Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Market Value Right Way to Set Salaries

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Market Value Right Way to Set Salaries

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The immortal Babe Ruth was once challenged about his $80,000 salary - enormous for that day and age - when it was pointed out that he took in more for hitting home runs thanHerbert Hoover earned as president of the United States.

The "Bambino's" retort: "Yeah, but I had a better year than Hoover did."

Society struggled with the seeming disparity between the difficulty or utility of various professions, and the compensation received for those jobs, long before the question was presented to the Sultan of Swat.

The debate continues today.

Is Michael Jackson's music "worth" his reported earnings of $50 million a year?

Is Lee Iacocca's job tougher than that of a sole proprietor who devotes 80 hours a week to keeping her struggling business afloat?

Are Johnny Carson's working conditions worse than those of the minimum wage key puncher, cross-eyed from sitting in front of a computer terminal all day?

In recent years, the National Organization for Women and other feminist groups have cast a new light on this age-old dispute. The National Organization for Women insists that certain categories of jobs are underpaid, not on the basis of education or skill requirements - but because they have traditionally been filled by women.

The law today, under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, requires "equal pay for equal work" - that is, men or women, blacks or whites working the same jobs must receive the same pay.

The women's groups, however, demand the application of a new principle, "comparable worth."

That means equal pay for jobs with a comparable degree of difficulty, required skills and working conditions.

If a librarian, for example, needs more education and faces more mental demands than a janitor, than she should earn more than the janitor - not always the state of affairs currently.

Now Congress, ever eager to correct perceived violations of individual "rights," is getting into the act. …

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