Letter to the Editor

Equal pay for equal work

On the surface, equal pay for equal work sounds like a great and noble idea.

First you have to define equal work. Is it the production of some standardized unit? If so, does this take into account how the standardized unit is produced? How much time, energy and company resources are used? Did the employee learn how to do the job better or faster or safer because of the task, or did the employee just do the minimum and in the future will continue to do just the minimum? So much for the definition of equal work!

Let's look at equal pay. Should an employee of a national corporation receive the same pay for this "equal" work if he lives and works in different geographical regions such as San Francisco or Cape Girardeau? Money (pay) derives its value from what it can purchase. Money also has different values over time. So much for the definition of equal pay!

The real problem is in the definition of "equal." Some things may appear equal but in reality are not at all equal. Say you have two quarters in your pocket. They both have a stated value to the government of 25 cents, however one of them may be a silver quarter and the other one minted yesterday. Do they have the same value?

Do we really want the government to be the arbiter of "equal" work or "equal" pay? Sounds like another good intention on the road to hell!

Greg Steiner, Jackson