More reasons to hate the 1%

Okay, so this could be seen as my second consecutive post that attacks the wealthy. I don’t mean to get into any sort of class warfare, but, sometimes, things just come up.

Recently, Jonathan Kay (an editor for National Post) wrote a column for Toronto Life titled, Almost Rich, that detailed the difficulties of living in Toronto on a 1%-ers salary ($196K). This prompted a pretty solid takedown (if a little mean) by Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan. Mr. Kay, who has always seemed like a stand-up columnist, offered a rather sporting response to being “Gawkified”.

I had been tempted to write about this, but, thankfully, didn’t, as Chris Tindal has written a better assessment than I probably could have:

And Kay does make some arguments to that effect. He writes that “for many Torontonians, that $10,400 [the after-tax, monthly income of someone making $196,000 a year] disappears fast.” By way of example, he points out that living in a $1.5 million house, spending $1000 on a stroller, renovating a kitchen to add granite counters and “spending a fortune on artisanal cheeses” to host a “casual” weekend gathering is really expensive. (“No shit,” replies Nolan.)

But the profiles that follow, like Kay’s examples, don’t support this argument at all. Instead we’re introduced to one man who spends $800 a month on wine in addition to his $1,000 a month on clothes. We meet a retired couple who buy a new Mercedes every three years using cash. One family of four owns a Toronto house, a cottage and two cars including a BMW while still managing to put away $20,000 a year in savings and go on an annual $7,000 vacation to an all-inclusive resort. Another family’s reported monthly expenses only came to $5,780, presumably leaving them with a $4,000 a month surplus.

Most people would agree those sound like pretty rich lifestyles, as Nolan ruthlessly and convincingly asserts, so if the point of this feature is to argue that $196,000 isn’t that rich, these are very strange examples to hold up.

Mr. Tindal notes that some of the issues at play in Mr. Kay’s columns are worthy of discussion. Unfortunately, they’re not sufficiently addressed by Mr. Kay, nor are they explored in the Gawker rant.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.