Sarah Silverman, the left-wing standup comic, just did a serious video about equal pay for women (see below), and started with a personal story about how a male comic friend played the same club back-to-back with Silverman’s set one night, yet he received six times as much money for the gig as she did.
Sarah, upon learning this, returned to the club and asked the owner why. She asked for more.
What an incredibly beautiful, free-market, capitalistic, meritocratic thing to do. Bravo, Sarah Silverman!
“I think the best person for the job should get jobs. I’m all for women having to work harder to prove themselves at this juncture, if that’s the way it is in the world. But if you work a job and a man is working the same job you should be getting paid the same. I mean there’s lots in variables like, you know, how long you been there — this or that. We’re not…I don’t think anyone’s asking for something that’s more than fair.” — Sarah Silverman, standup comic
Asking: This is exactly what is required to ensure that women get at least equal pay for equal work in those instances where it’s not already happening.
What Silverman describes is a market functioning as it should. Just as every shopper for every product or service seeks to pay the least for the best, so every employer seeks to minimize her expenses, while recruiting and retaining great people. It’s a constant balancing act, with innumerable variables to determine the appropriate price at the moment.
Silverman seems to intuitively understand this. In fact, in the course of her five-minute video, the leftist entertainer never says that the government should mandate that women get equal pay. She says women should ask for more. She then takes it further and suggests that a woman’s own low opinion of herself and of her talents may be the primary restraint upon her paycheck. She uses her own personality as an example, so she’s not slamming anyone.
Most men know that this phenomenon is not unique to one sex. Men often do equal work compared with a colleague or the market, but earn less pay, usually because they fail to ask.
Every once in a while, however, we put our big pants on.
Years ago, I had a part-time job at Wal-Mart and by all accounts, including the manager’s and the assistant managers’, I was doing a great job as a people greeter. When review time came, the assistant manager told me that I was excellent in every way, and that she was awarding me the second-highest pay increase within her authority to confer.
I thanked her, and then asked what I would have to do in order to get the highest pay raise. She seemed flummoxed, and told me that it just didn’t happen. Even she had never received the highest pay raise possible. I suggested that if no one ever gets the highest raise, then it doesn’t really exist. She probably had deserved the highest pay, I said, but a mysterious unspoken tradition had denied it to her. We talked about the importance of rewarding good work, and retaining excellent employees. After a minute or so, she nodded and said she could think of no reason to withhold the best from me, and so, my wage was raised 25 cents to $6.25 per hour. I just asked. I was happy, but she seemed even happier.
(The three percent of Silverman’s video where she diverges from me has to do with abortion — although she never uses the word. Her analogy on that issue misses the mark. It’s worth overlooking that, for now, to praise her overall point.)
If you’re a woman — scratch that — if you’re an employee doing good work that produces excellent results, with an attitude that makes you a joy to customer and colleague alike, then perhaps the only obstacle to larger compensation is that you don’t realize what a treasure you are, and your false humility restrains you from asking.
This conservative writer joins with leftist comic Sarah Silverman to say: “Go ahead. Just ask.”