Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This is a little much. Judge Sotomayor has only roughly $100,000 in savings, but look, she is (I gather) a single woman with no children. She has a life tenured position where her salary is paid by the United States and which she can be fired from only with serious cause. She makes only $179,000 per year but it is as secure as a job can be. She has a generous judicial pension plan that will kick in as soon as she has enough years of service, and given that she has been a federal judge for so long, she might even be able to retire now if she wants to. Just guessing, but judging from her resume and lifestyle, she sounds like a workaholic devoted to her career and immediate family, so she doesn't have time for any ballooning vacations to the south of France anyway. I don't see any hobbies like yacht racing or wine collecting. If that changes, any day she wants to she could walk out of her current job and into a partnership at a law firm in Manhattan or DC and get paid (guessing again) maybe $2 million a year, with the potential for a lot more. In short, when you take Sotomayor's human capital and circumstances into account, there is nothing wrong with her balance sheet. Sure, she could have another $500,000 tucked away, and that would be nice. But why should she? She has no dependents, except maybe her mother, but her brother is a doctor who, let us assume, is doing well. She has a guaranteed job for life with very generous retirement and health benefits, and any day she decides she wants to be a millionaire, all she has to do is pick up the phone. She's doing a job she must love and be good at or she wouldn't be where she is, and she will probably like Supreme Court justices unfortunately tend to, work until the day she can't figure out what button to push in the elevator anymore, if not well past then. So I think Mankiw should ease off.