Friday, January 31, 2014

Fact Checking Obama's Statement on Women and Income Inequality

While there were dozens of half-truth's and outright lies that I could have written about following the President's State of the Union address, none are more outrageous than these two minutes:


First of all, the fact that women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns would be an accurate statement if we were all listening to his speech in 2004.  If the President took the time to read the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report on this exact topic, he would have read the following on the very first page:
 "In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men did; in 2011, women’s earnings were 82 percent of men’s."
And, that 82 percent is up from 81 percent in the previous year.

More importantly, the 82 percent number doesn't even come close to justifying Obama's statement that women should get equal pay for equal work.  That's because it is an average of all kinds of jobs that are held by the two sexes.  For example, more men work in higher paying heavy equipment and construction jobs than women; while woman dominate in lower paying positions such as cashiers, waitresses, and housekeepers.  Often, women choose these lower paying jobs because they give them more flexibility to care for their families.  In terms of college degrees, the highest paying jobs are in engineering.  Yet, less than 20% of those holding those degrees are women.

Now in terms of income inequality, the President seems to have conveniently forgotten that "he" signed  the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009.  Along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act in 1963, the Ledbetter law insures that woman have the right to sue whenever there is "true" income equality.  "True" meaning that the income disparity isn't as a result of differences in skill, responsibility, merit raises, or seniority.

Then there was the statement that a woman deserves to be able to have a baby without losing her job.  Well, again, Obama has forgotten that we already have a law that protects women from that, or even as a result of having to take care of a sick family member.  It's called the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.  The overview of that law is as follows:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” 
The concept of equal pay for equal work is the basis of socialism and unionization and not capitalism.  So, yes, a woman might be paid less than a male coworker because of a lack of things like education/experience, responsibility, seniority, or merit raises.  At the same time, two men, working the same job, might also be paid differently for the very same reasons.  That's why, to my knowledge, there hasn't been a slew of lawsuits being filed since the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed.

Once again, this President is distorting the facts in order to garner women's votes; and, he knows quite well that many woman (and, of course men, too) won't fact check all his lies.

References:

BLS Reports: Women in the Workplace: February 2013: http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-databook-2012.pdf

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_Ledbetter_Fair_Pay_Act_of_2009

Equal Pay Act of 1963: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Pay_Act_of_1963 

U.S. Department of Labor: Family and Medical Leave Act: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/

Engineering by the Numbers: http://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/college-profiles/2011-profile-engineering-statistics.pdf

Which College Degrees Earn the Highest Wages?: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/5-best-and-worst-paying-college-degrees/

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