When it comes to a manufactured issue such as unequal pay between men and women, a disparity that exists only in the aggregate and evaporates among individuals, you can expect to hear a fair number of suspect claims.
But an assertion made by National Organization for Women president Terry O'Neill while a guest on Ed Schultz's radio show last week, talking about the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, went beyond suspicious toward something more closely resembling the inane. (Audio) --
SCHULTZ: Lamar Alexander, senator from Tennessee, the conservative position is, is that he thinks that this is going to result in more lawsuits, he thinks that this, basically, the free market is going to take care of all of this, that it would end up getting government involvement into the business world. What's your response to that? Especially the fact the lawsuit end of it, what about that? I mean, it would seem to me that it would reduce lawsuits.
O'NEILL: Well, I think over time it should reduce lawsuits but let's be clear, we do not have a free market today and the labor market is not free and a major reason why it's not free is the employers have an unfair advantage. They have transparency. They know everything they need to know about their employees, all they have to do is go on Facebook. They've got, I mean, you've got, you've got serious non-transparency issues (chuckles as lunacy of what she just said sinks in) that are only going to get worse in the age of technological information, right? But what do employees really know about their employers? Very little. It is a black box. We don't know, employees generally don't know the reasoning that goes behind the wage rates that are set by the employer. And if you don't have equal knowledge on two sides of a transaction, you don't have a free market. So anybody talking about a free market, they need to be honest and say a free market actually is one in which the employees have as much knowledge as the employer, right? So, so what you need to create a free market are policies, rules, the employer has to be transparent, just like the employee is transparent. Once you get those rules in place, and enforced, then you start seeing the free market operate correctly. And frankly, I think in the short run there will be more lawsuits and there should be.
A toss-up as to what's more amusing here: O'Neill's alleged Ayn Randian reverence for the "free market" (if only it had more rules!) or her claim that employers "know everything they need to know about their employees, all they have to do is go on Facebook."
With that in mind, I went to Facebook and looked up O'Neill's name, seeing how I may someday need to hire a women's advocate (hey, it could happen). Go figure, O'Neill is nowhere to be found. And based on what O'Neill told Schultz, I should have been able to learn "everything" I needed to know about her there.
But while everything you want to know about anyone in the job market is readily available on social media, O'Neill purports (a claim frequently heard from people who never use it), information about employers is sealed tightly in a "black box." To which I suggest substituting "Google" for "Facebook" in O'Neill's equation -- there has never been a better time to acquire knowledge about any company, and the bigger the better, in a matter of seconds through the Internet. What we used to quaintly describe as the information highway remains a two-way thoroughfare.
While O'Neill has taken to mouthing "free market" with the repetition of a mantra, it is the last thing liberals like her actually want. What she fervently prefers is a rigged game, one favoring women, with government acting as sympathetic ref. If in the "short run" more lawsuits result (ka-ching!), all the better.
O'Neill claims employees must have -- through government mandate -- "as much knowledge" as employers. But what she's really talking about is power, empowering workers to the point that the disparity between them and the people who employ them vanishes. Something along these lines was attempted after a revolution in Russia back in 1917, with disastrous results there and around the world in the century that followed.
If liberals like O'Neill were genuinely interested in empowering workers, they would stop burdening employers with endless diktats that succeed only in making the workplace more of a minefield.