Women are making 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. For women of color it’s even worse. African American women earn just 63 cents for every dollar a white male earns, while the figure for Hispanic women is just 54 cents. That’s nothing but sexism and discrimination.
But there’s a convincing argument that the gender pay gap is a myth. Attempting to address a phantom problem with new regulations would have negative side effects, not all of which can be predicted. The attention would be better spent on the latter half of Bernie’s message, the plight of minority workers, but even then he’s a little off the mark.
Race is just one marker in a person’s economic equation. It’s easier to identify and track ethnicity than follow individual family trees. We know more about black Americans than we do the descendants of indentured Irish farmers fleeing famine or Polish Jews or other now-generically-“white” groups. When we do drill down to the family level, we see similar effects from inter-generational poverty and racist policy. If your great-grandparents were poor, you’re likely poor.
To beat this, America needs a small business revival, with stimulus and guidance given to the neighborhoods with the most to gain regardless of racial mix. Trusting big companies to maintain stable jobs has proven disastrous to many. Direct government employment can only help while projects are funded.
Putting folks’ futures back into their own hands is a better guarantee of long term success. There is still plenty of opportunity for innovation, and plenty of willing workers; we just need to figure out how to connect the two without spending ourselves into a debt spiral.
By addressing jobs, we address poverty, which in turn affects violent crime, drug use, property crime, domestic violence, education levels, birth rates… issues that cross artificial racial and gender lines.
We need to work together on this. Systemic racism and individual bigots need to be fought, but the bigger influence today is economic. Pointing fingers amongst ourselves based on skin color, gender, income or birthplace is a toxic waste of time.
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