Though Vincent Patsy’s latest column voices an interesting concern about Obama’s efforts to level the playing field in terms of wage discrimination, he overlooks and skews some key points that are important to keep in mind (Policing fair pay, 09/30/2009). Stating that the market is the most useful tool in which to cure inequality is overly simplistic, unrealistic and even irresponsible.
In order to make noticeable strides toward actual equality at the workplace, to borrow Patsy’s advice, based upon talent and devotion alone, efforts must be made and action must be taken to ensure that the ground is fair at the beginning. By ignoring racial and gender-based policies, whether intentional or de facto (an unimportant qualifying tool, as discrimination is discrimination), we’re allowing these policies to perpetuate. The Obama administration is nobly trying to amend an already set system of flawed favoritism.
Sometimes, when deficient — if not blatantly unfair — practices like pay discrimination are not explicitly spelled out in policy, it is easy to believe that they have arisen as a result of natural causes and therefore will be fixed, lessened or accepted by waiting. But it would be ineffective to rely on the market to change itself or become organically evened because it has no interest in doing so.
More importantly, there are human ways to expedite the process and rectify the situation. Allowing the government to step in and assist in creating a just base is far from nepotism — in fact, standing back and watching a stoppable problem continue as Patsy suggests would be just that.