Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Google Government Microsoft Social Networks The Almighty Buck Your Rights Online

Khan Academy: the Future of Taxpayer Reeducation? 386

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the illegal-in-michigan dept.
theodp writes "Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has launched a website and gone social on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to educate taxpayers on why they must make good on pension promises to state workers. And, in addition to Squeezy the Pension Python, Gov. Quinn is enlisting the help of Khan Academy, the tax-exempt, future-of-education organization funded by tax-free millions from Google, Bill Gates, and others, to help convince taxpayers that a state-pension-promise is a promise. In the Khan Academy video commissioned by the Governor, Illinois Pension Obligations, Sal Khan concedes that the annual annuity payouts for IL state employee retirees do look 'pretty reasonable' — e.g., $43,591 for the average teacher, $117,558 for a judge — but goes on to argue that 'in all fairness, this was promised to these people,' who he speculates 'probably took lower compensation while they were working,' 'probably stayed in the jobs longer,' and 'probably sacrificed other things' to get these 'great benefits.' 'We're delighted to have his [Khan's] help in enlightening Illinois citizens about how the pension problem came to be,' said the Governor. Of course, not everything can be explained in one video — perhaps other contributing factors like 'pension spiking', lobbyists' maneuvers, sweetheart deals, creative job reclassification, golden parachutes, bruising investment losses, and other wacky pension games will be taught in Illinois Pension Obligations II!"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Khan Academy: the Future of Taxpayer Reeducation?

Comments Filter:
  • Jesus H. Christ, not even Wikipedia has a link-to-word ratio this high.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Welcome to the Web, a medium based on hyperlinks [wikipedia.org]!

  • if you think that everyone will believe everything they see on the internet i have a bridge in brooklyn to sell you

  • Even though I agree with Khan and the Illinois governor that state pension plans are promises that shouldn't be broken (unless the state goes bankrupt and gets bailed out), I don't like the idea of paying someone to give an opinion or educational video. In such a case it will always be doubtful what the real opinion of the paid presenter is.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:00PM (#42162703) Journal
    I'm not sure about Illinois, but in California, the problem isn't current pension payouts. The problem is the payouts we've promised to future retirees are sorely underfunded. In the late 90s the state legislature made the calculation that the stock market would keep going up and up, and expected that the DOW would be around 30,000 right now. Add to the problem that CALPERS hasn't made the best investments, and California has a $500billion unfunded liability. [latimes.com]

    Note that if any CEO of a company managed retirement funds like the state legislature does, he/she would be in jail. I don't know if Illinois has a similar problem, but I do know enough about politicians to think Governor Quinn is not telling the whole truth.
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:26PM (#42162885)

      Note that if any CEO of a company managed retirement funds like the state legislature does, he/she would be in jail.

      I know it's en vogue to bash the government without actually doing anything constructive, but when you do so with obviously false statements, it doesn't help your case. GM managed their retirement funds the same way. Which GM CEO is in jail? How's that working out for us?

      And personally, I dislike the lie of "unfunded". They funded them. They just did so at an optimistic growth rate, that couldn't be sustained. From your link, "In California's case, past pension underfunding means reduced funding of current programs. " Note, after you get past the lies in the headlines and lies in the first few paragraphs to piss people off and get them hooked into the subject, the more true statements come out. The underfunding is close to 100 years old. It's been done by every politician by every party (even Libertarian) for so long nobody can remember any other way. The people knew about it, or are so dumb they couldn't vote anyway. I know as an elementary school student in the 1970s, I was aware (the year was 1979, and it was brought up as part of the politics around attacking Carter to set up for the 1980 elections). If a 5th grader had it figured out 30+ years ago, why is it all a big surprise now? The problem existed in 2000, but the economy was going good enough that nobody cared. But 10 years and a few wars later, and the economy is ill, and now it's an issue? You know why? Because the first person to blink gets all the blame. Both parties covered it up as long as possible, hoping it blew up when the other party was in power. Neither party tried to fix it, the only difference is that when it blows up under a Republican administration, they blame the unions, even if there aren't any unions.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        if spending ONLY 1 trillion instead of 1.3 trillion more than we take in is considered a "spending cut" than unfunded is a fair term
      • And personally, I dislike the lie of "unfunded". They funded them. They just did so at an optimistic growth rate, that couldn't be sustained.

        They are called unfunded because any idiot with half a brain realized there wouldn't be enough money to pay at the end. Apparently you don't understand this.

        At some level lawmakers are aware of this too, that's why they require CEOs to maintain their pension plans with at least some sanity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually at most recent count, the California unfunded liability problem is $884B, and headed upwards, and that is *just* the state employees - cities have similar or worse issues. San Francisco's pension gap is $4.4B, or put another way the taxpayers are on the hook $35,000 per household. The key problem being that the negotiated pension packages assume an 8-12% return on investment in CALPERS/SFERS/etc. No one can live up to that return consistently.

      So now the question is how to handle it. Should the

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Note that if any CEO of a company managed retirement funds like the state legislature does, he/she would be in jail. I don't know if Illinois has a similar problem, but I do know enough about politicians to think Governor Quinn is not telling the whole truth.

      Uh, CEOs do this sort of thing all the time. Go ask the employees of United Airlines how they're enjoying the pensions they worked for all those years.

      At work they're switching from a defined benefit to defined contribution plan, and basically anybody who is in their late 30s is screwed. The old curve basically assigned all pension earnings in the last decade of employment, and the new curve makes it linear and lower overall. So mid-career employees didn't get the chance to earn more when they were young

      • However, at the end of each pay period the employer and employee should be completely even,

        Isn't this how 401Ks are right now?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    he speculates 'probably took lower compensation while they were working,'

    A long time ago this was true. Public employees accepted lower salaries in exchange for job security, great benefits, and more holidays. But here in the wonderful 21st century, they kept all their bonuses AND get paid more.

    When the economy is good, both public and private salaries rise. But when it's bad, the private sector has layoffs and wage freezes. But the government is working with your money, not their own, and has no problem

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:12PM (#42162785)

      It's still true in many government jobs. I know some people doing government IT work, and they get paid a lot less than they could make in the private sector. They do it for a mixture of the benefits, and because they're big-data advocates who have sort of an ideological commitment to getting more government data online, so enjoy their jobs. Professors at state universities also have lower average pay than at private universities.

    • by spune (715782)
      "Public employees accepted lower salaries in exchange for job security, great benefits, and more holidays. But here in the wonderful 21st century, they kept all their bonuses AND get paid more." If ever public sector workers are paid more for similar work than a private employee, it's because the private employee's boss has by now crushed his pay and benefits to increase company profits. The now grumpy private employee comes to believe either that he has some god-given right to be paid more than a state w
      • You're point is empty without mentioning bankrupt cities and states.

        Just like private employees, you picked a wagon, now you're stuck with it.

    • http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

      It's a well-known fact that Federal employees get paid much more than State employees.

      Here we're talking about State employees, not Federal employees.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:10PM (#42162771)
    Perhaps if politicians hadn't made promises they should have known the public wouldn't support in the name of self-same public while pocketing campaign contributions from those who benefited the most from those promise, the public would not be desiring to repudiate those promises now that they are finding out exactly what the politicians promised.
    • While it's easy to blame politicians, ultimately it's the people who have to live with it, and the people who have the power to vote politicians out.

      You rarely see a politician claim to be an atheist. You know why? Because he will be voted out. If people voted politicians out the same way for stupid economic ideas, then we would have similar results.

      So ultimately the fault belongs to the voters. It's our problem, and we're going to have to live with it.
    • I feel sorry for the teachers and other leaf-node employees who trusted unions to negotiate benefits for them and then those unions made deals with politicians for pipe dreams that could never become realized.

      If we lived in a society where those politicians and reps could be sued by those teachers for outright fraud, then we wouldn't wind up in these kinds of situations. Government teachers love to talk about checks and balances, but somehow miss out on their retirement depending on an edifice with neither

  • by taz346 (2715665) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:21PM (#42162839)
    The problem with Illinois pensions isn't the level of benefits. It's that the legislature has been underfunding the pensions for more than 20 years. Legislators and governors have kept tax rates low and spent most of the tax revenues on the general budget, always promising to catch up on pension contributions "next year." As a result, the state's retirement system is now only 36 percent funded. Decent pension fund management would keep it around 80 percent funded. In addition, the legislature gave the state all the responsibility for making pension payments for all local school districts in Illinois except the city of Chicago, letting those places keep property taxes lower rather than taking some responsibility for the pensions they negotiate.
  • And if unions convince a corrupt or incompetent legislature to make impossible promises? A corporation that did that would just go bankrupt and start over and the promise would have to be adjusted. This does happen. I think states have to have a similar option.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:24PM (#42162869)

    goes on to argue that 'in all fairness, this was promised to these people,' who he speculates 'probably took lower compensation while they were working,' 'probably stayed in the jobs longer,' and 'probably sacrificed other things' to get these 'great benefits.'

    These exact same things happen in the private sector and you know what we do? We either put up with it or we move on to another job.

    I'm so fucking tired of the public sector employees whining about their benefits dwindling while ALL sectors face the same problem.

    Just so you know, I have THE WORST possible insurance provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN. I was already paying $500/month for the pleasure. Next year it goes up to $845/month. Am I whining? No, I'm looking for a new job.

    • by spune (715782) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:37PM (#42162947)
      Private employees shirk unionization, then experience pay and benefit cuts, and somehow believe that this is just how the world SHOULD work. Having failed to defend their livelihoods when they had the chance, they become so bitter they demand that no one have decent wages or benefits.
      Public workers have been vigilant in defending their standards of living; maybe you could learn something from them.
      • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @04:45PM (#42163445)

        Maybe it's because the world is globalizing, and because of places like China, all unionizing will do us price us out of the marketplace.

        I don't see union detroit doing all that great, do you?

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Public workers have been vigilant in defending their standards of living; maybe you could learn something from them.

        Yeah, well, maybe those public employee legislators and judges could cut the private sector employees a break the next time some company wants to redefine their pension or do a mass layoff and the employees sue it in court. Unless you want private employees to form mobs I'm not quite sure what you'd have them do.

        In Europe when companies do these kinds of things the government simply tells the company that they aren't permitted to do it, and that their property would be fined/seized and their profitable pro

  • by mfwitten (1906728) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:27PM (#42162893)

    'in all fairness, this was promised to these people,'

    It's easy to promise money, especially when it's not your own money.

    That is the nature of Government; it confiscates resources under threat of violence and then squanders them. Government is a bad company that won't go out of business because it can force you to pay for goods and services even if you don't want them or even if you know they won't be fulfilled.

  • "Commissioned Study" is politician-speak for "Take my opinion, find some numbers that agree with it, omit ones that don't, and release it as a third party so it looks like other people agree with me."
    • Commissioned Studies do not always take the side of the politicians that created them. Those politicians down play or bury studies they don't like; the ones that go their way are promoted. There are bad and good studies and you can find bad scientists to back creationism or smoking too. If their data is openly published one could investigate it... or if they have projections if those come out accurate (thinking of the recent election, where most the mainstream was dead wrong and none lost their jobs.)

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:31PM (#42162911)

    Why should politician's promises about pensions be any different than any of their other promises?

  • Bad move khan (Score:2, Interesting)

    I can think of all kinds of people with some silly opinion that want to call it educational but at some point it is propaganda. I could create a mathematically correct lesson on linear algebra that also disparages some group purely sticking to factual data.

    At the same time there is factual data that some may want to hide because of embarrassment that has educational value. So the hard question is the motivation of the offense not the offended. People living in Quebec were offended when a magazine recently
  • health care should not be tied to jobs that is a big part of costs of employing people.

  • If I were a member of a union I would want a new union with a new pension plan. Many of these pensions made massive promises in the past and now a bunch of boomers are, at least in theory, looking at pretty good pensions. Yet now that the time has come to pay out these pensions the real costs are coming due and they are looking both to the taxpayer and to the existing members to pay these old pensions while negotiating far lesser pensions with the new members. The new members pension fees are typically far
  • I have no illusions about my retirement as a teacher. Like most teachers, I'll work until I drop dead or get shot by some drug-addled shave-head over some girl with tattoos, enough shrapnel in her face to imitate a 50's Dodge, and holes in her earlobes big enough to drive an SUV through who probably won't grace me with her charming presence that particular day. Neither of these two could possibly benefit from an education, because they will have so ruined themselves that Walmart will consider them an iffy e

  • If you don't hold it, you don't own it. If its denominated in dollars, your wealth is tied to the strength of the US economy. Social security is a ponzi scheme, it relies on a flawed idea of perpetual population growth.

    This isn't your father/grandfather's economy anymore and the idea of working at the same factory for 50 years isn't realized anymore. Whether that is a good/bad thing is irrelevant. Because of this, we need to go away from social security, pensions, 401(k)s and insurance tied to work. Ins
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @06:06PM (#42163949)

    Sorry, but between pensions, social security, and a giant medicare squeeze under way it will not be possibly to meet all of the empty promises that have been made over decades.

    Someone is going to HAVE to lose out, to not get all of what they promised. The coming fight is who is going to be left holding the bag.

  • by Dak Halliday (2786177) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @09:32PM (#42165187)

    Hate to have to say this about Illinois Governor Quinn.

    I don't think Illinois Governor Quinn intends to honor any promises made to Illinois retirees. Typically, retirees took below market wages for decades in exchange for promises of a decent pension with cost of living (COLA) increases to partially compensate for inflation, and paid health insurance. Employees had to accept hefty deductions for the pension itself and additional deductions to fund a COLA. The State was supposed to match those contributions. In addition, many employees were asked to forgo eligibility for Social Security. This was so the State wouldn't have to kick in their required Social Security contribution.

    I've read the legislation Quinn and his allies have been trying to run through. He wants to sock retirees with the full cost of health insurance, and make them forgo their COLA. Some of these retirees are making less than $12,000 annually, and may not be able to keep their homes if Quinn's proposals go through. Governor Quinn asked the families of retirees to talk to them over Thanksgiving dinner. My kids told me that I should not agree to give up any part of my retirement benefits. They weren't sure they could afford to support me. They said I should not trust Governor Quinn.

    It turns out that the State hasn't been making their matching contributions, and in some cases the State may actually have side-tracked employee deducted contributions. In addition, the State of Illinois has been promising tax breaks to wealthy corporations - promises they can't make good on if they have to pay what they owe retirees.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

Working...