November 05, 2007

And the Rich Get... Er... $89,000?

There are some recently released statistics from 2004 (compiling is apparently not the quickest thing to do) that show to be in the top 5% of income earners in Canada, you only have to be bringing in $89,000. That's not even net earnings, but gross.

Considering I live in a place that, even in this rural community, you can't find a house in any kind of decent shape for less than $200,000, this number comes as a bit of a shock.

Which gets me wondering: how much does debt count as wealth?

How far into debt are people going to get homes that are a quarter of a million dollars; or cars that are half a year's income after taxes; or a four year degree, usually earned without any income at all? Those are all quite moderate expenses, I think we can agree: but they don't take any other costs into consideration, and I'm sure you can think of another dozen without even looking around your home. posted a question on their discussion board which was interesting in the responses it brought out: how rich do you feel? A considerably different question than "how rich are you?"

A large number of responders talked about their quality of home life, and kept the perspective of the world at large compared to life in Canada. This is a good sign.

I was born poor, and I still am; but my homes have always had glass in the windows. We ate, sometimes monotonously; but food was always there. And I currently live in what could only be considered a small home: 600 square feet, with a back half that needs a serious rebuild.

But I also get to confuse telemarketers who call. My last such conversation, for instance:

*ring ring*

Me: Hello?

Solicitor: Hellooo, I'm calling from [bank XXY] to tell you you have qualified for the Master Card Platinum Card -

Me: Why do I want one?

Solicitor: Well... You have qualified for a Platinum Card Master Card -

Me: Why do I want one?

Solicitor: I'm sorry? Why do you... *trails off into silence, while banks of more fortunate shills proceed with their sales pitches in the background*

Me: What would I use it for?

Solicitor: It's a credit card -

Me: Ah. I don't use credit cards.

Solicitor: You... You have qualified for a Master Card Platinum Card -

Me: I don't use credit cards.

Solicitor: But you have qualified for one.

Me: No, thanks.

The best part of playing this game is waiting until they decide I'm a lost cause and hang up. Some of these folks are disturbingly tenacious, but the real fun is when they just can't understand why you'd turn down something as wonderful as a Master Card Platinum Card.

We have just gotten into our first debt in the past five years: we bought a second-hand truck and had it converted to propane. Otherwise, that's the sum of it: we own our house outright, have no cards, and aren't willing to engage in deficit spending to go on vacation.

This contributed to the conversation I had at work yesterday, where the other desk employee insisted that she could tell me what to do.

My reply is that no, she can't.

She can tell me what work needs to be done, and what my share of it is, and even how to do it - but that's it. My debt load is so small that I can walk away from this job at any time. If I think my employer is overstepping his or her boundaries, I have the ability and the freedom to tell them so. If I think their behaviour is insulting or unsuited to the workplace, I can say so. If I have an issue with what is being done by the company I'm working for, I can ask to do something about it.

In short, I can walk before they can fire me.

And just how rich does that make me feel?


posted by Thursday at 10:22 am


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