Equal Pay and Soccer

February 2, 2000

The fight to give women equal pay just got another ally recently. President Clinton has been promoting the idea of comparable worth and wants to spend $27 million of your money to achieve it. Michelle Akers, a celebrity soccer player from the World Cup-winning women's team, joined the president in his fight.

She is one of twenty players from the women's national soccer team who declined to play in a tournament last month in Australia because of a contract dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The women want their pay raised to match the amounts paid to men's team members.

Now their beef may be legitimate, and I personally wish the women's soccer team all the success and income they can achieve. But their "plight"--if you want to call it that--has nothing to do with providing women with equal pay.

The president argues that women earn only 75 cents to a man's dollar. But his slogan is based on a crude comparison of wages. Take all of women's wages in America and divide those by all the men's salaries and you get the president's number. But there are some obvious reasons for that apparent disparity. Women often have less work experience and are more likely to choose a job that gives them flexibility to combine work and family. They may also wish to have greater flexibility to leave the work force to bear and raise children. When adjustments are made for age, experience, education, occupation, etc. the wage disparity vanishes.

And do we want to spend millions of dollars to have a Washington bureaucracy set appropriate pay levels? I don't think so. Can you imagine the disputes and the inequities?

The complaint of women soccer players or even women basketball players should be resolved in the marketplace. And that's where the issue of comparable worth should be resolved as well.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.