Keeping up with the Jameses

It started almost as soon as we got married. I’d heard that most marital problems involved fights over money but it was still a shock to actually have those nasty, money arguments with my lovely bride over and over and over again.

“Peggy and Tom just bought a new car and we’re still driving your old junker from college. Why can’t we get something new?”

“You want a new car? Is that what you want? Are they giving cars away? We can’t afford a new car” and we wouldn’t talk for two days until she found out that Mary Ann and Jim bought a great new house.

“Can we look at houses this weekend?”

“Jeannie, what don’t you understand? We can’t afford a new car or a bigger house right now.”

“We can’t afford anything. Why don’t you ask your boss for a raise?”

Week after week it was always the same thing, “Why can’t we…?” Keeping up with the Joneses. Nevermind that Peggy is a lawyer and Tom runs his father’s Ford dealership. Nevermind that Mary Ann comes from a very wealthy family and Jim is a dentist. Nevermind that Jeannie doesn’t bring home any income because she’s a stay at home mom and I have a job that pays at a rate that isn’t all that much more than minimum wage.

But things might be changing. New position? Big raise? Big bonus? A great new job at a different company? No, not yet. Here’s why I’m feeling pretty good. Here’s why I think things are changing. Income inequality. I think this income inequality election issue may just catch on.

It won’t be long before I’ll be making as much money as Peggy and Tom and Jim and Mary Ann and I won’t have to hear about what Peggy and Tom just bought. It won’t be long before my 1040 will look like those filed by LeBron James and George Clooney and Bill Gates and won’t that be great?

“Hey, LeBron, let me get that, buddy, I got a little extra this week with the overtime. How about another Big Mac?”

“George, if you need a little something to get you through to payday call me, I know how it is.”

“Did you see that the Yankees just signed a shortstop out of the University of Texas? The kid is supposed to be the next Cal Ripken at short and the next Mickey Mantle at the plate. I think they signed him for $31,000.”

And why shouldn’t we all make about the same amount of money? Why shouldn’t we get rid of this income inequality? They don’t need that much. Oh, I’m sure that someone will say something about my not being able slam dunk a basketball like LeBron or not being quite as handsome as Clooney or as computer savvy as Gates and that’s true but what on earth does that have to do with what we earn? It’s about equality. Let’s keep it fair.

Who am I kidding? Like there would ever come a day when LeBron James and George Clooney and Bill Gates would make what I make, fair or not, the issue of income inequality or not. They’re never going to be stuck making my money.

But you know what that means don’t you? What if income inequality does become the hot election issue? What if something happens?

“Jeannie, I’m home. Sweetheart, call your mother and see if she can watch little Randy.”


“Oh, nothing much. I just thought maybe you’d like to test drive a car or two.”

“Are you kidding? What’s up? What’s going on?”

“Just that when I got to work this morning Mr. Martin called me in, said I was doing a good job and that he was giving me a raise.”

“How much? Is it a good raise?”

“Well, I was making $33,500 a year and now I’m making $21.5 million.”

“That’s fair.”