A Young Cafe Hayek Patron Impresses

by Don Boudreaux on July 20, 2014

in Hubris and humility, Seen and Unseen, Work

John Nagle just graduated from high school in San Diego.  This Fall he’ll start college, as a political-science major, at American University in Washington, DC.  I don’t know Mr. Nagle, but on Friday he sent me a lovely e-mail expressing his appreciation for what Russ and I do at Cafe Hayek.  I would like to believe that Mr. Nagle’s already well-honed good sense and impressive knowledge are the result of his reading Cafe Hayek regularly, but I suspect that the real causes are good parents, good teachers, and Mr. Nagle’s own natural smarts.

How do I know that Mr. Nagle has well-honed good sense and impressive knowledge?  The evidence is below.  It’s a letter that he wrote in response to his Congressional representative, Scott Peters (D-CA), bragging about supporting legislation to close the ‘gender wage gap.’  I reproduce Mr. Nagle’s response here, in full, with his kind permission.  (And I look forward to treating Mr. Nagle to lunch when he arrives in a few weeks here in the Potomac swamp.)

Today I received a mailer from your campaign.  In it Congressman Peters addresses a letter to his “Fellow San Diegan[s]” which states that “it is unacceptable to me that women earn less than men for the same work.”  The letter goes on to state that nationally women earn “77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts” and that this disparity is even more pronounced (“75 cents”) in the 52nd District.

However, the Congressman assures his constituents that he is “working to erase that disparity.” In fact, Mr. Peters states that he supports the Paycheck Fairness Act which he promises would “end this wage disparity.”

I am sorry to inform the Congressman that his objections come about 50 years too late.  The Equal Pay Act, signed into law by President Kennedy on June 10, 1963, already made gender pay discrimination a federal crime.  However, the bill he puts forth to end this alleged injustice is really a bill designed to enrich trial lawyers and to be used as a talking point to rally misinformed women to vote for Democrats.

However, given that gender pay discrimination has been illegal for more than half a century, if the Congressman is truly committed to “erase that disparity” as he sanctimoniously states in his letter, he may go about that in one or more of the following ways:

First, the Congressman could introduce a bill to restrict women’s ability to work fewer hours than her male counterparts to shrink the gender wage gap.  The plain fact is that one of the largest contributors to the wage disparity between men and women is the simple fact that men, on average, work longer hours than women.  In fact, of full time workers, 26% of males work more than 40 hours per week, compared to just 14% of women (How Pew Research measured the gender pay gap | Pew Research Center).  However, this can be easily remedied by government forcing men and women to work the exact same hours per week, their own personal preferences be damned!

Second, the Congressman could introduce a bill to coerce women to go into male dominated fields that they themselves have not chosen to enter.  Some of the most male dominated majors and career fields also happen to be the most lucrative, such as engineering, computer science, and business.  The fact that most women choose not to enter these fields should not stop the Congressman from attempting to get the government involved to force women to go into them, if he is serious about closing the wage gap.  As an aside, the Congressman may also, in the name of equality and wage parity, seek to force men to enter women dominated (and relatively low pay) fields such as psychology, education, and gender studies.

Third, the Congressman could introduce a bill mandating that men and women devote equal amounts of time to raising children and other household responsibilities.  Why allow individual couples the power to decide how do divide up domestic responsibilities when it could be dictated to them by their enlightened rulers in Washington DC?  The fact that most women actually enjoy and get substantial satisfaction from raising their own children should not dissuade the Congressman from attempting to stamp out this root cause behind the gender wage gap.

Upon even a cursory look at the evidence, it is abundantly clear the the gender wage gap is not chiefly (if at all) a result of discrimination or some eery unjust force that needs to be battled with legislation.  Rather it is a result in the difference choices that men and women make.

Thus if the Congressman is genuinely committed to ending this wage gap he will have no other option than to use the coercive power of the federal government to make women (and, to a lesser extent, men) do that which they would not themselves choose to do.

That hardly seems like the position of a man who purports himself to be “pro-choice.”

Sincerely,
John Nagle

It is reassuring to know that young men and women such as Mr. Nagle are out there, thinking soundly for themselves and not being taken in by the idiotic superstitions of statism.

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