‘Tis the season when every big organization and company in town rolls out the main message it wants to convey to Americans on Super Bowl Sunday.
This year is no exception, particularly for the Audi car company. According to reports, the Audi commercial of a father and his car-racing daughter sends a strong message of support of equal pay for women:
But as Carrie Lukas of Acculturated explains, Audi is simply supporting a policy that the U.S. already has in place:
“Audi wants to differentiate itself with the audience by expressing its commitment to equal pay for equal work, but this is already the law of the land and prevails in the overwhelming majority of American workplaces.
Undoubtedly, Audi wants viewers to think of the much-cited Department of Labor statistic showing women earn less than men on average, which is often pointed to as evidence that women routinely face discrimination. But that’s not what this statistic shows as at all. Study after study confirms that after factors like hours worked, industry, years of experience and other factors are taken into account, the wage gap shrinks to just a few lingering, unexplained percentage points.”
But is Lukas really correct in these statements? After all, if recent rallies, protests, and riots are any indication, groups such as women and minorities appear to be suffering from enhanced discrimination and diminished equality.
As it turns out, the increased visibility and demands for equality may actually be a sign that these groups have achieved what they seek. In his 1948 classic, Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver explains that the achievement of equality is often social unrest:
“[A]s this social distance has diminished and all groups have moved nearer equality, suspicion and hostility have increased. In the present world there is little of trust and less of loyalty. People do not know what to expect of one another. Leaders will not lead, and servants will not serve.”
Weaver also notes that those who call loudest for equality have a deeper motive than appears on the surface:
“I would mention here the fact, obvious to any candid observer, that ‘equality’ is found most often in the mouths of those engaged in artful self-promotion. These secretly cherish the ladder to higher designs but find that they can mount the lower rungs more easily by making use of the catchword. We do not necessarily grudge them their rise, but the concept they foster is fatal to the harmony of the world.”
It’s true. Equality has a wonderful ring to it. But do we need to be more cautious in our quest for it? Is it possible that in demanding complete and total equality in everything, we will actually end up less happy and in a society of greater chaos?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.