Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Iceland’s Equal Pay Regime Will Hurt, Not Help, Women. We Don’t Need It

Iceland this week took its equal pay law to a new level, as a law took effect requiring employers to prove they don’t discriminate against women in monetary compensation.

Contrary to ecstatic exclamations from the likes of Hollywood actress Patricia Arquette, tennis great Billie Jean King, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., both Iceland and the United States—like most developed countries—already require equal pay for equal work. These equal pay laws are enforced by employee complaints and litigation.

And Sanders, who ran for president in 2016, enthused on Facebook: “We must follow the example of our brothers and sisters in Iceland and demand equal pay for equal work now.”

Wrong. Again, U.S. law already requires equal pay for equal work regardless of sex, ethnicity, or nationality.

What Iceland actually did is ring in 2018 with mandatory, government-enforced certification that employers pay men and women equally. Noncompliance results in fines.

“It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, one of the leaders of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera.

But is it?

Icelandic employers with 25 or more workers are required to obtain a “pay equality certification” from a government-approved certifier every three years.

The small Nordic nation adopted the law in June 2017 in an effort to root out even the small, unexplained pay gap that remains after reasonable factors are taken into account to explain the so-called raw wage gap.

That’s a knee-jerk policy response to a rather complicated problem, with far-reaching implications for Iceland’s economy.

The raw wage gap is simply the median difference in pay for full-time, year-round workers by gender. For U.S. workers, this wage gap meant women made 80.5 cents to every dollar men made in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

After accounting for factors such as occupation, hours worked, education, tenure, and so on, the wage gap shrinks substantially. What remains is the “unexplained” wage gap.

In the U.S. context, about 5 to 7 percent of the wage gap is unexplained. In Iceland, the gap was similar, at 5.7 percent.

The fact of an unexplained gap does not necessarily imply discrimination. It simply means that researchers have not been able to quantify certain explanatory factors.

We know from polling that women exhibit a preference for compensation other than cash wages in the form of more flexibility or more time off.

But the value of benefits such as flexible and alternative work schedules and on-site child care are difficult—if not nearly impossible—to measure because their value varies significantly among individuals. A childless male, for example, would value on-site child care at zero while a female with young children would value it highly.

Other known data limitations include quantifying the importance of experience and job tenure by occupation and industry.

The right response to such limitations is not to make broad-stroke, unwarranted judgment calls. Instead, governments should allow workers to choose the jobs—including the pay and total compensation packages—they desire without imposing unwarranted conditions that could backfire against the very same people they intend to help.

After all, most developed nations already have strong laws in place to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Unfortunately, the European Social Policy Network, a group that  advises the European Commission on social issues, hasn’t considered that the remaining gender pay gap actually may be the result of women’s choices.

Author Stefán Ólafsson writes: “This 5.7% unexplained pay gap [in Iceland] is thus the gender difference in pay that can be attributed to discrimination against women.”

That’s shoddy social science at best and intentionally misleading analysis at worst.

The result is a law based on a faulty premise that imposes rigid pay structures across the Icelandic economy.

According to the “Equal Pay Standard,” the basis of certification by Iceland’s government, companies are required to go through a pay assessment process that classifies jobs according to value created for the company and determines associated pay based on the position held in the company.

More flexible pay structures assess the value an individual brings to an organization and base pay on experience, tenure, education, and other factors related to performance.

The goal of Iceland’s Equal Pay Standard appears to be to pay all individuals performing similar roles the same, regardless of any distinguishing features or what that these individuals are able to negotiate for themselves. This will result in rigid pay structures, similar to the General Schedule classification and pay system used by the U.S. federal government.

By distorting the labor market, rigid pay structures will result in inflexible job requirements and work schedules that disproportionately hurt those who value workplace flexibility the most: women.

Rigid pay structures also will prevent businesses from attracting and retaining qualified employees. They will reduce economic growth as well as job and wage prospects for many workers.

The Trump administration recently reversed an Obama administration rule requiring employers to report detailed salary information by gender and other factors. The Labor Department intended to use this information to police employers who raised red flags in the agency’s data files for an unequal distribution in employment and pay scales.

The Obama administration rule would have reduced the availability of flexible work arrangements, which are especially important to working parents. It also would have led to less performance-based pay, such as bonuses, to encourage and reward excellence.

But what Iceland actually has done is go far beyond reporting requirements. Its government instead will approve or disapprove of employers’ payroll decisions, starting this year.

The resulting rigid pay structures for Icelanders likely will lead to more temporary and independent contractor-type work arrangements, since the law applies only to companies with 25 or more full-time, year-round workers.

In America, reasonable men and women should agree this is a bad idea to import here.


FEMA Corrects Course on Church Aid

The agency changes its policy and will now allow houses of worship to apply for disaster relief funds.

On Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reversed course on churches and disaster money. It had previously excluded churches from applying for disaster relief aid but will now allow them to do so, retroactive to August 23, 2017. This decision comes after lawsuits were brought by three Texas churches against the agency as well as pressure from President Donald Trump, who had tweeted that churches should receive FEMA aid for helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Prior to the policy change, FEMA had allowed “community centers” and other nonprofits to apply for and receive federal emergency funds, but the agency had specifically excluded houses of worship due to the fact that they were used for “religious activities, such as worship, proselytizing or religious instruction.” Lawyers for the Texas churches argued that such a policy was discriminatory and unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.

Pastor Charles Stoker of the Hi-Way Tabernacle, one of the churches suing FEMA, said that his church sheltered 80 to 90 evacuees, many of whom were not members of the church or even religious. Stoker said, “We’re not trying to cram religion down someone’s throat, we’re trying to help them recover, to show them love.” Stoker’s church was severely damaged by flooding and his lawyer noted that many churches serve as “hubs for the community” and that FEMA’s “denying help to them, to these churches, denies help to the community.”

FEMA’s new policy states that “private nonprofit houses of worship are now eligible for disaster assistance as community centers, without regard to their secular or religious nature.” This is indeed welcome news and the correct decision even from a purely practical point of view. As we noted last September, churches and faith-based groups spearheaded the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and outperformed FEMA. Quite simply, it behooves the agency to support local churches who are often better prepared to deal with natural disasters because they know and are already heavily invested in their communities.


Violent Criminal Illegals Now a ‘Protected Class’ in California

Illegal aliens – including violent criminals – have become a protected class in California, Fox News host Tucker Carlson declared Tuesday, reacting to the state’s new sanctuary policy:

“It doesn’t matter even if they have a history of crime, even violent crime. In California, illegal aliens are now a protected class. And even more significant, the state itself is now in direct opposition to this country’s most basic laws.”

Carlson listed several ways California’s laws give special treatment to illegal aliens:

“All police statewide in California are banned from asking about a suspect’s immigration status or cooperating with federal immigration officials. Landlords are banned from reporting the legal status of their tenants.  Colleges can’t monitor the immigration status of the kids they enroll.

“These new measures augment the state’s many existing laws - all designed to enable illegal immigration.

“Illegals in California already are entitled to receive a driver’s licenses, in-state college tuition, free healthcare for their children and more. They don’t need to have a job; they don’t have to know English.”

By its “open defiance of the federal government,” California has taken one more step toward secession, Carlson said, comparing it to the time Alabama’s governor rejected federal desegregation laws:

"This country’s largest state has taken another dramatic step towards disunion. An open defiance of the federal government. As of yesterday, California is now a sanctuary state. It’s the nation’s first....

“Fifty-five years ago this month, Governor George Wallace took his oath of office and pledged resistance to federal authority - effectively declaring Alabama its own country. You know the history.

“Well, Governor Jerry Brown of California has done something similar this week.”


Ingraham: Self-Righteous Hollywood Hypocrites Hyper-Sexualizing Women, Kids

Laura Ingraham called out Hollywood's hypocrites, including women, for claiming to be the nation's "moral conscience" - while making millions by hyper-sexualizing women.

Tuesday, on her Fox News Channel program, Ingraham took aim at Hollywood's seedy double-standard:

"Many of these women are the same women who made millions of dollars flaunting their bodies for anyone to watch.

"In the awards shows, there are talented people there, some beautiful folks, women and men. But, at times, the dresses to be defying the laws of physics – the double-sided tape. How do they keep that up?

"For a while, it was almost as if Hollywood was creating a new category: ‘And, accepting for the Deepest Neckline is…'” ...

“You can wear whatever you want, but then don’t be shocked when people - including men - stare. It’s going to happen.

"Now, these same people - producer, writers, directors, agents and actors who have objectified women, and in some cases themselves, they’re suddenly the moral conscience of the entire country? Not just the entertainment industry; they’re going to safeguard the entire country?"

If they were sincere about cleaning up their industry, they'd "stop hyper-sexualizing women and young people," she said:

"So, the Hollywood crowd, they’re great at stomping their feet and fund-raising for liberal causes. But, if they really cared about their industry, they’d stop hyper-sexualizing women and young people.

"And, until they do, their audience will continue to flee and seek safe harbor elsewhere. In other words, Hollywood, time’s up."

Ingraham also chided Hollywood women for attacking President Donald Trump because, she says, he's "going to do more to help women than anyone else" in 2018:

"You know who’s going to do more to help women than anyone else this year, by the way? They won’t admit it, but I’ll tell you who:  Donald Trump.

"An improving economy is good for all Americans – including women. Women entrepreneurs. Women are half the work force, if not more, in certain parts of the country. They need a growing economy. Wages going up, optimism and confidence."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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