The Paycheck Fairness Act: Protecting Individual Rights Is Not Stalinist
THIS week Republicans in the Senate once again blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would take further steps to guarantee access to the legal system for women who charge they’ve been paid less than men for doing the same job. (That’s illegal, in case anyone was thinking of trying it.) Justifying his vote against the act, Rand Paul compared it to Soviet communism. This is sort of a dog bites man story; on a given day, Rand Paul probably compares several dozen things to Soviet communism. But here, for what it’s worth, is why he thinks legislation to make it easier for women to sue when they’ve been paid less than men for doing the same job is just like Soviet communism:
“Three hundred million people get to vote everyday on what you should be paid or what the price of goods are,” Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. “In the Soviet Union, the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea.”
Mr Paul does not appear to understand either the law which he has just voted against, or the class of economic transaction about which he is speaking. If a woman sues because she has been paid less than a man for doing the same work, and a judge rules in her favour, that is not an instance of “setting prices or wages by the government”. The wage in question was set by the employer. What the judge has ruled is that the employer cannot offer different wages to different employees based on their sex. Why might such a hypothetical judge make such a ruling? Because, as noted above, offering different wages to different employees based on their sex is against the law, and has been so since 1963.