Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released his Wastebook 2014. His annual list is the most wasteful government projects during 2014. Coburn’s wastebook list includes a comprehensive analysis of 100 of the most wasteful government projects funded over the last year.
With the national debt exceeding $18 trillion, a number too vast for the human mind to comprehend, and with no sign of slowing despite the steady upward creep of taxation, this list of government waste ranges from the redundant to the downright absurd.
Many of these projects tend to be funded by countless federal agencies without direct approval by Congress, thereby avoiding accountability to those of us left to finance them.
CNS News listed the following examples:
• Teaching Mountain Lions to Ride a Treadmill: $856,000 – The National Science Foundation shelled out nearly a million taxpayer dollars to determine if captive mountain lions could be trained to ride a treadmill. The University of California-Santa Cruz researcher even boasted about receiving the grant saying, “People just didn’t believe you could get a mountain lion on a treadmill, and it took me three years to find a facility that was willing to try.” If anyone was wondering, it took the lions all of eight months to learn.
• Swedish massages for rabbits: $387,000 – The National Institutes of Health paid this six figure sum to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in order to discern whether Swedish massages would be helpful in recovering from an illness. “A group of rabbits received daily rub downs from a ‘mechanical device that simulates the long, flowing strokes used in Swedish massages.’”
• Studying how many times “hungry” people stab a voodoo doll: $331,000 – After teaching mountain lions about treadmills, the National Science Foundation also funded a study to come up with the self evident conclusion that hungry people tend to be more angry and aggressive. They tested this theory by allowing spouses to poke pins into voodoo dolls as their “hanger” grew.
“Over the course of twenty-one consecutive evenings, 107 couples were given a chance to stick up to 51 pins into a voodoo doll representing their spouse. The pin-pushing happened in secret, away from the other partner. Participants then recorded the number of pins they poked into the dolls. Those tests revealed what may already be obvious to many couples: a spouse with low blood sugar was an angrier one, and stuck more pins in the doll.”
• Studying the gambling habits of monkeys: $171,000 – Another NSF grant funded the study of gambling monkeys. Under the guise of studying the “hot-hand bias” in human gamblers, the University of Rochester devised a computer game, taught monkeys to play it, and studied how they responded to winning and losing. A doctoral candidate who worked on the study seemed pleased to learn, “Luckily, monkeys love to gamble.” Taxpayers, on the other hand, will not be pleased to find out this study is set to continue through May of 2018.
• Producing the children’s musical: Zombie in Love: $10,000 – The National Endowment for the Arts funded the production of a musical to die for. Aimed at children four and up, the musical tells the story of Mortimer the teenage zombie and his quest to find love and happiness. The NEA officials justified this use of tax money by saying that Mortimer “exemplifies anyone who has felt like an outsider.”
• Funding a “Stoner Symphony”: $15,000 – The location of this performance shouldn’t shock anyone. What is sure to shock taxpayers is the amount of their money that was provided to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to host “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series.” Not only was the program pot-related, the people were encouraged to inhale (and chow down) while watching.
“One of the three concerts, called Summer Monsoon, advertised on its website this way, ‘Smoke up and fill your belly with Manna’s spiced pork, Sesame Seed Teriyaki Chicken, and Filipino Empanadas.’”
• Subsidizing Alpaca Poop: $50,000 – In addition to this project making the cut for Sen. Coburn, this little gem was also covered by CNSNews.com. The U.S. Department of Agriculture shelled out a hefty sum to help develop and market Alpaca “Poop Packs” for use as fertilizer. This is government waste, literally.
• Synchronized Swimming for Sea Monkeys: $307,524 – This project garnered the support of three government agencies (National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation). In an effort to study the swirl created when sea monkeys move throughout the water, researchers developed a “laser guided,” “choreographed” team of synchronized swimming sea monkeys.
• Produce a “Hallucinatory” Roosevelt/Elvis show: $10,000 – In what could quite possibly be the weirdest project on this list, the NEA helped fund the production of a show about the hallucinatory journey of a girl pretending to be Elvis and gallivanting around with America’s 26th president.
“In one scene, Ann hallucinates that she is Elvis, and that she and Teddy are romping around their hotel room in their underwear, with Teddy eventually riding around on Elvis’s back as though he were a bucking bronco.”
• Funding Climate Change Alarmist Video Game: $5.2 million – As polls show climate change is dead last on the Americans’ list of priorities, the NSF felt the need to help “spur climate change activism.” They paid Columbia University to develop a video game entitled “Future Coast,” where rising seas cause mass chaos and weather calamities of epic proportions. The story is set to a bunch of voicemails from the future describing the anarchy.
“One caller claims “neo-luddites” are out to kill anyone with scientific knowledge,496 and another paints a cryptic image of a zombie apocalypse saying that ‘when you see them, you will know what to do.’”
• Teaching Kids to Laugh: $47,000 – The National Endowment for the Humanities funded classes at UCLA and Butler University to teach college students about laughter. In seminar’s like “Why is it funny” student will presumably learn “how laughter plays with our perceptions” and “whether comedy is a ‘guy thing’.”
“As a final project, students will develop either a stand-up routine or a, “comedy piece using the tools of digital storytelling.”
• Developing a real-life Iron Man Suit: $80 million – It seems the DoD is attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the Iron Man movies in order to develop its very own real-life replica. Dubbed TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit), the Pentagon will spend the next four years trying to build a suit made “of military super-armor to withstand bullets and carry hundreds of pounds, all powered by [a] futuristic energy source.”
“And while a promotional video for the TALOS program shows bullets ricocheting off a cartoon soldier dressed in the suit, field tests have so far found soldiers struggling to run, dive, and shoot when using the real thing.”
• Tweeting at Terrorists: $3 million – The State Department is aiming to fight terrorists in ISIS and al-Qaeda online as well as on the battlefield. Its new program is intended to “counter the sophisticated propaganda machines of terrorist groups around the globe.” However, their Twitter campaign, “Think Again, Turn Away” has been almost universally panned as not only ineffective but also counter-productive.
“A recent commentator in Time Magazine put it more bluntly, saying, ‘this outreach by the U.S. government is not only ineffective, but also provides jihadists with a stage to voice their arguments…’”
• Predicting the End of Humanity: $30,000 – As opposed to finding new ways to explore the solar system, NASA is instead spending its budget on a study to predict how the world will end. Researchers from the University of Maryland and Minnesota came back with an intriguing and politically advantageous answer: Income inequality. They warned that an “unequal distribution of wealth” has “led to civilizational collapse.”
• Funding Kids Dressing Like Fruits and Vegetables: $5 million – Another wasteful project also caught by CNSNews.com. The University of Tennessee used $5 million of taxpayer money allowing student to dress up like fruits and veggies in an attempt to promote healthy eating habits. “Students created the term ‘fruved’ to describe ‘the process of eating FRUits and VEgetables.’”
“The students are divided into five teams – amusingly labeled Spinach, Carrot, Banana, Grapes, and Tomato – which are led by costumed mascots.”
• Help Parents Counter Kids’ Refusals to Eat Fruits and Veggies: $804,254 – In an attempt to aid parents across America whose kids have refused to eat their greens, the NIH has funded a Smartphone game called “Kiddio: Food Fight.” The game is supposed to help parents counter sophisticated childhood rebuttals like “Yuk!”
“Parents will select a vegetable to offer Kiddio and then select a tactic for influencing Kiddio to eat the veggie.”
• Lost electronic devices from NASA: $1.1 million – It seems thousands of agency provided electronics are lost in space. NASA hasn’t kept track of the thousands of Smartphones, tablets, and AirCards they’ve provided their employees. At the same time, “Over 2,000 devices – 14 percent of the total owned by the agency– went unused for at least 7 months from 2013-2014.” On the agency’s list of lost items, they’ve listed “laptops, video tapes, and moon rocks.”
• Studying if Wikipedia is Sexist: $202,000 – The NSF sent nearly a quarter of a million dollars to NYU and Yale researchers to study if any gender bias existed on the website Wikipedia. Because Wikipedia can be edited by almost anyone, the study followed “accusations of sexism in content and among contributors at Wikipedia.” One example of sexism uncovered by researchers was quite the bombshell:
Wikipedia contributors were biased because they had characterized some female novelists as “American Female Novelists” on Wikipedia, rather than “American Novelists.”
• Asking heavy drinkers not to drink through text message: $194,090 – Researchers plan to use this swath of taxpayer money to conduct a study wherein they text “heavy drinkers,” warn them not to drink, and monitor whether they do in fact get drunk.
“For example, some study subjects will get a daily 3 P.M. text message reminding them of the consequences of heavy drinking.”
• Government Funded Ice Cream: $1.2 million – The USDA is paying dairy farmers to produce ice cream and many other dairy confections:
“In Wisconsin and New York, a farmer cooperative and creamery received a grant to expand production and marketing of organic Greek yogurt. A Missouri farm will be using a grant it received also to produce yogurt, but from sheep’s milk. A farm in Pennsylvania received a grant as well to expand its yogurt business but will use some of the money to build its Mexican chocolate business.”
No need to wonder why our country’s deficit has exceeded 18 trillion with no signs of slowing.
Photos courtesy of Google