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Winning the Messaging Battle, Part I

Fun: Kamala Harris Demands Fines for 'Equal Pay' Violators, Pays Women Less in Own Senate Office

California Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris rolled out a new proposal that would impose government fines on businesses that fail to achieve a federally-imposed definition of pay equality between the sexes.  Democrats have long flogged the so-called 'pay gap' as a persistent example of gender inequality, passing and introducing various pieces of legislation to fix what they describe as a discrimination-based social ill.  Harris' plan would levy heavy penalties on employers who aren't up to snuff on this front, according to the government:


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, one of two dozen Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination, on Monday proposed closing the gender pay gap by requiring companies to disclose pay data and secure an “equal pay certification” or be fined...Harris said her plan would incentivize corporations to close the pay gap, because “There will be penalties if they don’t.” Under Harris’ proposal, which would require approval by the U.S. Congress, companies with 100 or more employees would give their pay data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They would also have to prove existing pay gaps were not based on gender but merit, performance or seniority...Companies falling short of the criteria would be fined 1% of their profits for every 1% wage gap found after adjusting for variables such as experience and performance. Harris’ campaign said it estimated the plan would generate $180 billion over a decade, with revenue falling as new pay policies are adopted. The fines would go to offset the cost of universal paid family and medical leave policies she backs.

Let's pause for a reminder that empirical data has repeatedly demonstrated that nearly all of the gender-related 'pay gap' within the American workforce is attributable not to discriminatory practices, but to choices made by workers and other fair factors. A recent Harvard study that examined wage disparities within one employment setting underscored the universal patterns:

[The researchers] look at data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). This is a union shop with uniform hourly wages where men and women adhere to the same rules and receive the same benefits. Workers are promoted on the basis of seniority rather than performance, and male and female workers of the same seniority have the same choices for scheduling, routes, vacation, and overtime. There is almost no scope here for a sexist boss to favor men over women. And yet, even here, Emanuel and Bolotnyy find that female train and bus operators earn less than their male counterparts. From this observation, they go looking for possible causes, examining time cards and scheduling from 2011 to 2017 and factoring in sex, age, date of hire, tenure, and whether an employee was married or had dependents.

They find that male train and bus drivers worked about 83 percent more overtime than their female colleagues and were twice as likely to accept an overtime shift—which pays time-and-a-half—on short notice and that around twice as many women as men never took overtime. The male workers took 48 percent fewer unpaid hours off under the Family Medical Leave Act each year. Female workers were more likely to take less desirable routes if it meant working fewer nights, weekends, and holidays. Parenthood turns out to be an important factor. Fathers were more likely than childless men to want the extra cash from overtime, and mothers were more likely to want time off than childless women. “The gap of $0.89 in our setting,” the authors concluded, “can be explained entirely by the fact that, while having the same choice sets in the workplace, women and men make different choices.”

We've also documented in recent years how some of the loudest purveyors of poll-tested and misleading "equal pay" talking points fail to meet their own standards: From Hillary Clinton, to a bevy of Senate Democrats, to the Obama White House. In light of Harris' government "solution" to a greatly exaggerated problem, some observers asked how her own office or campaign might fare under the rubric she's proposing:

And here's your answer, courtesy of the Washington Free Beacon:

In her Senate office's most recent six-month disclosure, covering the period from April 1, 2018, through Sept. 31, 2018, the median male salary disbursement was $34,999 and the median female salary disbursement was $32,999, leaving women with just 94 cents of every dollar paid to men. The gender pay gap for the previous six-month period, during which the median male salary was $27,167 and the median female salary was $25,749.97, was a nearly identical 6 percent. The pay gap was even greater during the first full month of Harris's presidential campaign in February—the median female salary disbursement for the month, $5,763.97, was about 87 percent of the median male salary disbursement, $6,632.23, a further analysis of her campaign filing found.

There would be no 'profits' for the government to garnish as punishment for Harris' apparent affronts to gender equality (based on the Left's clumsy calculations), of course, but the point stands.  If her criteria for job creators applied to political operations, one could only hope that Harris' lawyers would manage to justify her pay gaps as rooted entirely in merit, in order to escape bruising fines.  I'll leave you with this: "The unemployment rate for women fell last month to 3.1%, the lowest point since 1953."

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