The Paycheck Fairness Act
Protecting individual rights is not Stalinist
"Three hundred million people get to vote everyday on what you should be paid or what the price of goods are," Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. "In the Soviet Union, the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea."Mr Paul does not appear to understand either the law which he has just voted against, or the class of economic transaction about which he is speaking. If a woman sues because she has been paid less than a man for doing the same work, and a judge rules in her favour, that is not an instance of "setting prices or wages by the government". The wage in question was set by the employer. What the judge has ruled is that the employer cannot offer different wages to different employees based on their sex. Why might such a hypothetical judge make such a ruling? Because, as noted above, offering different wages to different employees based on their sex is against the law, and has been so since 1963.
I. What Are the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination?But should it be illegal to offer different pay for the same work based on an employee's sex? Maybe not. Mr Paul's argument here implies he thinks it should be okay. So, let's try a thought experiment. How would you react to seeing a job advertisement that read: "Associate lawyer in patent firm, 3 years' experience required, salary $100k for man, $77k for woman"? Is that okay? If not, why not? How about this: "Associate lawyer in patent firm, 3 years' experience required, salary $100k for Christian, $70k for Jew"? How about "Salary $100k for white, $65k for negro"?
1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
2. the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;
The Paycheck Fairness Act, like the Lily Ledbetter Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, is not an instance of government price setting. It is an instance of government prohibition of certain forms of exploitative price discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to pay a woman less than a man for the same work just as it is illegal for a shop owner to charge a Jew more than a Christian for the same loaf of bread. There have been places in the world where at various times shop owners were allowed to charge Jews more based on their religion, to pay untouchables less based on their caste, and so forth. Those places were not freer than America. Indeed, one place where employers were free to discriminate against women and Jews, and did so avidly, was the Soviet Union. One of the key differences between the Soviet Union and America is that in America, we have an independent judiciary to which individuals can turn for enforcement of their legal rights when someone is screwing them over because they are of the wrong race, colour, religion, sex or national origin. In America, you have rights, and what makes those rights non-meaningless is that you can use the legal system to defend them. Mr Paul's ideological system has performed the ingenious trick of twisting his head around 180 degrees, such that he views the fact that Americans have legally enforceable rights not to be discriminated against as a form of communism.