Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Clue Not Apparent

A couple I know are the union of a church musician and a doctor. When they had kids, they quite logically decided that the church musician would work part time and the doctor full-time, in order to get the best benefit of their combined financial and parenting resources. The church musician did not see the need to peg the earnings needle as the only concern.

Now, my walking around the pronouns will clue you in that the father and husband is the church musician and the mother and wife is the doctor. But every parental couple works the same numbers in making the decisions that are best for their families or help them meet their own personal desires, Very often, the mother decides to stay home during early childhood, or consider the job she wants based on how much freedom it provides her to be with her children, whether or not it offers maternity leave and how much, and so on. Choices like this have a heavy influence on what is called the "wage gap," where the earnings of men and women are compared and the wages paid to women found wanting. More realistic surveys, which control for those kinds of choices and other different career path decisions, show the gap to be narrower.

Senator Kamala Harris, who wants to be the Democratic nominee for president, recently proposed a policy that would require companies to obtain an equal pay certification showing they pay their male and female workers the same, or demonstrate that factors such as experience and performance have caused the gap. Companies which didn't hit that mark or properly document the acceptable reasons for not hitting it would have to pay fines of 1 percent of their daily profits for every day they failed to do so. It's hard to tell from the proposal if the fines would apply to companies which paid female workers more than male workers -- probably a rare happenstance but certainly possible.

There's just one problem. Not with the idea of equal pay for equal work, that's only fair. And not with Sen. Harris's plan, which has far more than one problem. And not with the irony that Senator Harris, as a member of one of the two houses of the legislative branch of the government, could introduce legislation today that could create the certification regime she wants to see happen.

No, this problem is that the men who work for Sen. Harris's legislative and campaign offices make, on average, six percent more than the women. Obvious, Sen. Harris's candidacy can't be supported.

Because of hypocrisy? No, of course not. Every human being manages to display a little hypocrisy, and if hypocrisy by itself would keep you from voting for someone then the first Tuesday in November is just another day for you.

No, it's because of the dumb. Apparently neither Sen. Harris nor anyone in her office, in the leadup to this rollout, thought to take a look at their own pay book to see if they could meet the standard they were calling for. If they had, it might have even helped her push her cause: "Good intentions aren't enough," she might say. "Even when you know equal pay is important, you have to keep a close eye on things or they could get out of balance." She could close with the usual, "I'm Kamala Harris, and I approved this message," but then add in another shot of her surrounded by some female campaign staff. "And if you were thinking of giving to my campaign, you might put a couple of extra dollars in the envelope. Some of my employees just got a raise."

Or some other method of handling the matter -- that's an issue better left to wiser political minds than mine, of which there are many. What's disqualifyingly dumb is to never ask, "Hey, how do our salaries measure up on this?" What's flat-out stupid is to think no one else will ask either, including conservative-leaning news outlets who've done it before.

There's no way I'll be voting for President Trump in November of 2020. Although I'm not unhappy with some of his results, he remains a man of unfit character for the office. I'm currently registered as an independent, but in my state my former party allows independents to vote in its primaries. If for some reason Sen. Harris looks strong by the time our primary elections roll around, I'll definitely take advantage of that opportunity and vote for someone else. If I want a president who overlooks the most basic facts about his or her own policy proposals and isn't smart enough to game out the most obvious responses to them, then I'll just stay home because I'm already watching that show.

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