How the Government Wastes Your Tax Dollars
Liberals say they don’t have enough money to fix everyone’s problems. Maybe that’s because the government wastes billions on silly projects.
Take the latest report from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), for example. According to the foundation’s record of grants and awards, the NEH is spending $6,000 on the history of French lesbians. University of Illinois Associate Professor Tamara Chaplin received the summer stipend for her project “Postwar French Media and the Struggle for Gay Rights.” (Source: “National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Awards and Offers,” National Endowment for the Humanities, March 2016.)
No, this is not a joke.
“NEH grants bring the humanities to life for Americans by helping preserve valuable cultural resources, advancing research, and supporting films and exhibitions that communicate the lessons of history and culture to new audiences,” NEH Chairman William D. Adams said in a press release. “We are pleased to announce our support for these 248 exceptional research, educational, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.” (Source: “NEH Announces $21.1 Million for 248 Humanities Projects,” National Endowment for the Humanities, March 23, 2016.)
Some of these “exceptional” programs include studying “conflict graffiti in Detroit” ($6,000), “questions about neighborliness” ($20,000), and “the meaning of work and leisure” ($20,000).
Your tax dollars hard at work.
Sadly, this is just the first car of a long gravy train. Last year, the federal government collected nearly $2.7 trillion in taxes. A large percentage of that money, however, is not spent so wisely. (Source: “U.S. tax revenues at record high. Who’s paying?” CNN Money, August 14, 2015.)
Thankfully, Republican Senator Jeff Flake has lifted the veil on government waste. In an annual report titled “Wastebook,” Flake highlights the many ways politicians blow your hard-earned cash. The following are seven amusing items from this year’s report. (Source: “Wastebook: The Farce Awakens,” Jeff Flake, December 2015.)
1. $5.0 Million on Hipster Parties
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent more than $5.0 million to fund the “Help A Hipster” movement.
The project organizes parties at bars and nightclubs, inviting hipsters to “take a stand against tobacco corporations.” These events feature DJs, local artists, indie rock bands, and other activities.
If the party isn’t enough to convince you to quit smoking, attendees are eligible to receive a “hipsters’ ‘stache.” “Quit smoking, get cash” offers a $100.00 payoff to hipsters who stop smoking.
2. $780,000 to Study Pizza Addiction
Is pizza as addictive as crack cocaine?
Probably not, according to a study of college students supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Last year, the NIDA surveyed more than 100 college students at the University of Michigan. Participants were quizzed to see if they had developed a tolerance to a variety of foods associated with addictive-like qualities.
The study found cucumbers were the least addictive of the choices. Pizza, though not addictive, was found to be popular with those surveyed. Researchers spent more than $780,000 to determine something anyone with a college education already knew.
3. $707,000 on Shrimp Fights
The first rule of shrimp fight club is that you don’t talk about shrimp fight club.
Duke University graduate students pitted 68 Panamanian mantis shrimps in contests to fight over an artificial burrow. The tournament was organized in a March Madness bracket style. Winners were determined as the individual residing in the burrow after the other made a clear retreat toward the edge of the arena.
The effort was paid for as part of a $706,800 grant from the National Science Foundation. Additional support was provided through the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute.
4. $60.0 Million on Slogan
Washington is known for pork-barrel spending, but I’ll bet the farm you didn’t see this coming.
The goal of the National Pork Board is to boost pork consumption nationwide. In its advertising efforts, the board has licensed the rights to the slogan “The Other White Meat” from The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). As part of a deal signed in 2006, the board agreed to pay $3.0 million annually over 20 years to the private lobby group.
Here’s the problem: the slogan was retired in 2011. The board, however, continues to make the annual payment to the pork lobby. This continues even in spite of the fact that the board has the right to cancel the deal with one year’s notice.
5. $1.1 Billion on Tobacco Subsidies
Smoking is the leading cause of death in America. Yet despite the obvious health problems, your tax dollars continue to subsidize tobacco farmers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent $1.1 billion over the past two years to support the tobacco industry. Most of this was spent on direct payments to tobacco growers in 2014.
At the same time, the government spends billions every year to discourage smoking. Since 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has spent about $230 million on national anti-smoking ads. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration launched its own $230 million anti-smoking campaign. All of this pales in comparison to the $90.0 billion the federal government spends each year treating smoking related illnesses.
6. $43.0 Million on a Gas Station
Last year, the Pentagon spent nearly $43.0 million gas station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan. As if the price tag isn’t bad enough, the station only dispenses compressed natural gas (CNG). Unfortunately, few vehicles in the country run on CNG.
The goal of the project was to promote the use of clean energy in the war-torn nation. However, a review of the project found no evidence the gas station increased the number of CNG-powered vehicles in Afghanistan. Pentagon officials say this was probably due to the $800.00 cost to convert a gasoline-powered car to CNG.
The annual income for an average Afghan, though, is only $690.00.
7. $210,000 for Luxury Dog Apparel
The Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD) is looking out for fashion-conscious dogs everywhere.
Maine Stitching Specialties, which produces “Dog Not Gone” pet products, received a $210,000 grant that will be spent “for more equipment and working capital for a logistics person to do preproduction and cutting work, as well as hiring a marketing and sales manager.”
According to its web site, the company’s dog vests are “considered by many dog owners to be the finest product available today. The exclusive double Velcro closure, extremely durable components, double stitching and American craftsmanship ensure lasting performance under the toughest conditions.” (Source: “Dog Vests,” Dogs Not Gone, last accessed March 28, 2016.)