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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
16 Apr 2014
Equality in Discipline

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2 Apr 2014
Sex and Race Equality

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Wage Discrimination


"President Obama Vows Zero Tolerance on Gender Wage Gap," read one headline. Another read, "Women Still Earned 77 Cents On Men's Dollar In 2012." It's presumed that big, greedy corporations are responsible for what is seen as wage injustice. Before discussing the "unjust" wage differences between men and women, let's acknowledge an even greater injustice — which no one seems to care about — age injustice.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers ages 16 to 24 earn only 54 cents on every dollar earned by workers 25 or older ( This wage gap is 43 percent greater than the male/female gap. Our president, progressives, do-gooders, academics and union leaders show little interest in big, greedy corporations ripping off the nation's youth. You might say, "Whoa, Williams! There's a reason younger people earn less than older people. They don't have the skills or experience." My response would be — if I shared the vision of the president, media elite and do-gooders: Just as there can be no justification for big, greedy corporations paying women less than they pay men, there's no justification for them to exploit the nation's youth.

The 77 percent median income statistic, used in discussions about male/female differences in earnings, tells us nothing about differences that might explain the differences in income, and it leads to stupid discussions. Let's use some common sense and look at some differences between men and women that may have a bearing on earnings.

Kay S. Hymowitz's article "Why the Gender Gap Won't Go Away. Ever," in City Journal (summer 2011), shows that female doctors earn only 64 percent of what male doctors earn. But it turns out that only 16 percent of surgeons are women, whereas 50 percent of pediatricians are women. Even though surgeons have put in many more years of education and training than pediatricians and earn higher pay, should Obama and Congress equalize their salaries? Alternatively, they might force female pediatricians to become surgeons.

There are inequalities everywhere.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian men and women have median earnings higher than white men and women. Female cafeteria attendants earn more than their male counterparts. Females who are younger than 30 and have never been married earn salaries 8 percent higher than males of the same description. Among women who graduated from college during 1992-93, by 2003 more than one-fifth were no longer in the workforce, and another 17 percent were working part time. That's to be compared with only 2 percent of men in either category. Hymowitz cites several studies showing significant career choice and lifestyle differences between men and women that result in differences in income.

According to 2010 BLS data, the following jobs contain 1 percent or less female workers: boilermakers, brick masonry, stonemasonry, septic tank servicing, sewer pipe cleaners and trash collectors. By contrast, women are 97 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers, 80 percent of social workers, 82 percent of librarians and 92 percent of dietitians and nutritionists and registered nurses.

For people having limited thinking skills, differences in earnings cannot be explained away. For them, Congress has permitted — and even fostered — a misallocation of people by race, sex and ethnicity. They'll argue that courts have consistently concluded that "gross" disparities are probative of a pattern and practice of discrimination. So what to do? Maybe President Obama and Congress should require women, who are overrepresented in preschool and kindergarten teaching, to become boilermakers, garbage collectors and brick masons and mandate that male boilermakers, trash collectors and brick masons become preschool and kindergarten teachers until both of their percentages are equal to their percentages in the population. You say, "Williams, to do that would be totalitarianism!" I say that if Americans accept that Congress can force us to buy health insurance, how much more totalitarian would it be for Congress to force people to take jobs they don't want?

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... When did "Do Gooder" get to be an insult??? What is the alternative??? People who do no good??? People who think about good like they think of nuclear radiation sources; from a safe distance???
Artistotle said, and I paraphrase, that: Governments are created for good; and he drew that conclusion from the obvious fact that good is the object of all human activity... Only the right who hide the absolutely terrible results of their false morality and economy can make an insult of doing good...What is new??? They make an insult of liberalism in a land created out of the liberal spirit...They make an insult of intelligence, and libel the educated with the term: Intellectual...
Nietzsche smeared the real human morality that often contributes to victims remaining as victims, non resistent while brutal masters come and go, and called it slave morality... If I agree that there is such a thing as a slave morality shared by the victims of society; there is a reason that this morality becomes nearly everywhere the dominant morality... Slave morality is the superior morality the sharing of which is what makes nations into nations... Those government formed for good, that do not exist only to expedite the exploitation of the weak by the strong is what makes a true and lasting nation possible... We do not often think of the vast damage done by a relative handful of people in this country who have zero use for good, for liberal thoughts, or intelligence with the consent of, and cooperation of a gullible group who just happen to be real slaves of their religious corporations...Nietzsche was wrong to blame Christianity and Christ for the slave mentality of much of Europe because the enslavement of the peasant class was effected over many generations, with each taking their solace out of the love and caring of their families... The theory of the individual has robbed us even of that medicine, and now it is every man and women and child for themselves... How dare do gooders stand in the way of injustice if their be profit in injustice??? How dare they care??? Does not caring deny the entire philosophy of the individual???... If we can care for others and for ourselves it is only because we have seen our dominant religion and economy for exactly what they are...Good is not an end... Good is not something people do... Good is what people are, and if they are, then good grows out of them as an inevitable conclusion...
Mr. Williams;... Here you reveal once again that your morality is no morality at all, that you cannot and will not grasp morality, and that you represent a deeply immoral economy...
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:03 AM
This writer like all the others. Try to confuse and make need for equal and fair pay irrelevant. Inequality in wage mean not paid same money for same work or paid low money for much work. Employers could bring much happiness if people fairly paid but they bring much misery.
Comment: #2
Posted by: steveM
Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:52 PM
Re: steveM;... There is a story about Socrates; that when asked when there would be justice in Athens replied: There will be Justice in Athens when those not injured by injustice are as indignant as those who are...
We always see injustice justified... The reason for this is simple: All Just actions are justified on their face, and everyone can see them for the justice they are...The injustice of injustice is that which must be concealed, rationalized, and explained away, painted and prettified for general consumption...No one bothers to explain why human beings some times rush into burning buildings to save a child's life; and no amount of reasoning can make such action imperative... I consider only the most simple of arguments for injustice... What is good for the goose is good for the gander... When we justify injustice for others we only justify it for ourselves, and this suits the rich and the rulers just fine...Indignance does not come easily and often to me... I have been used and seen so many people used right up to death that I find it hard to care... On the other hand, reason and knowledge are not far from my mind... What these people do to one, they will do for all; and we sometimes rejoice, but we only celebrate our own demise... People are concerned about the possibility of being droned by their government... They are worried that their government listens to every word they speak, and shines a light into every shadow of privacy... They do not understand that when they justify this behavior for strangers in distant lands they have made the moral argment for it happening here... These two seemingly disconnected behaviors of the government are not separate any more than the humanity on the recieving end of terror and tyranny are separate... It is simply that when they come for us, we will already have made the argment for our suppression and destruction because it sounded fine at a earlier time...
Only dolts buy these arguments for less than equal pay for equal work... I worked once with a big old German girl who was given to me for help; and the boss said: Put her to work cleaning our junk out of the stairwells, and I'll get rid of her in a couple of days... I told her that ironwork was no place for a woman, that it would break her down because the work was just too hard... I told her what the boss told me, and I told her if she wanted to do iron, to grab hold with both hands and hang on tight... Then the boss found out she was a certified welder, and a good one, and he kept her on... I was supporting my family; and she was supporting hers... Her ex was not much, but she told me: I have my pride too... Some times that pride of doing more and better than anyone will ever pay you for is all that pulls us through... I understood completely...There were times when I worked when she welded when my poor body could have used that time to rest and heal up... There were times I worked when I could, harder than she could because I was a man, and she was a woman... Was there some unjustice in that??? Certainly; but where do men think twice when they benefit from injustice??? I carried a lot of men in my prime too, and I was carried before and some times after... It is what people do for each other, what societies do... But think of all those men who look at moms carrying babies, and think to hitch a ride on those strong arms... Women are driven by love and necessity, and this is an advantage to those who love injustice, for there lies profit...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:16 PM
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