How much do you make? Would you be comfortable telling family, friends, complete strangers the exact dollar figure? Would you mind if it was listed in a national magazine?
Who makes how much is a topic Maclean's magazine calls "Canada's dirty secret" in their cover story this week. In a 15-page report, the mag has printed a giant list of who makes what in Canada, ranging from big names to average Joes.
Some notables: Even sans shirt, Justin Bieber tops the list at $55-million a year, while Canadian crooner Michael Buble comes in second at a meager $37-million annually. Jose Bautista, Sidney Crosby and Ryan Gosling make $14-million, $12-million and $10-million, respectively. Comparatively poor talking head Don Cherry earns $800,000.
But beyond satiating a usual desire to envy and scorn wealthy Canadian athletes and celebs, the magazine goes on to list salaries of regular folk.
Kids, if you want to be a zoo keeper in Calgary, you're looking at $60,524. A taxi driver in Vancouver? $25,332. (Interestingly, that number almost doubles in Ontario.) Major league umpire? $350,000.
Maclean's senior editor Jason Kirkby told the Star that "It's a Canadian thing" to not want to talk salaries but I'm fairly certain it's a universally tacky topic of conversation.
This isn't just a Canadianism, a by-product of being from the land of the free, home of the politically correct.
Aside from a serious discussion about what we're paying our public sector employees (Canada's top public employees make a lot of money, compared to their U.S. counterparts, according to this piece), is it really anyone's business how much you make? What purpose does it serve other than an uncomfortable comparison to others?
Anyone who knows me will know I hate talking money and I despise talking about my earnings with even my closest friends. Not because I make a lot of money or too little money but because it's all relative, and incredibly private, and can only lead to eyebrow raising or awkward judging.
The thing with salary discussions is that it inevitably leads to a weird comparison: whether the job at TD is really worth the same at CIBC, or the trade analyst is a better person because he makes twice what I do.
While I was a little surprised that Joey Bats brings in more than Sid the Kid, it left me asking what purpose this big "cheat sheet" is serving, and what good can come out of knowing I make more than a Montreal roofer.
It's part of the reason why I get uneasy reading about the salaries of firefighters (yes, I know, they're public sector, so it's sort of our business - but personally I think running into burning buildings is worth $100,000) or avert my eyes to the stories about the unpaid interns over at Lean In (true, a tacky move on Sandberg's part but if I worked there, I'd be cringing right about now.)
Knowing someone's salary doesn't really give you an indication of their wealth, or their real value. It's less about being a Canadianism to not talk about it and more about plain common decency.
(Helpful tip: no one wants to know about your "giant salary" within five minutes on a first date. Even if it's six figures, you're being weird.)