That would be President Barack Obama, who in a Tuesday White House media event signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay and ordered the Labor Department to require federal contractors to break down compensation data by race and gender.
“Pay secrecy fosters discrimination,” explained the man who has never run a business.
The impetus for all this, of course, was the annual canard euphemistically known as equal pay day – a date symbolizing the “fact” that women earn just 77 cents to every $1 earned by men.
The fact that numerous studies have proven that statistics to be misleading bunk – women tend to work fewer hours, in lower-paying, lower-danger jobs, and take more time off than men – did not prevent many reporters and commentators here and elsewhere from participating in the charade. But it was nevertheless remarkable to see Obama's own mouthpiece make a similar defense of the pay gap among White House employees.
Because we all know the Obama White House is the most enlightened place in America, something other than sexism must explain a recent study by the American Enterprise Institute showing that female White House staffers make 88 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterparts.
When asked for an explanation this week, Carney argued that a comparison based on aggregate wages – such as the “77 cents” statistic – inevitably fails to account for the fact that the lowest salaries “may or may not be – depending on the situation – filled by more women than men.” Men and women in equivalent White House jobs, he said, earn the same.
But that also appears to be the rule, not the exception, across the employment spectrum. It has been illegal since 1963, after all, for employers to consider gender when compensating their employees. The Labor Department itself says the wage gap between men and women shrinks to as little as 5 cents on the dollar when the same reasons Carney cited are factored in.
If any of that disparity is due to discrimination, the people affected should of course be compensated and the people responsible punished. But the fact that there does not seem to be a wholesale wave of successful gender-bias cases illustrates the problem is not all that common.
No doubt some of this week's demonstrators believe their own argument despite the evidence. Obama, however, clearly knows better. So what is his true motive?
This week's White House ceremony coincided with Democratic efforts to promote legislation making it easier for workers to sue companies for allegedly paying women less than men. Like the push for a higher minimum wage, the effort could be just the latest attempt to boost salaries legislatively.
It's more likely, however, that Democrats are simply trying to reinforce the laughable notion that Republicans are somehow engaged in a “war on women.”
If they are, so is Obama's White House.
In 2012, no less than Hillary Clinton offered this advice to women who are struggling to balance a family and career (just as men have always done): “I can't stand whining. I can't stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they're not happy with the choices they've made. You live in a time when there are endless choices . . . Do something!”
In other words, wouldn't women – who comprise more than half the population — be better served by focusing on the future instead of complaining about a past that largely no longer exists?My recent column about efforts to save and restore artist Homer Davisson's former studio at 331 W. Pontiac St., prompted a call from an 85-year-old Whitley County woman who would like to give some interesting artifacts in her possession a higher profile.
The woman, whose mother was a friend of Davisson's wife, Bess, acquired several of his paintings following the “dean of Indiana artist's” death in 1957, along with an easel, paint box and ceramic pitcher in which he stored his brushes.
Davisson's painting of his studio is available on loan to a reputable museum or other organization. She's willing to donate the equipment. If you're interested, contact me and I'll let her know.