Last week, apparently forgetting that the Internet exists, the (now former) Vice-Chair of the Wasatch County Republican Party, James Green, submitted a letter to the editor about the injustice of a suggested Equal Pay bill in Utah to his hometown newspaper. In the letter, titled “Equal Pay for Women Has Consequences,” James Green detailed his concerns about passing the bill in his state… And no surprise, it’s super misogynistic and extremely flawed.
Thank god for men who represent the GOP. I mean without them we wouldn’t know how detrimental passing an equal pay will would be for American men. Look, I’m of the mind that there are different ways to approach things like economic policy—what I think makes most sense and what you do could be different but equally valid—but… Wow. These guys really have a way of putting their foot in their mouths, don’t they? In fairness, Green later said that his intention was not to “offend women,” but to point out that he feels the government shouldn’t interfere in private business… Okay. Sure. You tell me…
Like, seriously, I almost cannot believe that this was written and published in 2017.
Editor: Here’s the problem with the Equal Pay bill being considered by the Utah Legislature… Traditionally men have earned more than women in the workplace because they are considered the primary breadwinners for families. They need to make enough to support their families and allow the Mother to remain in the home to raise and nurture the children.
If businesses are forced to pay women the same as male earnings, that means they will have to reduce the pay for the men they employ… simple economics. If that happens, then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more Mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference.
And as even more women thus enter the workforce that creates more competition for jobs (even men’s jobs) and puts further downward pressure on the pay for all jobs… meaning more and more Mothers will be forced into the workforce. And that is bad for families and thus for all of society.
It’s a vicious cycle that only gets worse the more equality of pay is forced upon us. It’s a situation of well-meaning intentions, but negative unintended consequences.
We should encourage our Legislators to drop the whole notion. Let the marketplace determine what free-market forces should prevail. It is not the role of government to dictate to businesses what they should pay anyway… either as a Minimum Wage or Equal Pay for men and women.
James C. Green, The Wasatch Wave – Letters to the Editor 2 15 17
Wow. Wow, wow, WOW.
Where to even begin?
First of all, his core argument is flawed. Arguing that the government shouldn’t make sure that everyone gets equal pay for equal work because it hasn’t in the past is… Not an argument. Literally every piece of legislature in history was passed to ensure that things changed in some way. Sorry, dude. I’m not even a politician and even I understand that.
Second of all, his assertion that men make more because they are the “breadwinners” is just not true—or at least not in the way that he puts it. There is the fact that according to a 2013 survey by the Department of Labor, 67.8% of mother with children under 18 years old work which would mean that well more than half of married women are contributing to their personal finances. Further, in families where both parents are present 69.9% of mothers and 89.2% of fathers work.
Meanwhile, this letter’s focus on the honestly ridiculous assertion that equal pay would somehow “force” married women into the workplace misses the plight of those who are most affected by the wage gap. The discussion of married women who will miss out on their lifelong dreams of being stay-at-home moms because their husbands might make less completely ignores the fact that there are huge numbers of single mothers out there who are unable to feed their families despite having full-time jobs. How is it just to say that those women deserve less than a single father who is struggling to do the same simply because men have traditionally made more money?
And to those of you who are currently thinking “but, the man is struggling, too,” you’re right. Obviously you’re right, but the question here is why should the woman struggle more? The issue of raising the minimum wage is a different discussion for a different day.
Lastly, the bill that he was arguing against (Utah’s Equal Pay Amendments, SBO210) doesn’t actually say that employers must pay men and women “the same,” rather that employers must be clear, direct, and uniform in regards to the criteria on which pay and raised decisions are based. The thing about equal pay bills is that they’re not usually demanding that all women be paid the same as all men in every context, rather that employers end their policies of unfairly favoring white, male employees over female employees and specifically female employees of color. Those are two very different things when you get down to it.
So, okay, those are the huge, tangible, fundamental, flaws in this argument, but that’s not all that’s wrong here. The biggest problem here is the typical, anti-progress logic—that somehow, making things better for a marginalized group will have an inherently negative impact on the group that has been at an advantage historically. That line of reasoning has always proven wrong.
Look, I can kind of see how his “simple economics” argument makes sense. If you don’t think about it too much.
I’m no mathematician or economist, but I do have relatively spectacular logical reasoning skills (for a woman, of course), so here’s the thing: the time that James Green and those like him seem to want to return to is one in which women were not in the workforce, right?
A time in which all the workers were men, so in theory they were all paid “the same,” or at least their pay was evaluated on set criteria without bias (I know that’s not entirely true, but it was supposed to be true). If paying everyone in the workforce at the same rate for the same work worked then, then why won’t it work now? If you factor out the fact that we’re talking about something that purports to level the playing field for women specifically, well, I don’t see why any person would oppose it.
Except for one reason.
Considering that the particular bill that this was written in opposition to basically just acknowledges that there is a pay gap and requires that companies be more transparent about pay rates for jobs, his “economic concerns” ring hollow. What men like Green are scared of is not, as he says the impending inability of men to support families where the mothers would “prefer to stay home,” it’s fear of financial equality between the genders, which would apparently be seen by Green as an admission that women are, in fact, equal.
The only thing that he really has to fear is that when graded fairly and directly against a woman, a man somewhere might not get the benefit of his privilege any more.
Well, boo-hoo for him.