Voting on "Good Intentions": The Paycheck Fairness Act Fails

Kevin Glass
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Posted: Nov 17, 2010 12:02 PM
Shock and horror! The "Paycheck Fairness Act," intended to rectify inequities in the pay gap between men and women, failed to gain cloture in the Senate today. How could we as a nation continue to be so misogynistic?

Well, it turns out that good intentions don't make good legislation, and just because President Obama calls something "common sense" doesn't make it so. Even the MSM's own Washington Post editorial board came out against the Paycheck Fairness Act:

This approach also could make employers vulnerable to attack for responding to market forces. Take an employer who gives a hefty raise to a valued male employee who has gotten a job offer from a competitor. Would a court agree that the raise advanced a legitimate business purpose or could the employer be slammed unless he also bumps up the salary of a similarly situated female employee?

Discrimination is abhorrent, but the Paycheck Fairness Act is not the right fix.

And this is all notwithstanding the vastly-exaggerated pay gap, as Christina Hoff Summers writes:

But the bill isn’t as commonsensical as it might seem. It overlooks mountains of research showing that discrimination plays little role in pay disparities between men and women, and it threatens to impose onerous requirements on employers to correct gaps over which they have little control...

But that wage gap isn’t necessarily the result of discrimination. On the contrary, there are lots of other reasons men might earn more than women, including differences in education, experience and job tenure.

When these factors are taken into account the gap narrows considerably — in some studies, to the point of vanishing. A recent survey found that young, childless, single urban women earn 8 percent more than their male counterparts, mostly because more of them earn college degrees.

The scary thing is, with such across-the-spectrum agreement on what is a poorly-written and harmful bill, it was still able to gain 58 votes. That's what happens when you vote on good intentions without actually realizing what the consequences are.