But there is something more going on here, I think. There is simply no way that any of the information about Kavanaugh’s finances that has been reported could be considered newsworthy if it were not for the fact that politicians, journalists, and other well-heeled meritocrats are utterly clueless about money, especially other people’s. Imagine finding it surprising that anyone, even a respected judge, has considerable debts and very little in the way of savings or investment. A survey earlier this year found that only 39 percent of Americans say they have $1,000 in cash savings to cover an emergency. The average American has more than $6,000 in credit card debt; the average amount of student loan indebtedness is nearly $40,000. A good headline for a piece about Kavanaugh might have read “Report: Trump Supreme Court Nominee Broke Like the Rest of Us.”
Even worse than the cluelessness is the implicit — and sometimes more than implicit — tendency to moralize about the way other people spend money.