his female employees only $11,695. During the same period, Pingree’s average male workers made $13,172, while her average female employee made $11,385.
Michaud paid females 83 cents for every dollar paid to a man. Pingree’s female staffers make 86 cents for every dollar a man makes.
But the biggest wage gap hypocrisy is in Augusta. Last year, in the Senate Democratic Office, full-time male employees made on average $14,110 more than their female counterparts.
Lest you think the wage gap endemic to political offices, consider this: Female employees in the state Senate Republican Office on average make more than male staffers.
So, who’s waging that war on women? The answer, of course, is no one.
Lying with statistics
The Democrats’ wage-gap talk is cheap rhetoric. It’s made of the same victim politics that has for generations sustained the left. The hope is that complaining loudly about the American woman being underpaid will bear fruit on Election Day.
Federal data do show that the median incomes of all women who work full time are 77 percent of the median incomes of all full-time male workers. And liberals use this stat out of context to give the impression that women working side by side men are paid less.
But when liberals calculate the gap, they don’t compare apples to apples. Or rather, they don’t compare doctors to doctors, teachers to teachers, etc. They fail to account for a fact borne out in data – that is, men and women generally choose different career paths and adopt different work habits.
Sometimes, however, it’s not just a failure to contextualize. Sometimes mendacious politicians deliberately mislead. From a Michaud campaign email: “(W)omen here in Maine are still paid about 79 cents for every dollar a man earns at the same job.” (emphasis mine)
That “at the same job” claim is 100 percent, four-Pinocchios, if-you-like-your-plan-you-can-keep-it false. Let me explain.
First, there are quantitative differences between the work habits of men and women.
According to state figures, 91 percent of men working full time in 2012 (i.e., working at least 35 hours per week) worked 40 hours or more; only 82 percent of full-time female workers held a similar schedule. There are also qualitative differences. Men, for example, are more likely to pursue careers in engineering, while women are more likely to become teachers or social workers. In Maine, 42.1 percent of Maine women work in education or health care compared to 12.8 percent of men. Contrariwise, 26.3 percent of Maine men work in construction or manufacturing, while only 6.3 percent of women embrace such professions.
More work, more pay. Different jobs, different wages. This isn’t sexist. It’s fact. And it explains any wage disparity better than some phony war.
Market fosters wage equality
The most powerful force in favor of pay equality is the free market. Imagine, for a moment, two tech businesses competing for talent in the Portland area.
CEO Nietzsche decides, because he’s the misogynist pig of feminists’ imaginations, to pay men more than equally valuable women. The women are free to seek employment elsewhere and likely will.
CEO Stanton, because she’s a good, value-seeking capitalist, doesn’t let gender influence payroll, but pays each according to experience, competence and value creation. She’ll be able to attract the qualified female employees her foolhardy competitor rejected. She wins.
Those who think equal pay between the sexes can be achieved only by government intervention either misunderstand market forces or greatly underestimate the capability of the American woman.
Steven E. Robinson is editor of TheMaineWire.Com and a policy analyst for The Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be contacted at: