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Jewish World Review June 8, 2000/5 Sivan, 5760

Larry Elder

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"GENDER GAP" SOLUTION: FIRE THE MEN!

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- FIRE THE MEN!

The government repeatedly informs us that women remain oppressed in the workforce, earning "only" 76.5 cents on the dollar compared with men doing the "same" work. "Wage discrimination," says Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman, "remains an unfortunate reality for many women." President Bill Clinton urged Congress to do something to close the disparity. After all, he once said, women would not be satisfied if allowed to vote in only "three out of four elections."

This is actually good news for business owners and investors. For the government now outlines a course of management designed to cut costs while retaining efficiency and productivity -- fire all the men! Why not? After all, according to the labor secretary, women perform exactly the same work, with exactly the same results as a man yet at only 75 percent of the cost! Think of all the businesses lumbering along while paying men exorbitant salaries, far higher than the amount required to get the job done. What dunderheads!

This is also great news for the NBA. Its highest paid player, Shaquille O'Neal, this year pulls down $17.4 million. Meanwhile, the WNBA's best player, Cynthia Cooper, makes a paltry $75,798. Don't Shaq and Cynthia perform exactly the "same" work? Both play four quarters, 12 minutes each.

The dimensions of the court are the same for both players, and points per shot are equal. Apparently, according to the government, they perform the very same work, yet because of male chauvinism, the Lakers' management pays Shaq more jack.

Women of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but those smaller paychecks.

Of course, we have some rather untidy women vs. women or women vs. men equity problems to clear up.

For example, Anna Kournikova, the Russian tennis player, is ranked 15th.

American Lindsey Davenport, however, plays better, wins more, and enjoys a higher ranking. Yet the movie-star beautiful Kournikova graced the covers of magazines as disparate as "Forbes," "Sports Illustrated for Women," "Esquire," "Vogue," and "Cosmopolitan." "Sports Illustrated" called her the No. 1 "downloaded" athlete, with some 20,000 Web pages devoted specifically to her. Yet the less than drop-dead gorgeous Davenport gets comparatively few endorsements. A clear-cut case of intra-gender wage discrimination!

Kournikova

And then there's NBC's Katie Couric of the "Today" show. She reportedly earns $10 million annually. Her poor co-host Matt Lauer, however, scrapes by on a mere $2.5 mil. Again, both perform exactly the "same" work. The "Today" show runs two hours, and the co-hosts split airtime fairly evenly. They take up the same space on the couch, yet Couric earns four times the amount earned by Lauer. A clear-cut case of reverse-gender wage discrimination!

ABC's Barbara Walters earns an annual salary of $10 million. She produces and appears on the daily talk show "The View," alongside several other women, none of whom come close to earning what Walters pulls down. "View" co-hosts, grab an attorney and file a class action lawsuit!

Bottom line, the government's assertion is nonsense. When one compares apples to apples -- women with the same experience, number of years on the job with no time out for having and raising children -- women earn the same as men. Researcher Diana Furchtgott-Roth with the American Enterprise Institute says, "No serious academic study claims that equally qualified women earn 73 cents to a man's dollar." She cites a University of Michigan study, showing that an apple-to-apple comparison finds that women's earnings are 94 percent that of men's. Other studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and by the National Science Foundation reached similar conclusions.

The Independent Women's Forum says, "The average wages of women are lower than those of men because the average woman has less work experience and is more likely to choose a lower-paying job that provides flexibility to combine work and family responsibilities." Is this a bad thing? Or should we celebrate the fact that some women voluntarily choose less demanding schedules or part-time work in order to stay home and spend more time rearing their children?

If women truly want broader and better opportunities, try following the advice given by economist Wendy Gramm, who emphasizes an activist economy rather than an activist government: "Indeed, many government programs work against women by weakening the economy or creating employment barriers that are harmful. Requiring certain benefits like maternity leave raises the cost of employing women and may cause marginal companies to close their doors and hire no one at all. The higher costs may make some companies reluctant to hire women."

In the meantime, you bosses out there, conquer your chauvinism in pursuit of the bottom line. Take a look at your work force. If it contains too much testosterone, cut those costs, yet retain productivity.

Fire those men!


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