Politics & Policy

Real Women Have Upward-Sloping Income Curves

The great untold story of wage equality.

 Has anyone told you that under President George W. Bush we have seen the highest levels of gender-income equality in American history? I didn’t think so.

#ad#Last week the U.S. Census Department released its annual survey of poverty, income, and health-insurance coverage. Since the poverty and income have improved, the press has focused almost exclusively on health insurance. That’s a pity, because we’ve heard a drumbeat of outrage since the 1960s about how “a woman only makes 59 percent of a man’s income.” Aside from the fact that this stat fails to compare people of different genders performing the same work, it’s also hopelessly out of date. That number is now 77 percent. This highest level of income equality ever — and it happened under a Republican president.

This is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect after supply-side tax cuts are implemented. The chart above shows how equality rose after the JFK tax cuts, the first giant income leap forward for womankind; how the Reagan tax cuts left women much better off than they had been eight years earlier; and how the Clinton capital-gains tax cut showed the world that he really did know how to treat the ladies.

The great untold story of wage equality goes like this: Supply-side economics is a revolutionary force. It places a premium on brains rather than brawn, and it throws open the doors of the Old Boys’ Club to the most competitive bidders for capital. Glass ceilings are a corporate thing, not an entrepreneurial thing. In an environment of rapid growth, seniority (or even señorita-ity) is no longer relevant. Performance is. When’s there’s one bank in town, you’d better hope you were in the same fraternity as the loan officer. But in a deregulated environment where banks compete, she wins if she’s got the best idea and a good FICO score.

Maybe that’s why they hate us. The Islamofascists, I mean. What would capitalism mean behind “the Burkah Curtain”? The very old boys’ network knows exactly what it would mean.


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