Earlier I gave the first ten a list I found some time ago, of 20 of the craziest things the US Government spent money on. I’m sure there’s been another list since then. In tribute to the way the federal government operates, I used that list’s numbering system, in which 1-10 were the bottom of the list, and 11-20 are the top of the list, with 20 being 1. Doesn’t that sound like a government operation?
I believe we stopped halfway through, which brings me to one that’s a bit iffy in my mind:
#11: The feds gave The Conservation Commission of Monkton, Vermont $150,000 to construct a special “critter crossing” that allows thousands of salamanders to migrate past obstacles.
I need some details on this one. I mean, I don’t want salamanders to die out. If they’re endangered, a few efforts to keep them –
Um … they’re not endangered? Well … do they taste like chicken? Or maybe we could spend a thousand bucks to bore one little salamander sized tunnel under the highway. And a sign to direct them there.
#12: A park received $440,000 federal dollars (remember, “federal dollars” is code for your money) to perform green energy upgrades – on a building that sat completely unused for a decade. This was in California; you knew California would pop up in here.
#13: A rarely used office had a budget of $440,955.
How’s your office budget? That one belongs to former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, but he apparently only showed up once a month to shovel a dump truck load of cash into it.
#14: A Tennessee library was given $5,000 in federal funds. That’s not really much, unless you multiply it by every library in the country. Even then, libraries are one of the last places I’d take money from – unless the money was going toward video game parties. Which it was.
#15: The U.S. Census Bureau produced a television commercial to air during the Super Bowl; it cost them two and a half million dollars.
In the pantheon of interesting and controversial Super Bowl commercials, this one stood out. Unfortunately, it stood out because it was so poorly produced that hardly anyone understood what it was about.
Oh! That commercial! I remember that one. So it was for the Census, huh?
#16: A Dartmouth University professor – hey, there are those crazy professors again! – got $137,530 to create a video game. The game is called “Layoff”, and features a recession theme.
I thought video games were to escape from reality?
#17: On a related note, the Minnesota Zoo got $600,000 to develop an online video game called “Wolfquest”. This came from the National Science Foundation, which then gave itself half a million dollars to study why they did this.
#18: A pizza place in Iowa was given $60,000 to renovate its façade, in order to give it a “more inviting feel”.
Now, I support this idea in theory. My home town has given small grants to improve facades, as a neighborhood improvement kind of thing, and I think it really does make a difference when a block of businesses get spruced up and attract more customers. But $60,000? For one façade? Given by a government that’s been running in the red for years? It’s like trying to fix a small problem by hanging multiple unrelated projects on a huge, bloated spending bill. Thank goodness the feds don’t do that.
You know what invites me to a pizza place? Pizza.
#19: The US Department of Agriculture gave a group of farmers $30,000 –
Wait, that’s not much. Who do we need more, and who works harder, than farmers? Then again, this money was to develop a database of farms that would host guests, to give tourists what are being called overnight “haycations”. It’s like a bed and breakfast, with allergies.
I kinda like the idea. We can’t afford it.
Before I get to the last one, let’s keep in mind that our elected representatives don’t seem to understand why their approval rating hovers in the low teens. We’re facing a time in this country in which, realistically, we not only need to cut wasteful bullcrap (there’s probably some taxpayer funded study of bullcrap, which they could study without leaving Washington). No, we need to cut spending even on stuff that’s arguably good and useful. That’s how bad things are. In order just to pay our outstanding bills, the United State government borrowed 666 billion dollars last year. There’s a number that should get your attention.
#20: So now, the top of the list, the big number one or, in Federal-speak, the #20 that’s number one, thus making everything backward:
The National Institutes of Health received $800,000 in tax money, taken from American workers, to study the impact of a genital-washing program on South African men.
Okay, let me say that again: $800,000 of taxpayer money to study how well men in another country wash their private parts.
Kinda makes you proud to be a cog in this great bureaucracy, doesn’t it? And whether it does or not, you’re still a screw in the machine – and the feds are holding the screwdriver.