Bill Gates, a man who, no matter how many untold billions of dollars he gives away to charity, still seems to have untold billions more, was in Long Beach, Calif., yesterday telling states that they need to manage their money better. Actually, "telling" isn't the right word. "Mocking" or "shaming" might be a better one.
The Wall Street Journalreports from the TED conference, where Gates said that state governments set up their budgets in a way that's "riddled with gimmicks" like selling state assets and deferring debt payments, and is "so blatant and extreme" that "Enron would blush."
He said that states are spending too much money on public pension programs and state-sponsored health care, and that it's impacting education.
Mr. Gates said states are stuck in a system that pays out vast amounts for early retirement, health care, and pension obligations while education suffers as teachers are laid off, class sizes increase, and tuition increases.
"It really is the young versus the old, to some degree," he said. "You're going to be de-investing in the young."
His comments were tinged with sarcasm as he outlined the tattered state of some state budgets. "The games they play to hide that actually obscures the topic so much people don't see what are really straightforward challenges," he said.
Entitlement programs like public pensions and state-run health care might seem a strange target for a lefty like Gates. But in the face of education, Billy's truest love, no cow is sacred.