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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beale: Using Tax Policy to Redress Gender Discrimination After Wal-Mart

Linda Beale (Wayne State), WalMart, Gender Discrimination, Corporatism, the Supreme Court -- and, Yes, TAXES:

The Supreme Court handed down its decision on whether the million and a half women who think they have been discriminated against by the corporate giant because of their gender can bring a class action suit.  [Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, No. 10-277 (June 20, 2011).]

As might be expected in this age of corporatism, the corporate giant won.  Women will have to pursue their own individual cases--making it much easier for the corporate giant to simply wait them out rather than settle, and making it much harder for the woment to hire the kind of top-notch attorneys (like the corporation can hire) to fight their case for them.  In other words, making it much much easier for the corporate giant to get away with breaking the law in its business practices on a routine basis without having to pay for it. ...

Even in academe, men tend to get equity pay raises (big ones) because they play the "game" of pretending that they are going to take a job somewhere else.  Women tend not to, because women tend to be honest about their permanence or impermanence in a place.  So men get a "retention" raise and women don't.  And men tend to start out higher anyway, because of the years of male dominance, and the tendency of the existing status quo to be reinforced by the male deans and male associate deans and male senior professors.

So what's the answer here?  Maybe we need some radical left thinking to counter the radical right fringe element that has almost taken over the country.  How about these ideas--many using tax policy to turn around the corporatist agenda? ...

  • Congress could consider instituting a tax penalty on firms for gender or ethnicity or age discrimination in wages. ...
  • Congress could institute an excise tax on corporations with more than $100 million in income annually, to go into a fund to pay the legal expenses of employees in those firms bringing individual suits against the firms for violating any civil or union rights.
  • Congress could institute a variable corporate rate structure through a rate surcharge for corporations that relates to their record in paying their average workers an equitable salary by having the corporate tax rate increase when the compensation of top managers increases more rapidly than the compensation of the average worker, and a corporate tax rate decrease when the compensation of the average worker increases more rapidly than the compensation of the top managers.

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Tracked on Jun 21, 2011 9:27:22 AM

Comments

Sadly, with Walmart (and similar corporate entities) this may not be a gender issue as much as it is a wealth issue nowadays. 10 years ago or so when the lawsuit started, I believe that it was at a minimum possible that Walmart (and like corporations) actively discriminated against women. but now, I think Walmart (and like corporations) are going to be sticking it to the common worker, rather than the highly paid executive, on a more equal opportunity basis. Less raises for the working class, less benefits for the working class, less jobs that could make you middle class. It is no longer a gender war as much as it is a monetary war. Will women get discriminated against, yeah. But I think the bulk of the "discrimination" will be by monetary class rather than by gender. I wish neither was true, but it think class warfare is going to be much larger than gender warfare.

Posted by: tax guy | Jun 21, 2011 7:16:54 AM

But don't women derive psychological and other benefits from their superior loyalty?

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 21, 2011 7:33:13 AM

3rd paragraph: perhaps not the best way to get taken seriously

Posted by: Matt | Jun 21, 2011 8:33:49 AM

"Even in academe, men tend to get equity pay raises (big ones) because they play the "game" of pretending that they are going to take a job somewhere else. Women tend not to, because women tend to be honest about their permanence or impermanence in a place."

How is this discrimination? Are employers now supposed to give matching raises based on gender? Is this a new affirmative duty for employers? I guess Professor Beale favors equality of outcomes rather than opportunity. Would the professor like a mandated 50-50 gender balance in all jobs as well? (that would really hurt women in some professions)

Thankfully these moonbat ideas rarely make it out of the academy, at least they didn't prior to the current administration.

Posted by: Todd | Jun 21, 2011 8:57:46 AM

Interesting proposals.

1. "Congress could consider instituting a tax penalty on firms for gender or ethnicity or age discrimination in wages. ..."

And what would be the proof? Would a single instance be sufficient to penalize the firm? It would seem to exempt Walmart since a class action could not be brought? Would facing the possibility of such a tax penalty encourage hiring in the US or would it encourage outsourcing jobs?

2. "Congress could institute an excise tax on corporations with more than $100 million in income annually, to go into a fund to pay the legal expenses of employees in those firms bringing individual suits against the firms for violating any civil or union rights."

Interesting inclusion of "union rights." Would such a fund encourage lawyers to bring marginal lawsuits if they knew they were getting paid? What is the excise tax levied on - salaries? If this increases the cost of hiring, do companies hire less or outsource?

3. What is the basis of a movable corporate rate structure based on the relationships of top salaries to average salaries? Income distribution and share the wealth? Walmart would be penalized more than Cisco or Microsoft since the average sales clerk is paid far less than the average software engineer.

Professor Beale is clearly entitled to her opinion - even if that includes the fact that women make less than me since they are too moral (?) to play the game to get higher wages. Whew - what a lack of bias.

Posted by: Ed D | Jun 21, 2011 9:41:21 AM

Prof. Beale, like many public employees in the State of Michigan, really hates the private sector (excepting perhaps those businesses with UAW representation).

Which is one of the reasons Michigan has had a drain of jobs and population, has a very sick economy and will likely have a very sick economy for decades.

Unemployed people are not oppressed by employers!

Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Jun 21, 2011 10:13:32 AM

Linda Beale is insane. Regarding her last proposal, it's already there somewhat in the form of disallowing deduction for executive compensation beyond $1 million. You could just tighten that up.

Second, if a company is engaging in an illegal act in hiring, that is not the purpose of tax law to enforce. I can't believe this woman is a lawyer.

Regarding her first suggestion (tax differentials for different pay), that is already illegal too. And although it's often difficult to prove, it would also be difficult to administer such a penalty through the tax code.

Regarding her claim that men are just faking leaving, that can't hold for very long as it becomes a fool me once/twice issue. So men have to be more likely to leave for even a threat to be credible over the long-term.

Posted by: AZ | Jun 21, 2011 10:43:17 AM

Having tenure, the good professor seems completely unconcerned with the tens of millions of her fellow citizens who can't find jobs and who would be far less likely to ever find work should any Congress be crazy enough to enact her proposals.

Posted by: dl | Jun 21, 2011 12:42:35 PM

Both the left and the right have been struggling for political dominance for at least 40 years. If the current result of that fight is an "age of corporatism" then that is the result of the more persuasive arguments put forth by right.

Why would these specific proposals be anymore successful in changing hearts and minds than previous efforts from the left? Adding complexity to the IRC and using it to punish corporations that don't act in ways in which left approves would only further American resolve of its starboard course, not lessen it.

A better strategy and use of her time would be to articulate the left's values and argue why they are superior to the right's values. Before there is wider acceptance of the left's values, their policy prescriptions are mere entertainment for the right and blog fodder for everyone.

Posted by: James | Jun 21, 2011 1:13:07 PM