“Obama proposes new rules to close the gender pay gap even though there’s a 16% gender pay gap in his White House”

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My preface to this link is to indicate my primary reason for posting this article is to point out the hypocrisy of the Obama administration, which seems to use whatever pretext it can in order to propose onerous regulations and government intrusions into the market by diktat. Meanwhile, his own administration has a gender pay gap about as large as the statistics he flouts and which he flogs as a pretext for government action.  There is a broader narrative here that needs to be explored before summoning the dark power of the government in a pursuit of injustice it will inevitably find, whatever the merits of opposing views and irrespective of the facts, as any government agency so unleashed continues to seek to justify its existence and budget. Our agitator in chief seems to fail to recognize the role of normalized data sets and statistics, either out of ignorance or worse, out of deliberate manipulation of statistics for political purposes.

 

As a person that has spanned different environments ranging from the military, business school, and now a business career, I give my full and vocal support for equality of women at all levels of leadership. From my vantage point, this inevitably leads to more sound strategic and execution decisions that are greatly enhanced and enabled by a diversified team. I don’t intend to make any generalizations here, but women on a leadership team can make all the difference between a rash and groupthink decisions to a more balanced and thoughtful approach. Women that I went to business school with were remarkably talented, and it was particularly impressive to see those that went on to high-powered quantitative fields in investment banking or consulting. However, there is merit to what the article lays out in differences in career choices. More often than not, my business school women peers chose career paths similar to mine: marketing or general management, which has us all looking up at the more stratospheric salary heights of the consultants and investment bankers. I highly doubt many of us would trade places though. What we gave up in salary we gain in less work, less travel, and more flexibility. The stories of some of my (overwhelmingly male) investment bank counterparts working until midnight on a regular basis is enough to keep me content with a more modest salary. Thus, a blanket average approach may not be the best way to ferret out societal problems. In a similar vein and back to the article,  the key statement is this:

Bottom Line: As I wrote last summer in my post about the gender pay gap at the White House, President Obama, politicians and the gender pay gap activists can’t have it both ways, either: a) there are gender pay differences throughout the economy and in any organization including at the White House, which can be explained by factors other than gender discrimination including age, years of continuous work experience, education, differences in positions, hours worked, marital status, number of children, workplace environment and safety, industry differences, etc., or b) any gender pay gap in aggregate, unadjusted salaries automatically exposes gender discrimination – including the White House – and Obama needs to explain why he is “waging a war on his own women staffers” by paying them less than men on average.

So either: a) there is a glass ceiling at the White House and Discriminator-in-Chief Obama is guilty himself of paying his female staffers significantly less than men by $12,350 per year on average, or b) Obama is guilty of statistical fraud and deception for continuing to spread misinformation about the alleged discrimination-based gender pay gap at the national level with bogus claims like “Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”

I also rather enjoyed the contribution of Professor Donald J. Boudreaux, author of the phenomenal Cafe Hayek blog:

Mr. Obama:

In remarks today supporting government regulations designed to close the so-called gender pay gap, you asked rhetorically “What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?”

I’m tempted to ask different questions, such as: What kind of example does your abuse of statistics in order to politically grandstand set for our sons and daughters? (Surely you know that this ‘gap’ virtually disappears when the statistics are properly controlled for differences in women’s and men’s career choices.) Or what kind of example does your incurable itch to officiously second guess and to coercively interfere with voluntary contractual arrangements between consenting adults set for our sons and daughters?

But instead I’ll grant, for argument’s sake, the premise of your complaint about the “pay gap” and ask a different question: What kind of example does your own White House – in which, as documented by economist Mark Perry, the median salary of female employees is 16 percent lower than the median salary of male employees – set for your two daughters?

Perhaps you should stop shoving your nose into other people’s affairs and attend to your own.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics

Let me state unequivocally that there should not be a glass ceiling. As a man with three daughters and as someone with a blue collar background, I am as much of an advocate at busting up good ol’ boy clubs as anyone. That being said, I would not want to do so with the uninvited government regulators, who represent just as much of their own good ol’ boys network as any business. Echoing Milton Friedman, just where are we going to find these angels that will do the right thing and structure business appropriately for us through a heavy handed government approach? The big difference between business and government is the market is a relentless form of pushing companies to make optimal decisions. If a company can outcompete by employing and appropriately paying one half of the work force and thus getting more of them and getting higher productivity, a company would most surely do so, and this first mover advantage would quickly be replicated in the market. The government agency, on the other hand, has no true source of accountability.

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