As expected, the Republicans have once again stalled the Fair Paycheck Act. Scott Walker, that wonderful Governor who thinks unions are Satanists, says that pay inequality is a “bogus issue”. Another “screw the poor” Governor, Rick Perry, says that the debate about fair pay is “nonsense”. Then there is Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, and supporter of GOP Governor hopeful Gregg Abbot, says that inequality pay is nonsense and backs up his statement saying: “Women prefer to stay home with their children. And they also choose lower-paying jobs.”
Unfortunately, both sides of the argument are missing the whole point. This isn’t just about pay inequality, it is about discrimination that has a lifelong effect on the people receiving less money than their counterparts. Conservatives argue that the pay inequality is based on comparing apples and oranges. They like to show how congresswomen receive the same pay as congressmen. Of course, they fail to mention that is because it is the “law” that says women and men in congress get the same pay.
Liberals often cite reference material showing that women make as little as 77 cents per dollar compared to men. Women of color make even less than their male counterparts. These statistics are based on comparing like jobs among men and women. Women often get less money for doing the same work as men. That is pay inequality.
But, it goes even further than that. Lower pay for women costs a whole lot more in future earnings than just their pay. By making less money, women receive less money in their 401K plans, if they have one, and they receive less money from Social Security because their wages are so low. If a woman makes less pay than a man does for doing the same job, their contributions to their 401K plan is automatically less than the man’s because they don’t have the money to put into the plan. Plus, matching contributions from the company are less as well. Since Social Security is based on lifetime earnings, they will receive less money in Social Security payments because they make less money.
That is a big deal. Anyone can see that women who will be getting less income in their retirement will be forced to rely more on social service safety nets. That means you can be forcing them to live in poverty their whole lives, including during retirement. All because you don’t believe a woman should make as much as a man. That is absurd!
Conservatives argue that there are already laws about equal pay. But, they won’t let anyone enforce them. They continuously cut budgets for the Department of Labor. They continuously enforce archaic laws that require silence about pay among employees and no reporting of differences by the companies. They continuously argue for “tort reform” which will limit the damages a company must pay for violating any laws. They also have been arguing that these laws will cause “frivolous law suits”. They are only frivolous if you think that women and men should be paid differently.
Besides, talk about frivolous, wouldn’t trying to eliminate a law of the land over 50 times be considered “frivolous”? That is how many votes the house has held to reduce or completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. That only proves that “frivolous” is solely dependent upon your view of what is right and what is wrong. According to them, it is “right” to vote out a law that helps millions of people, but it is “wrong” to sue for equal pay for equal work. That should tell you all you need to know about the Republican’s worldview.
Liberals need to change their tune when they argue for equal pay. We need to stop just pointing out just the pay inequality at work, and start showing everyone how much it will affect women when they retire, or try to retire. This isn’t just a woman’s issue either. It is a family issue. Married women are also affected. Their comfort in retirement is on the hook, as well as their partner’s. If a woman receives less than she should have during retirement because their pay was lower, then the whole family is affected.
No, pay inequality is not just a workplace issue. It is a lifetime discrimination issue. Republicans don’t seem to think that is a problem. But, then what do you expect from a party who just passed a budget that cuts all safety nets for the poor, elderly, disabled, and veterans.