In two ways, the failure of HB 956 by state Rep. Julie Stokes proved helpful: it sidelined a bill whose supporters left open a door cracked for it to do what its sponsor did not want, and it exposed those who wanted that which its sponsor did not for the hypocrites that they are.
The bill would have read into state law a portion of the federal Equal Pay Act. It attempted to prevent pay discrimination on the basis of sex for equal work performed in a job, but a flaw in its drafting that neglected a passage of the federal law instead opened it up, at least in some cases, to make illegal discrimination between individuals with similar work performed. That concept, comparable worth, was behind other bills introduced this session, which were built upon a fiction.
Those other bills were argued necessary because, when taking the average earnings of Louisiana females and comparing them to males in all jobs, taking nothing else into consideration, women earned about two-thirds of what men did. But this exercise is entirely laughably apples to oranges, because it does not take into account a number of other extenuating factors, such as lifestyle preferences, occupational choices, and educational attainment. In fact, when looking at national data, when accounting for differentials caused by these factors, the difference, when comparing men to women actually in jobs requiring the same work and in the same circumstances, goes to statistical insignificance. The presumed pay gap is a myth.
But you’ll never hear that admitted by the advocates of comparable worth, who need to adhere to the fantasy of a significant difference, because then they argue that (1) existing law which defines discrimination occurs only when equal work under equal circumstances has a differential is inadequate to the task because (2) there’s a differential, so therefore the oxymoronic idea of “unintentional discrimination” is occurring because of systemic errors the present paradigm cannot address, therefore meaning (3) a switch to a new paradigm of “comparable worth” is required to rectify the problem. Never mind that these advocates cannot prove any linkage between the statistic and actions that cause it; to them, a result invites imagining and assumption of the intent’s presence, even if they can find no evidence of the actual intent that supposedly causes the result.
So because HB 956 did not adhere to the comparable worth philosophy, despite its flawed language that could have provided an argument that would have satisfactorily inculcated this into that worldview, these supporters of these other bills opposed HB 956 in front of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. Granted, as HB 956 only incorporated federal law into state law it thus didn’t really expand or ensure new protections against this discrimination, it represented only a symbolic achievement, the fact is special interests who had spoken in favor of the other bills and some senators on the committee – state Sens. Jody Amedee, Bob Kostelka, Edwin Murray, and Greg Tarver – who had voted for the other bills suddenly did an about-face and voted against HB 956.
Which tells us something about the hypocrisy of these senators and of those special interests who argued against it. Their priority first and foremost is for interests that believe the market discriminates against women and for the big government allegedly necessary to prevent that, at the expense of women themselves. They went against a bill that would have written into Louisiana law prohibitions against equal pay for equal work because they cared more about an agenda that would have empowered special interests and government than about women’s empowerment. They defend themselves with mealy mouths about how HB 956 doesn’t go far enough and therefore distracts, but that’s just a ruse to fool the unaware into forgetting that their preferred offerings are solutions that will bring them and their ideological allies more power, and less for employers, on the basis of a problem that doesn’t even exist. Squawking about “equality” for women merely serves as a ruse to hide this larger motive, they have demonstrated.
Today in the Senate a comparable worth bill is scheduled to be heard –SB 334 by state Sen. Karen Peterson. A Senate majority would send an appropriate message by voting down the discredited radical notion behind it aided and abetted by the hypocrisy that has gotten it as far as it has come to date.