Todd Akin’s orthodoxy

Akin says it out loud: free enterprise includes the right to discriminate in wages. Does Romney agree?

Predictably, now that Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin has refused to step aside for a more presentable wingnut, the GOP operatives who tried to get rid of him are now rallying ’round.

Of course it’s not entirely fair to pin all Akin’s lunatic beliefs on his supporters. But on one point he’s entirely orthodox: his disapproval of employment-discrimination laws. When he says:

I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom.  If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.

he’s right in the GOP mainstream: only three Republicans voted for the Lily Ledbetter law Akin voted against.

Note that, as a matter of logic, it makes no sense to support laws against discrimination in hiring (against women or blacks or gays or Jews) if you oppose laws against discrimination in pay, since an employer could simply offer members of the groups he doesn’t want to hire a wage of zero.

Wouldn’t this be a nice question to ask Mitt Romney? Does he agree or disagree with the proposition that free enterprise includes the right to discriminate in employment?


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

12 thoughts on “Todd Akin’s orthodoxy”

  1. Dude better watch out for Zombie Samuel Gompers if he’s going down that road.

    It really is sad how many Republicans think The Gilded Age was awesome. I suppose it’s something about the gold.

  2. I’m not convinced about the ‘matter of logic’. It seems to me that, for example, one could support a law against discrimination in hiring and use as evidence of discrimination the fact that the employer offered pay much less that the market range to blacks or women. That is, one would allow market-based discrimination in wages, but not discrimination in hiring.

    I don’t think that would be any more logically inconsistent than requiring equal pay for equal work but not doing anything about lower pay in female-dominated jobs than in male-dominated jobs, which is a fairly common attitude for us progressives.

  3. They’ve already asked Mitt that question. He’s refused to answer, on the grounds that his answer might cause someone not to vote for him.

  4. I think it’s about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work.

    A cameo post by “Bux” explaining how Akin’s thinking should be extended to child labor laws would be most appropriate.
    Children really do make the best coal miners you know. Surely Akin (like Bux) believes in the freedom of a family to employ their children as they deem fit.

    By the way this is not snark.
    I believe in pushing wingnuts along the path of their philosophical underpinnings until they are confronted with accepting an absurdity that logical follows from it.

    For example: If Santorum says Global warming is a liberal hoax he should be pushed along that path like this:

    Every industrial nation on earth has their military planning for the various scenarios resulting from global warming. Since you think warming is liberal hoax, will you look into the camera and promise the American people that when you are president will you instruct our generals and strategists to quit wasting time and money on such planning?

    Wingnut positions are ill-formed propositions.
    Their amygdalas don’t “do nuance”:

    Looking at MRIs of a large sample of young adults last year, researchers at University College London discovered that “greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala” ($$). The amygdala is an ancient brain structure that’s activated during states of fear and anxiety. (The researchers also found that “greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex” – a region in the brain that is believed to help people manage complexity.)

    Thus they can be pushed along the path of their least philosophical resistance into a painted corner of absurdities…

    1. What I’ve noticed, in public debate at least, is a little two-step maneuver of
      1) It’s perfectly OK for us to hold these ideas and propose legislation based on them, because the liberals and other sane people will stop us from ever having to face the ultimate implications of our ideas;
      2) Those nasty liberals! How dare they keep interfering with our perfectly OK ideas that would be great for the country.

      There was a good example of this in the explanation (was it here?) of why the GOP wasn’t hypocritical in opposing a mandate as soon at democrats adopted it — the argument was that GOP behavior was perfectly consistent if you just assumed they opposed universal care at all costs, but there was no discussion of what you might call a person who opposed universal care at all costs.

  5. Akin has now declared himself the arbiter of legitimate “ladylike” behavior as well. In an interview he told reporters that McCaskill’s demeanor during last week’s debate was not as “ladylike” as it was in her 2006 debates against Jim Talent because he thought she was more aggressive in attacking his character. Not that it could have anything to do with Akin’s Talent (nyuk nyuk) for exposing his own character flaws every time he speaks!

    1. I’ve watched clips from that debate and failed to notice any lapses from decorum, but apparently it’s “unladylike” to calmly describe your opponent’s political positions. Who knew?

    2. I’m hoping McCaskill will spend the next month praising Akin for his ability to act “ladylike” and for the fact that he has smaller cajones then she does.

  6. Why aren’t defenders of a “free” labor market ever getting hit about all the ways that we allow stuff in the labor market that we would never allow when buying and selling anything else. The fact that secret salaries are not only allowed but are enforced. I have worked for places where divulging your salary was regarded as a terrible offense. Lilly Ledbetter “agreed” to her salary because she did not know the men were getting higher amounts.

    1. On the contrary, Bostonian — deciding to keep salaries confidential is a decision made with perfect information and a perfect power balance between employers and employee. And it preserves respect for the individuality of each jobholder, who would otherwise be treated as a fungible commodity instead of a valuable human being.

      Oh, wait.

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