Mallick: Covet thy neighbour’s salary
April 04, 2011
Officer Bubbles earned $108,000 last year.
Let me repeat that.
Officer Bubbles earned $108,000 last year. That guy, Const. Adam Josephs, the tattooed Toronto cop in sunglasses caught on video at the G20 protests bullying and threatening a young woman protester for blowing bubbles, earned more money than pretty much everyone I know.
Or perhaps not. I could just look up my friends’ salaries on Ontario’s just-released “sunshine list” of every public employee who earns over 100 grand. The list hangs taxpayer-paid salaries out on the washing line for the sun to dry and the breeze to freshen.
That is truly democratic, the kind of gorgeous transparency that Stephen Harper loathes when it comes to his own government. So I should praise this, right? I can’t. Because Officer Bubbles earned . . . sorry, I’ll stop.
Police spokesman Mark Pugash, desperately trying to explain to reporters that it’s probably all G20 overtime and such, earned his $162,000. Are nearly 500 cops visiting him today and shaking his hand for his efforts to defend the indefensible? I bet they’re not. That guy deserves a raise.
Look, I don’t mind sergeants earning 100 grand. It explains something that always mystified me in TV police dramas, everyone talking about “making sergeant” and how tough the exam was. Now I get it. Sergeants bring home big boxes of ziti.
I marvel at the genius of capitalism — it makes slothful homeowners paint their porches and rake their lawns out of pride of ownership — but I am still a socialist in that income inequality troubles me greatly.
But it troubles the hell out of me today because I know smart people who don’t earn what Bubbles does, including the nice young police officer next to Bubbles who watched him turn a brief encounter into a train wreck and yearned to intervene.
I take it he outranked her. Explain that to me. It’s not that Officer Bubbles is overpaid, it’s that he’s overpaid and lousy.
The list is both social comedy and unexploded bomb. One year I checked and the bomb exploded. A guy I had a crush on in high school — handsome, self-adoring and widely known as the dimmest of bulbs — was on the list. My world shifted uncomfortably in its seat.
My problem with the list is that it induces two of the most unattractive emotions: envy and bitterness. If, as CBC.ca reports, 5 per cent of the broader public sector workforce made the latest list, that means 95 per cent of provincial workers are feeling bruised today.
The rest of us are reeling, sick with affluenza. The fact is, everyone who earns more than us is by definition overpaid, am I wrong?
Tens of thousands of people are at their desks today burning with resentment and poised to ask their bosses for a raise.
I would ask mine but for the fact that he would say no and I would go into a blue funk for the next six months — I can pout for Canada, I could be on the Olympic sulking team — and that would benefit neither of us.
Did you really want to open this can of worms? Yes, the sunshine list benefits the Ontario Conservatives led by this Tim — or is it Tom — Hudak person, who thinks public servants should be paid in dried kidney beans and forage for pennies when the snowbanks melt.
But electing Hudak will take us to WisconsinLand, where teachers, nurses, cops and firefighters have just been humiliated and demonized. It may well be cheaper for the TTC to pay current employees overtime rather than hire more staff, but I keep thinking of my former students at Ryerson. Did these bright young people ever get jobs or were they shut out by a hiring structure that favoured inertia?
Further, the list is targeted at individuals and is a massive invasion of privacy.
Pity the people on the list.
Reading it, I felt like a Peeping Tom peering at people who thought they had safely drawn the curtains.