Monday, 10 February 2014

Walter Block's take on wage-gap discrimination and slavery:

This is my reply to Kevin Wm. Wildes, S. J., Ph D. about professor Walter Block's take on wage-gap discrimination and slavery:

Birmingham 10th of February 2014

Kevin Wm. Wildes
S. J., Ph D.
Loyola University

Dear professor:

I have seen your reply to Dr. Walter Block's take on both discrimination and chattel slavery, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is commonplace to say that all knowledge comes from experience, but this is simply not true. It all looks as though "evidence" was a non-problematic concept or idea in your reply to discard Dr. Block's assertion that the wage gap, if there is any, has nothing to do with discrimination and that the only thing wrong with slavery boils down to the fact this is not a voluntary institution.

When we see things around us and interpret certain objects as cars, buildings, furniture, etc., it is not our senses what informs us about the nature of these things, but the fixed set of criteria we evaluate them against. All our senses can provide us with is raw data but not information us such, which can only be obtained after looking through the glass of language and theory. To deny this, would imply there is, somewhere out there, a pure observational language anyone can resort to if in doubt when assessing phenomena, which, obviously, is not the case. All data is theory-laden, and the only way to access it is by means of a theoretical background and language. This is to say there are no facts beyond language, or this or that theoretical scope or set of ideas.

When Dr. Block's denies that the wage-gap is a direct result of discrimination, he is not so more denying the occurrence of such phenomena as discrimination in the actual world, as he is questioning our unthinking response to it. In A Case for Discrimination, Dr. Block has been able to show us that this wage-gap practically disappears when you compare notes, not with the group of the widowed, divorced, married, etc., but do evaluate against the backdrop of the never-married one instead. If discrimination against women is to be blamed for this apparent wage-gap, then, surely, it should be possible to explain this statistical result, but this is something we cannot do based on the idea women are being discriminated against because of their gender.

The main idea to highlight here is that no employer can pay you more than the marginal utility value you produce after time preference is discounted, which is the interest we pay our employer for lending us his capital goods and money so that we can produce to consume now what could only be produced and consumed later. When you come to think of it, the only way it seems possible to discriminate women at work is by way of externalizing the cost onto someone else, and this can only be achieved by public expending. In the UK, for instance, care-workers have won a precedent setting lawsuit against their "ruthless" employer (namely, the City Council) for breaching its own statutory regulations and policies on equal pay, equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work, etc. in the workplace. In this particular case, it was found that women who were on the same income tier as men were actually paid less money than the latter when it was the case both set of tasks, if however different, were comparable or equivalent in terms of their job roles. Here it could be argued whether or not the female workforce's input was equivalent to that of the men's, but it is still true all CCs failed in implementing their own set of criteria according to equal pay legislation.

As for slavery, it is quite apparent that no libertarian would advocate for such a thing as slavery, for libertarian law is based on the idea that no individual shall initiate force or violence onto others when the non-aggression principle is not violated. What professor Block is doing here is elucidating the idea of slavery, but only to come into the conclusion that the only thing that was wrong with this institution was that it was all based on non-voluntary principles. This is to say that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with labour, or endurance, or picking up cotton in the sunny fields of Alabama if you like, insofar individuals do those tasks of their own accord and not so more because of the fact they are forced or coerced into doing it.

Here I'd like to support professor Woods' claim that Walter Block is, not only a brilliant scholar, but also a true gentleman with international support who does not deserve this straw-man, but I think you are already aware of this. Personally, I am a Catholic and do believe in God, but upon inspection, I cannot find anything wrong with any of professor Block's assertions on both slavery and wage-gap discrimination. Surely, this is not going to go down well with any of his international supporters, nor will you achieve to impress any Austrian scholars on this particular matter either, but only God knows why you seem to be so upset about it, or why you hold this personal grudge against him. If you really cared about your institution, and the international image you convey, perhaps you should stop this witch-hunt and start thinking about what professor Block is saying.

Best regards:

Jorge A. Soler Sanz
Innisfree UK CEO and Chief Editor

PS. A Case for Discrimination is due for publication in its Spanish version (En Defensa de la Discriminación), but the Editor´s Foreword is yet to be included.

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