Equality — or Freedom?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If you would understand why America has lost the dynamism she had in the 1950s and 1960s, consider the new Paycheck Fairness Act passed by the House 256 to 162.

The need for such a law, writes Valerie Jarrett, the ranking woman in Barack Obama’s White House, is that “working women are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.”

But why is that a concern of the U.S. government, and where is the empirical evidence that an inequality of pay between the sexes is proof of sexist hostility to women?

On average, Asians earn more than Hispanics; blacks less than whites. Mormons earn more than Muslims; Jews more than Jehovah’s Witnesses. And Polish Americans earn more than Puerto Ricans.

Does that prove America is a racist and religiously bigoted country?

The assumption of the Jarrett-backed law is that the sexes are equal in capacity, aptitude, drive and interest, and if there is a disparity in pay, only bigotry can explain it.

But are there not other, simpler answers for why women earn less?

Perhaps half of American women leave the job market during their lives, sometimes for decades, to raise children, which puts them behind men who never leave the workforce. Women gravitate to teaching, nursing, secretarial and service work, which pay less than jobs where men predominate: mining, manufacturing, construction and the military.

Over 95 percent of our 40,000 dead and wounded from Afghanistan and Iraq were men. Men in prison outnumber women 10 to one. Is that the result of sex discrimination?

Sports have become a national obsession, and among the most rewarded professions in fame and fortune. And TV viewers prefer to watch male athletes compete in baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, tennis and boxing.

Is unequal pay for men and women professional athletes a matter for the government?

Larry Summers lost his job as president of Harvard for suggesting that women have less aptitude for higher math and that may explain why they are underrepresented on Ivy League faculties in the sciences, economics and math. Would not that male aptitude help explain why men are dominant in investment banking and corporate finance, where salaries are among the highest?

Jarrett wants to empower the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to more closely monitor all businesses until women reach pay parity.

But if inequality of pay is a result of human nature and a free society, a greater equality of rewards can only be achieved through coercion, a government declaring its value, economic parity, to be supreme, and imposing its value and its preferred pay structure upon employers.

If this is where America is headed, why not go all the way and dictate that Asians and Hispanics, Muslims and Jews, women and men, blacks and whites, gay and straight must all be paid the exact same for the same work — and let the EEOC hire 100,000 more bureaucrats to see that it happens?

Would that be a great country or a socialist hell?

And before we empower the EEOC to monitor every business for sexism and racism, perhaps the commissioners will explain why African-Americans are 40 percent of all EEOC employees, while only 10 percent of the civilian labor force. Not a single white male sits on the commission.

Whence comes this egalitarian fanaticism?

Not from our Declaration of Independence, which spoke of all men being equal in their Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nor from the America Revolution, which was about liberty not equality, not this alien ideology of egalitarianism.

Equality is not even mentioned in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause did not even make an appearance until after the Civil War. And that was about equal justice under law, not the socioeconomic equality of all Americans.

No, this egalitarian ideology is traceable to the French Revolution, where the royalty and aristocracy went to the guillotine in the name of “egalite.”

Under the Paycheck Fairness Act, writes Jarrett, “employers will be required to prove in court that any wage differences were based on factors other than sex — such as education, training or experience — and were consistent with business necessity.”

In short, women alleging sexist practices by their bosses do not have to prove their guilt. The boss must prove his innocence. This is another way of saying businessman are to be presumed guilty when charged.

If that is not un-American, it surely once was.

Should this bill become law, the effects are predictable: more forms to be filled out by businesses, more bureaucrats for the EEOC, more charges of sex discrimination, more class-action suits, more fines, more lawyers getting rich via the litigious looting of the private sector.

America’s decline is directly related to the growth in government power and the concomitant loss of freedom.

Except in God-given and constitutional rights, we are not equal. We are all unequal. The utopian promise of equality is but the banner of every power-hungry politician in modern history. And the rise of the egalitarian society means the death of the free society.