Take a deep breath. Relax. Center yourself. Think about your bank account. Now. Are you ready for an article explaining why $196,000 per year is not that much money? Good.
This is a common theme, reiterated everywhere from golf course bars to the pages of various rich person-centric newspapers and magazines: "[Salary much higher than yours] might sound like a lot, but once you consider the cost of living, I'm really not even close to being 'rich.'" Yeah. Fuck you. Today's entry in this category comes in the form of a Toronto Life essay by Jonathan Kay, which is god damn enraging, assuming you make less than $196K per year (the cutoff line for Canada's top 1%). "That's no small amount of money, but hardly the means for a life of leisure," Jonathan writes. OH? "In an increasingly pricy city like Toronto, where we pay a premium for everything from milk to car insurance, $196,000 can seem positively middle-class." Please Jonathan, justify yourself, with numbers.
Break it down, and it translates to roughly $10,400 a month, after taxes. For many Torontonians, that $10,400 disappears fast. Thousands go to the mortgage. For those with young kids, daycare can cost upwards of $1,500 a month. There are the car and RSP payments, wardrobe refreshes, utility bills and something to set aside for when the furnace inevitably conks out. Plus the cost of the sushi, pad Thai and butter chicken that we order in three nights a week-because we're all too tired to cook by the time we get home from work.
Then there's the stuff that fills our houses-the calibre of which is the subject of intense, unspoken competition among my peers and neighbours.
And here we see the fundamental dishonest characteristic of each and every article which advances this particular enraging argument. "Sure, it's an objectively large sum of money," they say. "But it is far smaller after I spend it."
Money pays for the costs of life. That is what money does. You can't fucking argue that, hey, your money doesn't go that far after you've already spent it. You used it! Paying taxes and paying bills and paying the mortgage and putting money in a retirement fund and going out to dinner are the things that money gets you. You asshole. Just because you didn't blow it all on jewelry, caviar, and cocaine doesn't mean you didn't get anything out of it. This argument is like a man eating a hearty meal, licking his plate clean, then turning to a starving person and saying, "Look, we're in the same boat. My plate is empty too!"
Now let's examine a few of the expenses listed by the five "prosperous Torontonian" households that this piece uses to illustrate the fact that $196K a year really ain't all that much. Here, a sampling of some of the monthly expenses of these "positively middle-class" folks:
Gas for their Jeep Commander and Ford F-150 truck: $440.
Cleaning lady: $160.
Condo fees: $900.
Gas for their Mercedes E320: $150. ("We buy a new Mercedes every three years; it's our big indulgence," says Doug. "We always pay cash. This one was $80,000.")
Clothes at Harry Rosen and shoes from online collectible sneaker stores: $1,000.
Groceries at Loblaws, Metro, Fortino's and the Oriental Food Mart on Finch West: $1,600
Hair salon: $400.
Vitamins, creams and lotions at Shoppers: $400.
Eating out, mostly at Swiss Chalet and Jack Astor's: $840.
Money: once you spend it all, you don't feel rich any more. Someone should write an essay about that.