Saturday, August 24, 2019

Mike Hosking: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has become a serial thought bubbler

A disappointing week for the agenda worriers.

All those who have their lofty ideas and ideals as to how we've cocked up any given number of societal issues and have set out to amend them.

The gender pay gap, a calling card for a decent number of worriers and luvvies, turns out with new stats this week to still be a bit, well, stuck.

Turns out it hasn't changed since 2017, it's at 9.3 per cent. It is of course, if you apply any logic, a farcical number, an invented number for an invented problem.

But that hasn't stopped the earnest immersing themselves into heroic levels of virtue signalling to, if not close the gap, at least to talk about closing the gap. And no one talks about stuff more than our serial thought bubbler, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

She declared, because you will note the significance of the date 2017, the very year she arrived, that she was disappointed and there was more work to do.

Politically speaking, this is why she has the issues she has. This is why the gloss has come off the shiny veneer of Ardernism. She injects herself into things she can do nothing about. Or perhaps in some cases won't do anything about.

The reason there is a so-called gender gap is not because women get paid less full stop. It's because some women choose to do work that historically is paid less. The same way you would have a gap if you measured the average wage of all the blokes who choose to be mechanics versus all the blokes who choose to be lawyers.

Work is paid for based on a variety of things. Skills, what you can on-sell the work for, supply of labour for the job, growth of the job in any given sector, amount of union involvement in the job, the role of technology in the job, the age and experience of the overall workforce in the job. Lots of different factors.

Gender is, if anything at all, a minor part. To close the gap, if we were to artificially close it, would be to regulate - for example - all women entering a certain profession would be paid more than their male counterparts. Or any given sector that currently is male-heavy, would be skewed by only allowing females to join for a certain period of time until the balance was 50/50.

Or women would be directed into specific areas of numerical shortage. They're absurd examples, but then the problem - if you even want to call it that - is absurd as well.

Jobs are not apples, and unless you're comparing apples with apples it's not a fair comparison. Some people are drawn to some sectors. The famous case of course was rest homes, hence the landmark deal and court case.

And if you artificially jack-up remuneration on gender, you've put a pressure on that sector beyond its ability to cope. Someone still has to pay for it, especially when the market which had already sorted it out, is up-ended.

The value of work is based on the work, not the worker. That's why the gap hasn't closed, and it's why being disappointed and talking about it some more won't change that.

Mike Hosking is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB, who has hosted his number one breakfast show since 2008 - see HERE.

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