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What's the Fuss at Wimbledon?
July 22, 2003
by Carey Roberts

Let's say you are the owner of a Mom and Pop grocery store. You have two employees, Jane and Mary. Jane works 3 hours a day, while Mary clocks in 5 hours. Jane comes to you asking to be paid the same amount as Mary, since her paycheck isn't "equal" to Mary's. How do you respond?

Despite the absurdity of this scenario, this is exactly what is playing out in the world of professional tennis.

At Wimbledon, men must play up to 5 sets to win, while women only play 3 sets. Obviously, you can show a lot more commercials for Pimm's during those 2 extra sets of tennis.

But the female tennis players think they are entitled to equal prize money.

This is how the CEO of the Women's Tennis Association explains it: "It's not about the money, but the women feel very strongly that as a matter of principle...they deserve equal prize money."

Note the selective application of the word "equal." If the WTA believes in true equality, then why not pay the runner-up the same as the first place winner?

And the comely Anna Kournikova garners $7-10 million from product endorsements, far more than any male tennis players do. Why not allow the men to benefit "equally" from parading around in their underwear?

But the intellectual dishonesty that underlies the Wimbledon controversy is a mere skirmish in a much larger war.

Common sense and anthropological research reveal these facts about women, men, and work:

1. Women are the primary caregivers of infants and young children.

2. In order to support women in their caregiver role, men become the primary breadwinners.

3. Men predominate in occupations such as mining, construction, fishing, and lumbering. While these jobs may pay well, they are far more perilous.

But these biological and social facts are ignored in a recent report from the International Labor Organization. The recent ILO document, "Time for Equality at Work" makes the case that sex-based wage discrimination is rampant around the world.

Here's a glimpse into the ILO's logic: "Truck drivers, for instance, are usually men." This lamentable fact is explained by what the ILO calls "occupational segregation," which means that women are unwittingly being shunted into the low-paying jobs. Apparently, the ILO wants mothers to breastfeed their infants as their 18-wheel rig careens down a two-lane highway.

The ILO report makes the claim that "Occupational segregation by sex has been more detrimental to women than to men." If this is true, then why is it that men are often forced to spend long periods away from home to support their families? And why are men, not women, the victims in 9 out of 10 occupational deaths?

And if there is any lingering doubt, this statement on page 51 of the manifesto reveals the true intentions of the ILO: "The growing prevalence of wage-setting systems based on workers' productivity or performance instead of on the content of the job raises new challenges for achieving pay equity."

In other words, the "content" of the job (as determined by some heavy-handed government agency) should count for more than how much a worker produces. Clearly, ILO does not understand that delinking salary from productivity undermines the entire economic engine of society.

If the ILO's insidious theories continue to spread, the Law of Supply and Demand will become a quaint historical footnote. Instead, my Comrade, we will be singing the praises of "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

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