Equal Pay for Women - A Reply to Sanders, an explanation, and a Non-government solution
Mr. Sanders is candid on his web Site.  We’ve reprinted the headers to each issue verbatim.  Let’s let open-minded voters address them here.

Bernie Sanders:  We must also establish equal pay for women. It’s unconscionable that women earn less than men for performing the same work. 

Mark Stewart replies: Bernie, you and most progressives like you know that very few employers are misogynists.  Women are not stupid; they would not work for truly malicious woman-haters.  In a largely-free market for their skills, they would not subordinate themselves to permanently unfair employers, particularly ones who are anti-woman.

The reason most women who experience differential pay stay in their careers is because they know that the employers are not applying rules unfairly.  The differences in pay owe greatly to A) choice of profession (too few women in high-paying science careers), B) career commitment (women take advantage of the beautiful calling called child-rearing), and C) what I call “fear of career commitment” (the employer who expects a woman to take time off, or drop to part-time work, is less likely to give her long-term career-enhancing positions).  Without these three factors, pay rates for women would be far higher.  

None of these factors are anti-woman.  They are at worst anti-parent.  Were males dedicated as much to parenting as females, these males would also see pay diminutions.  Again, these are not discriminating against women AS women.  Even if these three could be adjusted for, pay equity will be imperfect.  That’s because some women’s situations make them discriminate against their own ability to command higher salaries.

Why are women of equal standing and doing the same work as men often still underpaid?  I offer five answers.  (To progressives, each of these will sound “sexist”, but read them anyways):

1. ) Women may not speak up for themselves as much as men when it comes to asserting proper pay.  

2. ) Women tend to opt for financial safety.  This is legendary when it comes to financial investing, and it probably applies to career investing – craving safety more than men, women more often opt for the safe-and-sure.  They are less likely to rock the boat in a way that could get them fired.  They are less likely to stand up for a raise that could mean dismissal.

3. ) Single mothers have almost NO safety net.  A woman who has to clothe, house, and feed two children on her own can’t last a month with no pay.  She’ll take the lower-price offer of sure pay to assure her children don’t go without.  Single men rarely are the sole providers for children.  Since single men tend to only take care of themselves, they can better afford to roll the dice with an employer and say “pay me more now, or I’m leaving”.

4. ) Traditional criteria for salaries reward work experience.   But few employers include “managing a husband, kids, and a household” as relevant work experience.

5. ) Traditional criteria for promotion and salaries rewards longevity in a firm.  Here, even the liberal, open-minded employer who would credit a woman’s 15 years of home-making and child-raising STILL can’t compare the woman fairly against the man who had 15 extra years IN THAT VERY FIRM.

Notice these all can be rectified when women have BETTER bargaining power.  Thus the stark difference between the Sanders solution and the Stewart solution.

Mr. Sanders and I each want to help underpaid women.  Mr. Sanders would use Big Government, including armies of lawyers; I would use volunteers and the Free Market.  The Sanders Big Government solution is “equal pay for equal work” legislation.  These laws would take employers to court for alleged unfairness.  Lawyers on both sides become consumed in what workplace similarities exist among women and men of the plaintiff’s age and experience; they intrude on the workplace, including the men and women still there trying to get their work done.   

The Sanders solution must inevitably go to the employer’s state of mind – the inquisitors will demand “why did you choose to raise that man’s pay and not that woman’s?”.  What smoking guns are in your Human Resource files?  What’s in your computer?   What former employees might now have a grudge against you and come before us?  What in your private life evidences misogyny?  What did you do in college that may have angered a woman?   Even if left to the here and now, the inquisitors will get into Thought-crimes by employers and their H.R. subordinates.  Meanwhile the plaintiff, often a woman out of a job, twists in the wind.  As a litigant she is now anathema to almost any FUTURE employer!  (And Bernie, withheld hiring CAN’T be policed – don’t even try.).

The Stewart Solution: volunteerism and the Free Market.  I urge advocates for women to assist them in their workplace bargaining.  Every law school has talented women (and men) in their legal aid clinics.  Let them use their advocacy skills on behalf of women who are not getting the pay they deserve.

These advocates help women who are meek, or who are afraid to rock the boat.  These advocates can call on outside evidence to show that a woman’s 20 years’ experience managing a household and raising solid children is often more valuable than a man’s 20 stodgy conservative, institutional years. These advocates help women who might not realize their worth to the employer, or who might not realize their potential worth to OTHER employers.  Finally, these advocates could become negotiators.  “My client is more productive than the man who is earning $5 per hour more; make restitution and get her at least a $5/hr. raise or she goes elsewhere.”  Even better: “make restitution and get her at least a $5/hr. raise or she goes elsewhere, you PIG.”

Women and their advocates have tremendous armor in this fight: it’s called the Free Market.  It’s what allows a talented woman to move to an employer who will treat her better.  Sadly, progressives don’t recognize the private Free Market power.  They instead offer Big Government power.  Progressives, especially those calling themselves “femininsts” should take heed: the Free Market is the best friend of true feminism.

Ironically, the one area where women have reduced choice in movement is government careers.  Government employment is not the Free Market.  If NASA says “this is your pay”, a NASA-employed woman really can’t find equivalent work elsewhere.  If a woman works for the state’s labor department, ironically, there is no equivalent, unless another state’s labor department allows her to telecommute.  Government service is thus the hardest place for a woman to fight pay discrimination.

The Stewart Solution II: employees discriminated against by their government employers should embrace the downsizing that my campaign calls for.  Talented government employees will always find a place in private business, likely at higher wages.  (Though benefits may not be as high, remember your current government benefit is not secure.)  In the first six months of my administration, each federal employee will be asked “how can you serve the public better?”  Those with good private-market solutions will get funding from me to launch their own organization or business.  They’ll use their expertise in the field to build a business of their own (or join one) with less bureaucracy and with government + investor seed money.  You will literally have a slot on a version of “Shark Tank” if you wish to raise even more money.This is capitalism at work, with a semi-bureaucratic transition.  This is what America in general and female employees in particular, can expect in the coming four years.  We welcome you to Free Market feminism, the best there is.