We were thumbing through a Reader’s Digest while waiting for a doctor’s appointment the other day and came across an article that might let Missouri Republicans and Missouri Democrats reach an agreement on one of the big issues that separates them—paying women the same salary as men for doing comparable work.
Studies year after year show women earn twenty to thirty percent less than men for doing the same kind of thing. The Onion published a story about a year ago showing how one company has resolved the issue without being forced to do so by activist judges or over-reaching federal bureaucrats.
The story reported that Northstar Solutions of Seattle had begun paying men and women 78% of what they should be earning. The article describes Northstar as “a progressive company” and quotes CEO Jack Stargell saying, “We’ve always believed that employees who contribute the same level of hard work for the same duties should earn the same meager fraction of a reasonable wage, regardless of whether they are men or women.” The company reviews the salaries annually to make sure they don’t get out of whack. Stargell says, “Sex is simply not a determining factor in how we view our workers; they’re all disposable quantities that deserve an identical amount of disrespect and lack of recognition.”
Yes, yes, yes, we know The Onion is a satirical weekly paper, not a real newspaper. But it might be onto something that could draw together the great minds and the differing philosophies of government that divide the Missouri legislature now.
The legislature could pass equal pay for equal work, which the few surviving liberals want, and it could mandate that companies pay men the same wages that women earn for doing their same jobs, which could satisfy demands from the business interests that pour money into conservative coffers.**
Let’s face it, if businesses had government approval to pay men 22% less than they’re paying them now, the profitability of Missouri companies would jump and Missouri could truly become the magnet attracting new businesses that conservatives want it to be. And we all know, because the business interests have convinced conservatives that this is true, that the businesses would take those large windfalls and use them to create MORE 78% jobs. And that would be incredible news to jobless Missourians whose unemployment benefits have been significantly reduced by those same legislators.
AND things could get even better if the next proposed income tax cut is approved. Lower taxes on lower wages mean even less money for state services, programs, and infrastructure, advancing the drive to “right size” government. Observers who have been critical of Missouri’s politics would be hard-pressed to deny after all of this that Missouri is not a progressive state.
A lot of people make the mistake of dismissing The Onion as just a satirical publication. Maybe Missouri legislators should look to it as kind of a guidebook to state prosperity and political harmony.
There’s one more thing to note about this issue. Missouri already has a law that mandates equal pay for men and women performing equal work. But it applies to only a select few.
21.140. Each senator and representative shall receive from the treasury an annual salary of eighteen thousand seventy-eight dollars plus any salary adjustment provided pursuant to section 105.005.
The most recent figure we’ve seen puts the basic equal adjusted salary for each man and woman in the General Assembly at $35,915 a year plus a per diem, mileage, and full state health benefits. Men and women in this select group also can equally qualify for a pension after working six years.
The 78% plan of Northstar Solutions is not necessary in their case.
**The law probably should exclude CEOs from its provisions so that they can receive multi-million dollar bonuses for improving the company’s bottom line. Female CEOs also could get bonuses but only 78% as much as the male CEOs.