I guess I missed it when I read his own memoir, but I see from the new book about Goldman Sachs* that Robert Rubin began his Goldman career in 1966 with a salary of $13,000. I was making $11,000 that year as a fairly anonymous Washington correspondent for the Louisville newspapers. Meanwhile my friend Ignoto (five years younger) tells me he was knocking back $8,500 as a beginniner at a white shoe Wall Street law firm.
I don't think I grasped then that a humble reporter actually earned more than a baby hotshot lawyer; as to bankers, I'm pretty sure I didn't even know a banker--not the Goldman sort, anyway. Still, it does amuse me to learn that my salary at the time was just two bills away from the salary of the future King of the World.
Ignoto points out that it's not about where you start, it's where you finish. Rubin presumably saw big bucks in the windshield. I, meanwhile, was just beginning to experience the uneasy sense that I had pretty much topped out. Indeed, back in Louisville at the beginning of 1967, I had begun to cast a cold eye across the room on the old guy we can call Jovial Joe. Joe was, by almost any measure, a busted flush: an buffer, likeable enough in his way, but not much use to anybody (in the city room at least), lucky to work for an employer who didn't like to fire people. More than that: at 55-ish, Joe was taking Saturday morning shifts so he could get time and a half so he could pay for his daughter's braces.
I have often said I left journalism for law because I kept meeting lawyers who seemed no smarter than I was who were making twelve times as much money. This is an exaggeration: most of them were not making twelve times as much money (vide Ignoto, supra). Anyway, the real reason I left journalism for law is that I didn't want to wind up like Jovial Joe.
Update: Fifty-five. Old. Yes, sure seemed old to me.