There was an article in the Sunday NY Times Style section by Allen Salkin titled You Try to Live on 500K in This Town about the problems of the poor Senior Executives that may have to try to live on a mere half million in NYC. While the article I presume was jocular in intent, inviting us to view their plight “not in sympathy but in sport,” I did notice just a wee bit of that perverse pride of New Yorkers that their city is too expensive to live in even for God. With a certain amount of satisfaction, Salkin lays out the basic upper crust expenses, noting that these are necessities to persons of power, “If you run a bank, you can’t look like a slob,” and concludes that senior executive life in NYC couldn’t be accomplished for less than $1.6 million, before taxes. A few of the figures are a little off. Salkin includes an estimate of $32,000 for tuition for the kid’s private school–which is in line with Andover’s tuition of roughly $30K for commuters, $38K for boarders. But this doesn’t include clothes, fees, books, etc., which brings the total according to Andover’s estimate, to approximately $68K per year. $68K? That’s several years salary for many families of four in these United States. The kids are right: Bendover, indeed!. Then I noticed something curious. Salkin had included an entry for a nanny at 45K a year. And I started wondering what Mrs. CEO does (or Mr., but probably Mrs.) Does she work? I presume Mr. CEO wouldn’t marry down to a woman of less than commensurate status–unless he’s already on the final stage of the standard upper class 3 marriage career (starter wife to support you through business school, breeder to provide progeny, and trophy wife/wives to cheat on in your old age) in which case, we eliminate the nanny expense but add in child support and divorce settlement expenses. Perhaps Mrs. CEO is an upper level executive herself with salary NOT affected by the 500K cap. After all, that cap only applies to senior executives of companies taking government billions and NOT in particularly good shape even then. In that case, no problem. But if she isn’t working, what do you need a nanny for? The big baby in the executive office? Hmmmmmmm. But then I noticed another expense for a personal trainer. Ahhhhhhh that’s why Mrs. CEO is too busy to take care of the kids. Keeping her body in tone. And maybe a little more. After all, if Mr. CEO is busy with the nanny, someone’s got to take care of Mrs. CEO! Perhaps Mr. CEO has a mistress–then you don’t need the nanny expense, but then you have to add a few 100K to keep the mistress in room and board and clothing. AHHHHH. CLOTHING. Salkin talks about the 1K Brooks Brothers suit. Is he expecting Mr. CEO to buy off the rack? Tailor made, starting at 2K in the city, three per season, an easy 24K. And what about Mrs. CEO’s wardrobe–think Sarah Palin. 150K minimum…and 150K again for the mistress. Not the paltry 3 party dresses that Salkin budgets for. We’re getting back up into the multi-million dollar range.
Mr. Salkin doesn’t say a word apart the parties that Mr. CEO must throw to keep up appearances. That can easily total another 100K per year.
Perhaps the point of Mr. Obama’s salary cap is NOT to allow Mr. CEO to conduct “business as usual.” After all, business as usual was what bankrupted his company. Perhaps he needs to be reintroduced to how the other 99.99% live. Even in New York.