One of the interesting stories of the last week for me was Serena Williams rallying call for black women. Writing in fortune magazine she urged black women to speak out for equal pay.
It is certainly true that the labour force data, both here and in the states clearly show, that on average women and ethnic minorities are more likely to earn less than their white male counterparts. To use this alone to draw conclusions shows a total ignorance to statistics. Correlation does not imply causality. It certainly isn’t an argument for a bigger state with more market intervention, more regulation and for the coercion of companies through imposed quotas.
Having reached the ripe old age of 27 I’ve seen almost every type of person claim society is uniquely against them, and that there is a conspiracy to keep them down.
- Society doesn’t like me because I am black
- Society doesn’t like me because I am white
- Society doesn’t like me because I am a women
- Society doesn’t like me because I am a Man
- Society doesn’t like me because I am a Muslim
- Society doesn’t like me because I am a Christian
- Society doesn’t like me because I am gay
- Society doesn’t like me because I am working class
- Society doesn’t like me because I am upper class
- Society doesn’t like me because I am beautiful
- Society doesn’t like me because I am an immigrant
And so on and so forth…
This has been promoted by both ends of the political spectrum when it suits them. The left are perpetually guilty of this, playing on identity politics at almost every election. More recently this type of politics has also been creeping into the right, Donald Trump used the grievances of white working class men to propel himself to the white house.
The collectivisation of victimhood is for two main reason extremely dangerous. Firstly, believing the world is against you inevitably leads to a sense of helplessness and robs your ability to work hard and do the things that would ultimately advance your position. There is no doubt in my mind that if you followed the lives for instance of drug addicts, criminals and Islamic fundamentalists this inherent insecurity is prevalent.
The second is that it encourages overzealous governments to intervene unnecessarily in the markets, making the economy less competitive, less efficient and ultimately making the situation worse.
Of course I also would advise everyone to fight to maximise their income and I have no doubt that there are individuals and individual organisations which are bigoted. Ultimately however the free market is the best method for the determination of prices and ensuring fair pay. To steal a quote from the great man Milton Friedman himself
“The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.”
In practical terms what this means is if you do not hire the best talent your competitors will. Logically it follows then that when offered the employ of two workers of equal talent you would choose the one with the lower price, thus allowing you to price your good or service more competitively.
The aim of the government should be to protect the free market, the ultimate antidote to bigotry. We need to ensure these discussions remain part of civil society and that the state does not actively favour one group over another.