In Vincent Patsy’s recent column, he develops his entire argument upon the basic idea that people are paid less because they are less productive (Policing equal pay, 09/30/2009). The economic principles stated in his column — that, in the free market, people would be paid what they ultimately deserve — are undoubtedly true on a two-dimensional model. However, that view, like many simple economic models, completely ignores social context.

Patsy’s description of the “outbidding” process is unrealistic. Workers can’t actively compare wages and continuously shift between an infinite number of jobs as they please. Likewise, employers don’t constantly observe a pool of workers, vying for labor and thrilled to pay high wages. Employers will, of course, pay less if they can. That’s the entire basis of pay discrimination in the workplace.

Since the Lilly Ledbetter Act was cited in Patsy’s column, it can be assumed that the argument is mainly about the pay gap between men and women. Patsy’s column revolves around the assumption that the group that earns less is “less productive and (produces) fewer goods per day (than those who make more).” This point is the argument’s biggest and most insulting flaw. It is both arrogant and misleading to suggest that women earn less simply because they are inherently less productive.

It’s unfortunate that groups with histories of oppression make less money, but it’s not entirely surprising. It is, however, shocking that some people still imply that it’s due to an inborn racial or gender inferiority.

Kaitlin Henry
LSA sophomore

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