Comparable Worth: Part Two

February 12, 1999

Recently the president promoted the idea of comparable worth when he announced a $14 million Equal Pay Initiative and called for passage of Senator Tom Daschleís Paycheck Fairness Act.

Equal pay for equal work is the law of the land. The president wants to mandate equal pay for different jobs, or to put it precisely, equal pay for jobs of comparable worth. Yesterday I talked about the failed history of this 1980s idea. Courts throughout the land soundly rejected the notion. Now the president wants the federal government to enforce the idea.

A recent column in the Wall Street Journal sets forth the particulars. "Under the presidentís plan, government bureaucrats will Ďobjectivelyí determine a jobís worth by considering the working conditions and the knowledge or skill required to perform a task. Neither experience nor risk, two factors that increase menís average wages relative to those of women, are included as relevant job-related criteria. Thus these criteria favor traditionally female occupations over male ones (secretaries over truck drivers), and white collar jobs requiring education over blue-collar work."

Senator Daschleís Paycheck Fairness Act would authorize the secretary of labor to establish guidelines for evaluating jobs. Such authority would allow the bureaucracy to decide if teachers should get paid more than truck drivers or whether secretaries should get paid more than oil drillers.

For the moment, these comparable worth guidelines are voluntary, but they could quickly become mandatory guidelines. President Clinton can issue an executive order forbidding the federal government from doing business with companies that do not adopt the guidelines.

Comparable worth is a bad idea in the 1980s and itís a bad idea today. It will do more harm than good.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.

© 1999 Probe Ministries International