Social Question Number 2

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  • Social Question Number 2
  • Premier Icon Stoner
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    Article in today’s Grauniad about equal pay across the sexes. They use a female classroom assistant comparison with a male gravedigger.

    In the legal claims they say there are two main types of cases. The easy one is differences in pay for the same role and seniority for a man and a woman. The more complex one is using a comparative analysis like above where there is a measure of worth of value to society and whether pay reflects that value or worth.

    The argument goes that since women tend towards, say, classroom assistant roles and men towards gravedigging then you cant leave the market to solve the pay discrepancy.

    I say you can, and more women should be encouraged to be gravediggers rather than classroom assistants reducing supply of classroom assistants and so increasing their pay to attract more.

    So value based pay, and how do you determine social value? or leave the markets to it but ensure no discrepancy in pay across the sexes for the SAME role?

    Yes, this is more of a social question. As you say equal pay for expertise, experience and effort in the same role. Otherwise your getting into real class wars, saying which job is, effectively, better than another, and thus, who has more of a value to society.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    of course the corollory is the discrepancy between, say a banker’s pay and a nurse (there you go noteeth 🙂 ) , with all the recent ire on banker pay and perception of worth you’d think there might be a greater readiness to use the value argument? No? 🙂

    surfer
    Member

    The problem with allowing the market to determine pay is that it produces losers that most of us would be unhappy from an ethical perspective accepting.

    On the other hand intervention requires political decision making and subjectivity.

    My wife reckons that she is discriminated against on the basis of gender, when she compares what she – a nurse, which she argues is traditionally a female dominated job – gets paid to what I – a policeman, arguably a traditionally male dominated job – gets paid. I’m not sure her argument is really that valid these days when plenty of men are nurses and plenty of women are in the police?

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    indeed. You should encourage her to “fight the system” and get a non-female-tradion job…like….racing car driver 🙂

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    My wife reckons that she is discriminated against on the basis of gender, when she compares what she – a nurse, which she argues is traditionally a female dominated job – gets paid to what I – a policeman, arguably a traditionally male dominated job – gets paid. I’m not sure her argument is really that valid these days when plenty of men are nurses and plenty of women are in the police?

    If there are no gender-based barriers to entry, then it’s not gender discrimination, surely?

    However, in jobs which are traditionally female-dominated, men entering those professions seem to progress through the career structure faster/higher than women. It would be interesting to see figures showing percentage of nurses who are men and percentage of senior nurses who are men.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    gender/ethnic progression discrepancy is a difficult one. It can lead organisations to fastrack a perceived minority in order to rectify historic imbalances. Say female District court judges or ethnic police chiefs. That has surely got to be counter productive. As long as an organisation can demonstrate that over a perdiod that there is an equal rate of progression, not absolute numbers, then that should be sufficient and allow time to do the work of encouraging minorities into a field.

    surfer
    Member

    However, in jobs which are traditionally female-dominated, men entering those professions seem to progress through the career structure faster/higher than women. It would be interesting to see figures showing percentage of nurses who are men and percentage of senior nurses who are men

    Do they climb the ranks quicker because they are better? I suspect not, much male career success is based around the traditional model of women at home supporting the man by raising the family.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    Pay based on worth to society is an interesting idea, but who decides?

    A “fat-cat” banker would argue that she creates wealth and provide the basis on which our economy is built. A primary school teacher could argue that the banker wouldn’t know how to add up if it weren’t for him. A midwife could argue that the teacher might not have survived birth were it now for his intervention, while the hospital cleaner might argue that the midswife could not do his job safely if he did not keep the hospital clean.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    Do they climb the ranks quicker because they are better? I suspect not, much male career success is based around the traditional model of women at home supporting the man by raising the family.

    But the good news is that the CREDIT CRUNCH is allowing men to discover more traditionally-female roles.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    ’Give up work to help your husband’

    “Men whose wives aren’t employed earn on average 31% more than single men, but for men whose wives have full-time jobs, that number drops to 3.4%.”

    Racing car driver…banger racing perhaps. Slow banger racing.

    If there are no gender-based barriers to entry, then it’s not gender discrimination, surely?

    Well that’s what I say to her.

    IanMunro
    Member

    Do they climb the ranks quicker because they are better?
    They might put themselves foreward for promotion more often, be more ruthless in applying, or have greater self-belief though. I’ve no idea how equality in the workplace is meant to address this, or if it should even attempt to.

    willard
    Member

    One solution that strikes me as workable to this whole thing would be to have a single, national (or worldwide) system of ranks or ratings so that people could compare salaries of various roles at a glance.

    With a known grade for a given role, and each grade having a defined salary and performance criteria, it _should_ be next to impossible to underpay/overpay people at the same grade based on anything other than performance.

    That does sound a bit totalitarian though. Or like Futurama.

    If markets were so great then you wouldn’t need to “ensure no discrepancy” of pay across the sexes.

    So clearly, somewhere within you (Stoner) you already know and accept that markets are in fact rubbish.

    The only people who think that markets are great are the people who are doing very nicely thank you, or those who think that given the will there is a way (i.e. following the American dream).

    The main problem with markets is that actually it is impossible to put a monetary value on almost anything important – love, life, not being bored, having access to a good view, general well being etc, but that even in the face of this being spelled out to them, it is a bit complicated for most people who can only think in terms of HD TVs owned, years left on mortgage, holidays taken compared to neighbours, etc. though probably these things come into a bit more perspective as death approaches.

    My approach (partially successful) is to try really hard to ignore what everyone else is doing and what they’ve got, be as self-sufficient/self-reliant as possible, try to keep my work as interesting as possible to make the money that I unfortunately still really need to live in a western society, and try to take pride in the fact that my wife is actually doing a great job and making a contribution to society working as a teacher, even if she doesn’t make the same money as many other people in less stressful, less responsible jobs. In other words, accept that life isn’t fair, never will be fair and try to make the best of what I’ve got (which in the global scheme of things is actually a lot) and try not to have too much to do with people who think that markets are a good thing.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    My wife reckons that she is discriminated against on the basis of gender, when she compares what she – a nurse, which she argues is traditionally a female dominated job – gets paid to what I – a policeman, arguably a traditionally male dominated job – gets paid. I’m not sure her argument is really that valid these days when plenty of men are nurses and plenty of women are in the police?

    But your wife is paid the same as a male nurse on equal grade, her arguing about different jobs is discriminating against the sex is not valid.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    couldnt disagree more RPRT.

    is that actually it is impossible to put a monetary value on almost anything important – love, life, not being bored, having access to a good view, general well being etc,

    efficient markets actually price those very well indeed. Its a very well developed field of economics and has been around since the days of Adam Smith
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_economics

    Markets arent rubbish. They are inevitable in a world of limited resources. However they are not always efficient or rational. Sometimes (and really only in a small number special cases such as healthcare/geriatric care, taxation, drugs etc do they need manipulation). You confuse me with a Free-marketeer. That’s a different thing.

    discrepancy of pay across the sexes is an inertial problem – the result of an ineeficient market. Anti discrimintion cases are helping to redress it and increased data disclosure (data disclosure is a market BTW) will keep balances in check once time has been allowed to remove the initial imbalances.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    My wife was discussing pay with her boss, who used to be high up in ICI. It highlighted that some people have no idea about pay in the ‘real world’.

    He thought they needed to pay the new post they were creating at least £25k. My wife though £18k was much more realistic, and he was shocked when she pointed out that she was on about £10k (pro-rata) and that £25k was 25% more than a newly qualified teacher earns.

    She got a similar reaction in her other job when her boss said they’d need to put the cleaner’s pay (who she supervised) up to £8 an hour if they wanted to attract anyone. She said she’d do it for that, as it was 30% more than she was on.

    noteeth
    Member

    Its a very well developed field of economics

    Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing predates Adam Smith, I’m sure. 😉

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    I unfortunately still really need to live in a western society, and try to take pride in the fact that my wife is actually doing a great job and making a contribution to society working as a teacher, even if she doesn’t make the same money as many other people in less stressful, less responsible jobs.

    You’re choosing a pretty rubbish example of either sexual discrimination, or a group who are particularly poorly paid for the job they do there!

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing predates Adam Smith, I’m sure.

    Ugg and Harg probably knew about it but I think Adam Smith was probably first to codify it 🙂

    noteeth
    Member

    Ugg and Harg

    Ugg made a mint out of boots, iirc.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    Harg financed wheel-building and fire-make, but sold the risks to Og.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    Harg financed wheel-building

    I thought that was David Hinde?

    Stoner, thatnks for starting this interesting topic, but this will have to be my last for a bit as I’ve got to go and do some work! So…

    I don’t think that having a very long and boring entry in Wikipedia is necessarily a complete validation of a theory. Actually, what you are pointing out is that people who are already in thrall to markets have in the past tried very hard to make these concepts (love, well being etc.) that they are not too familiar with, fit in with their existing world view. In other words, it is people who spend their time chasing money trying to validate that by equating their money with someone else’s happiness, not people who are happy wasting theri time trying to work out how much that would be worth in money, because they already instinctively know that the answer is “none whatsoever”. An apple is not and never will be universally worth a banana.

    I also don’t think markets are inevitable. There are plenty of examples of societies living perfectly well without markets, although of course they are usually screwed up once western capitalism imposes itself on them. But, even in the face of the worst excesses of capitalism, it is still possible to live happily outside of that – e.g. the Amish in the US.

    Your point about limited resources is even more of an inditement of markets. To me it is immoral that those who already have the most continue to get the most of what the earth holds/produces, but that is exactly what markets do. Those born into wealth continue to control it though market mechanisms.

    Aracer (hi Chris long time no see) – not sure exactly what point you are making. I’m not saying that my wife suffers from sexual discrimination. I’m saying that her job is undervalued by society, but that she/we know that and she chooses to do it anyway, because she has a vocation. i.e. she’s not in it for the money, beyond what we feel we need to get by.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Men are free to become classroom assistants, but are women really free to become grave diggers? A lot of women would find such a job physically very demanding, so one could argue that that in itself was a barrier to the job. If such physical jobs were better paid than others of equivalent SKILL but less physical exertion, that could represent subtle discrimination against women. OTOH, if the market paid the teaching assistants etc more to compensate, then many men would be able to take those jobs instead of the labourer jobs – meaning then that the labourer jobs would have to put up their rates to attract people..

    Note that the above is a purely academic hypothesis, so please don’t take it personally anyone.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    it is still possible to live happily outside of that – e.g. the Amish in the US.

    Way bad example. Very oppressive cult according to some things I heard.

    One could argue that stopping people from charging more money for something if someone’s willing to pay it requires a lot of oppression and severe limitations to freedom…

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    An apple is not and never will be universally worth a banana.

    no, but the comparative exercise uses a proxy (money) to value both in a common currency.

    There are plenty of examples of societies living perfectly well without markets

    Again I would disagree. For any society to operate without a market it requires extraordinary discipline (laws, punishment, banishment, religous opression qv the Amish) to operate. I would be interested to hear of your examples of societies that have lived “perfectly well” and Im sure I could point you in the direction of a black market economy working away in it. The socialist mantra of “to each according to his needs and from each according to his abilities” unfortunately does not take into account “too all according to the volume of the resource”. If the former is greater than the latter then it doest matter how equitable the distribution, there will be an excess of demand over supply – and in such an instance there will always be a market formed to redistribute.

    With respect to finite resources and inequality, again you are confusing free markets with a Market. Freemarkets will as you say tend to inequality – that is not always a bad thing – BUT markets are always the best way of allocating resources. e.g. High Grade north Sea Oil is more profitable in use as a raw material for plastics than pumping into an old banger. Markets ensure that it is put to best use.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    Do nurses get paid less than coppers, then?

    If so, then I’d say that’s well out of order. Nurses have a much greater effective value in society, as they help treat the sick and injured, andsave lives, where as the Filth put innocent people in hospital (now now, RudeBoy) aren’t nearly as effctive as they ought to be (mainly because they are misused, tbh), and don’t do nearly as complex a job. Nurses are required to be educated to a higher standard, and the training is far more intensive. The hours are possibly longer, too.

    Is that a legacy of Sexual discrimination? I’d say so, actually. If women were coppers, and men nurses, traditionally, then nurse would be paid more, I’m sure. more ‘masculine’ roles are rewarded more highly. Always been the case.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    A lot of women would find such a job physically very demanding

    I’d counter this, by suggesting that a lot of men would find being a teaching assistant very emotionally demanding. Women are naturally more suited to caring, nurturing roles. Simple fact, really.

    I spose a greater value is placed on physical work, as the results are more immediately visible.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    “too all according to the volume of the resource”

    Good point. The utopian societies (ie Fiji from the time of European contact) are the ones with effectively limitless natural resources and hence where markets are pointless.

    BUT markets are always the best way of allocating resources

    Could not agree less. They are definitely not the best way for all resources because the extrapolation of the principles means that a lot of people can’t afford food, water, healthcare etc. And this is VERY VERY BAD not just an unfortunate side effect. Certain things need to be protected from market forces, but for others it works well.

    more ‘masculine’ roles are rewarded more highly

    I think that’s down to subtle market forces not active discrimination.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    I agree certain things need to be protected from market forces. I’ll repeat: I am not an advocate of fully free markets in all goods.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Oops, sorry, didn’t really well enough earlier.

    Stoner you always post well on the economics threads – are you an economist or something?

    markets are always the best way of allocating resources. e.g. High Grade north Sea Oil is more profitable in use as a raw material for plastics than pumping into an old banger. Markets ensure that it is put to best use.

    Not so. I happen to think that the best use for most of it would be to leave it in the ground. Of course it remains to be seen if I am right about that, but you can’t currently prove me wrong.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    I’m saying that her job is undervalued by society

    Hi Jon – I’m not convinced it’s that undervalued compared to a lot of other jobs (eg mine 🙁 )

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    RPRT – you’re right, but for the wrong reasons 🙂

    If it were genuninely “better” to leave it in the ground then the market leaves it in the ground. Take Alberta tar sands – only recently becoming profitable to extract. Or indeed very sizeable proportions of the north sea oil fields are left in situ because they are uneconomic to extract at such low pressures once the “easy” oil has been extracted.

    Of course we might have a different opinion on “better”. 🙂

    Stoner you always post well on the economics threads – are you an economist or something?

    Thanks. Its a bit from column A and a bit from column B. Read economics at University, now Im a finance analyst. The interplay of financial and social economic actors and markets always interests me.

    OK, you give me an example of a perfect market in action – any one will do.

    Your example of the tar sands isn’t one BTW – the fact that someone now finds they can make a profit out of doing the wrong thing shows a market failing, not succeeding.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    The deifition of “better” would be more alighned to what you are thinking if the true cost of the environmental impact of the extraction was put upon the extractor.

    Again there’s a whole section of economics on “polluter pays” to use the poltical phrase du jour Which I cant be rsed to go into here. But in essence it would increase the cost of extraction to the point where extraction and non-extraction become viable alternatives much more quickly because the cost to the environment has been added.

    There’s been a raft of books covering popular economics lately, and I can really recommend a load of them for anyone who has the passing interest in why people do what they do (as individuals and as societies). They’re often very funny and strangely insightful.

    A Chapter in the Armchair Economist goes “The Indifference Princple: Who cares if the Air is clean?” and covers specifically pollution pays principles.

    Some other chapter headings:
    “The power of incentives: How seat belts kill”
    “How to solve the Kidney SHortage”
    “The Myth of Ownership”
    “Why Equally Talented WOrksers often Earn Different Salaries”

    The most well known ones is “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything – by Steven D. Levitt (Author), Stephen J. Dubner (Author)”

    others I recommend:

    ” The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics Explains Almost Everything (Paperback)
    by Robert H. Frank (Author) “

    ” The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life (Paperback)
    by Steven E. Landsburg (Author)”

    ” More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics (Paperback)
    by Steven E. Landsburg (Author) “

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    A fish, livestock, or flower auction is usually almost perfect.

    Information is nearly perfect and is equally available (inspection prior to bidding). The price of each trade is known to all and the costs of transaction are constant or calculable in advance.

    The price is directly linked to the desireability of the product and the capacity of the purchaser to make a margin from reselling OR to be satsified that the product is sufficiently superior to an alternative product such that the difference in price is a proxy for the increase in their “utility” or happiness.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    the tar sands analogy is perfectly appropriate. Just you differ on the definition of right and wrong with the state of Alberta.

    noteeth
    Member

    This is the best book on economics, ever. 8)

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    🙂 Probably RTRPs favourite book too…

    noteeth
    Member

    It is actually one of my favourite books… he’d have loved mountain biking, I’m sure.

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