Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Aviation Tax

Once upon a time I had a math teacher, an old school, male, teacher who taught geometry as though the ability to bisect an angle with a compass was going to be a life skill that could sustain us in our old age. I'm pretty sure I could still bisect an angle if my life depended on it but then angle bisection is the sort of thing you'd figure out how to do pretty quickly on your own, so long as for you messing around with a compass was about drawing arcs and not seeing how many different things you could stab holes in with the pointy end. The latter seems to me a more life sustaining skill than bisecting angles, but I don't have a bad word to say about geometry.

My math teacher cared about his students, even sponsored a shiny award plaque for the top math student in grade eight. And he would encourage us to get going in life. I suppose math was a frequently failed subject. He'd urge us to do well, and if we couldn't do well right away, to go to summer school and get the course completed. He was very fond of telling us that if you spend one more year in school than you need to, you will lose one year of the top salary you will earn in your life. Students often looked confused when he said this. He thought we couldn't understand that we weren't losing the first year of pay, because they were going to get that anyway, that the money was going to come off the top end, right before retirement.

I'm not sure if he realized that we were confused by the unstated assumption. We didn't see our future careers as an even steady staircase leading upwards in salary from fresh out of school to the day we would retire at sixty-five. Do people do that? It was only two years ago that I reattained the salary of my first career, the one that I left to go into aviation. Given that money was probably worth a bit more back then, I may not have reached that level yet. There are other careers with published salary schedules that I could step sideways into with a slight salary decrease, and then pass my current salary quite quickly, for a bigger pile of money on retirement. But I don't think I'll make the career change. I like flying.

And that's how it works. There are some captains at the major airlines that make a metric tonne of money, but for the most part people in aviation make less money than people with comparable training, experience and responsibility do in other fields. The people who maintain my airplane make less than the ones who maintain my car. The people who taught me to fly made less than the ones who taught me to drive. It goes all the way up: there's never a shortage of investors willing to lose money on aviation. Aviation is cool. That's the tax.

1 comment:

RTD8450 said...

If I've learned nothing else is following you online for quite awhile now, it is that you love what you do, know who you are, are a uniquely highly skilled aviator/aviatrix. You have developed an ability to see a far bigger picture of everything. More so, indeed, than most folks.
It would be both a pleasure and a distinct honour to be able to fly with you!
Cheers from here,