Out: Equal pay. In: ERA?

Out: Equal pay. In: ERA?

The USA women’s soccer team is all the rage right now, and not just for their back to back World Cup victories. It seems like everyone, particularly politicians and liberals in the media, is trying to hitch their wagons to these rising stars. Heck, we’ve even had one presidential candidate promise to make one of the co-captains his Secretary of State.

From the moment the ladies secured their victory, however, the biggest rallying cry has been equal pay for women, largely from people who don’t seem to quite grasp how the league gains and distributes revenue. But even being the poster children for closing the gender pay gap isn’t enough for some. The athletes are now being painted as the new faces of a push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). This from the Boston Globe.

“It’s so dramatic. It has such high visibility,” said Jessica Neuwirth, co-president of the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality, which works to raise awareness on the limits of existing law. “At the end of the day, under the law, they’re still second-class citizens. They don’t have equal rights under the Constitution.”

The push to add an equal rights amendment to the Constitution, a cultural touchstone of a past generation, had already been resuscitated for the Trump era, amid the accumulating accounts of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment…

In their suit, the women soccer players argue they are making less than the male players for the same job even when they play more games, generate more revenue, garner higher TV audiences, and win more championships.

How we got from the World Cup to the ERA is something of a mystery, but here we are. I’m not up to date on everything that would be required legislatively to get that ball rolling again or how many states would need to vote on it. (Some of them rescinded their votes after initially approving the amendment.) Either way, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.

I’ve never been particularly opposed to the ERA (and I’m old enough to remember the last time we went through this) but I’ve also never fully understood what passing it would accomplish at this point beyond the pure symbolism of it. The proposed amendment as it currently stands is broken down into three sections. Two of them are typical housekeeping about when it takes effect and how Congress will enforce it. The actual meat of the proposal is quite short. Here’s the entire text:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

What is there in that sentence that isn’t already fully covered by section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment?

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Even for all of those rights that all citizens of either gender already have, what employers in the private sector pay their workers isn’t a fertile field for the government to go messing around with. As things stand, every time the minimum wage is raised beyond what the market will currently bear, artificial pressures are placed on the labor market and it’s the workers who generally end up paying the price for it. Now we’re talking about an even more intrusive system where Uncle Sam looks over the payroll sheets and determines whether or not the employer is being “fair” enough, even if one worker is objectively outperforming the other?

Gee. I don’t see how that could possibly end in a massive, flaming disaster for the economy, do you?

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