Now that we’ve established that labor markets aren’t special, it’s time to extend this reasoning to the “equal pay for equal work” discussion.
If labor is a good that is exchanged just like any other, than we can easily make an analogy to the terms of exchange for labor and the terms of exchange for a good, say, tires. As we know, Chinese-made tires are much cheaper than American-made tires, a fact which greatly upsets Barack Obama. It upsets him so much that he had to impose draconian tariffs on Chinese tires, in a vain effort to “save American jobs.”
But wait a second… why should Chinese tires cost less than American tires? Isn’t that discrimination? Isn’t it wrong that Chinese tires aren’t paid as much for their services as American tires are? Shouldn’t we punish people who arbitrarily pay less for Chinese tires solely because they know that the Chinese tire will accept these lower wages?
The absurdity of this comparison reflects the absurdity of the “equal pay” mindset. Of course employers will pay as little for labor as they possibly can, just like how consumers will obviously pay as little for tires as they possibly can. This is how the market works.
Of course, some employers will choose to pay everyone equally, even if they could get away with not doing so, because such a decision profits them in other ways. It may create good publicity, or it may merely create a psychic profit in the sense that the employer will feel better about himself for not discriminating. This also happens with consumers. Some hyper-nationalists, presumably, are willing to pay more for American-made tires because it makes them feel good too (I assume Obama is in this category).
But that doesn’t change the fact that the actions are morally equivalent. Any time you pay less money for Chinese-made goods, you are discriminating against those goods solely based on their nationality. How despicable of you!