I didn’t come to work onThursday, November 3. I stayed home while you learned about the origins of your names. When I came back the next day, we had a conversation about how many sick days I get, which turned into a conversation about how much money I make.
We’re taught not to talk about these things. I’m not sure if this lesson is part of our other education or if it happens in schools — probably both. But in class, I tried to be forthcoming because of some reading I’d been doing.
First, a Facebook friend posted an essay that argued that “the prohibition from talking about our earnings is a large part of why growing economic disparities have gone unchallenged.” The essay was prompted at least in part by the Occupy protests currently taking place around the world. Whatever you think of these protests, they’ve certainly made discussions like the one I’m trying to continue here easier.
Next, I noticed that Dorothy Gambrell, the author of my favourite webcomic, Cat and Girl, had posted some charts illustrating how much money she’s made so far in 2011.
Finally, I saw a headline that read “Teens Think They’ll Earn $90,000 a Year by Age 30“. It made me think that the Ontario government’s plan to “make financial literacy a part of every student’s learning” beginning this school year was a good idea, though I still don’t totally understand what their vision is.
In the spirit of the texts I’ve linked to above, then, and in an effort to answer some of the questions you posed in class, here’s my most recent pay stub (let me know if this prompts any further questions, though I still have trouble reading these things):
Of the $73,899 I’ll make this school year (I think), more than $20,000 will be deducted. It will go to my union, my pension, my benefits, and my government. Where does that leave me?
One of the rallying cries of the Occupy movements has been “We are the 99%.” Certainly my income leaves me among the 99% in North America. A global perspective produces much different numbers, however. According to one calculator, I’m among the richest 2.1% of the world’s population, and my income is twenty-five times that of the “typical person.” According to another, I’m the 52,695,820th richest person in the world!
No matter how you do the math, I’m obviously relatively lucky. And I’m truly fortunate in that my job isn’t only a means to an end for me. I teach because I find teaching interesting and sometimes fun in addition to being remunerative. That’s probably why I still haven’t figured out how to read my pay stubs.