On purple penguins and blue moose.
An armchair-philosophy monologue ∞
The starting points ∞
People bring up the concept of a gender wage gap. For the sake of argument, let us not contest its truth.
The argument I will set out relies on these assumptions:
- Happiness is desirable.
- Freedom is important for happiness.
Choice is important for freedom.
I hope that the average person finds no faults with these basic things. (Yes, I know this will give proper philosophers an eye twitch.)
There are two sides to consider:
- The employer.
For the sake of this argument, let us set aside the employer. We need not consider the free market or the choices, biases or possible bigotry of employers. Let us instead imagine that employers are blind to employees, giving them equal footing.
Job qualities ∞
However, since we are concerned about wages, we must consider what employers offer and how wages fit.
Consider two sorts of jobs.
Compare these things:
I hope it is obvious how an awesome job would be lacking all of these things. A crappy job would have all of these things.
Jobs and wages ∞
Imagine any unnamed job and assign it some of these qualities. Give them a scale. Imagine that given choices, people would rather take the more awesome jobs.
Employers who have awesome jobs will have no problem finding employees.
Employers with crappy jobs will have a difficult time.
Imagining that the job market must an array of employers with an array of jobs, some jobs will be more awesome and some will be more crappy.
Some jobs on the crappier side of things must exist, at least in contrast to other jobs. To ground this monologue, let's be more specific about some crappy jobs.
- Truck driver
- Commission sales
Now let's note common qualities for these particular jobs.
- Labour. Obviously.
- Danger. One of the most lethal jobs.
- Time. Long periods of travel. Long days.
- Time. Travel.
- Time. Lots of long hours.
- Expertise. Lots of schooling.
- Stress. One of the highest stress jobs.
We know these jobs exist. Someone has to fill these roles because they're necessary or at least because the marketplace runs out of more awesome jobs.
Employers for crappy jobs like these must give incentives.
Their main incentive is pay. On average, crappy jobs pay more than more awesome jobs.
Jobs and employees ∞
Take a look at that list again, and wonder how many would want to work crappy jobs. Very few. This speaks to choice. Earlier, employers were assigned as blind, and bias can be argued. The law penalizes hiring bias, but instead of arguing that point let's take this in another direction.
Given two employees of the same ability at the same job, one earns more. It is the law that their salaries are the same. This law is much more enforceable than hiring biases. How could this, then, be so?
Happiness. Freedom. Choice.
One of these employees can choose to take on one of the crappy aspects within that same job. They can, for example, work overtime. The other employee chooses otherwise. Perhaps they don't want the stress. Perhaps they have other things they want to do with their time. Everyone has dreams they want to pursue, and employment choices impact them.
Purple penguins and blue moose ∞
Now let's talk about purple penguins and blue moose.
The moose make much more money than the penguins. There is a wage gap. Examining it, we learn that the moose are more willing to work crappier jobs, and the penguins are less willing. This explains different pay.
Why are we, then, concerned if their choices lead them to their own happiness?
Perhaps penguins are not encouraged and educated to get the qualifications for the higher paying jobs. Or perhaps they don't want them.
Perhaps the crappy yet high-paying jobs have a bias against penguins. Do we institute quotas? Do we require, by law, 50% penguins in these jobs? Do we begin firing moose?
From where are the penguins being drawn? The unemployed don't have enough members to draw from. Do we draw from the more awesome but lower-paying jobs? Are penguins being fired from those jobs? Do we then require, by law, 50% moose in those low-paying but awesome jobs? That's equal.
If parity is instituted anywhere, it must be instituted fairly. Quotas for any form of employment must be instituted everywhere. If there aren't enough in them, penguins must be put to work in the mines. For the animal wage gap to close, all jobs must have equal members.
For there to be no wage gap, there must be less choice, less freedom and less happiness.
The very existence of a wage gap reveals the application of choice, the existence of freedom and the happiness of employees.