Milton Friedman on “Equal Pay for Equal Work” (What Romney Should Have Said)

This video has made the rounds in the libertarian circles for quite some time, but seems particularly relevant today.

Hearing clips from the Presidential debates merely makes me far more regretful that Ron Paul is not appearing in them.  Every so often, a question comes up where someone who actually believed in freedom and free markets could hit one out of the park, and strike a blow against big government statism and the conventional wisdom of modern politics.

The “Equal Pay for Equal Work” question was one of these moments.  You can almost hear Mitt Romney’s internal dialogue working here:  “Oh crap.  Quick, make it clear that you agree with her that women should be paid equal so you don’t seem like a sexist.  But wait, you can’t just say that you agree with Obama, because that would run the risk of exposing the fact that you actually agree with him about darn near everything and the difference between the two of you is minimal.  Just stammer for a while and drop some useless platitudes.  Oh crap, what did you just say?  Binders?  Really?  ABORT!  ABORT!”

If Romney actually had testicles, he could have attempted to deliver a free-market argument that the best way to truly achieve gender equality is NOT to pass new government laws, but to let the free market work its magic.  He could have channeled his inner Milton Friedman (who is not exactly some extreme libertarian himself) and challenged conventional wisdom.  Of course, he didn’t do that.  Either because he’s afraid to say something that might “rock the boat,” or (more likely), because he literally doesn’t believe Friedman’s argument.  In his heart, Romney is not a libertarian, but a statist.  He agrees that it is the purpose of government to solve these types of problems.

In any case, Friedman is actually correct here.  “Equal Pay for Equal Work” laws have the same effect on women that the minimum wage has on unskilled labor.  It artificially drives up prices, thereby resulting in greater unemployment.  All the sexist hiring managers out there, if forced by government decree to provide equal pay, will just not hire women.

But don’t worry, I’m sure if that were to happen, Obama (and Romney) would be quick to propose new affirmative action laws to force them to.  Every government “solution” simply creates another problem…. for which we get even more government “solutions.”

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About Dude Where's My Freedom?

My name's Matt and I love Freedom.
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3 Responses to Milton Friedman on “Equal Pay for Equal Work” (What Romney Should Have Said)

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