Ever wondered what happens to that massive chunk of your paycheck that the government claims for personal use, or that fat-ass sales tax that goes straight to Uncle Sam when you purchase a pair of ass-less riding chaps? Well, as it turns out, a significant portion of your hard-earned and not-very-well-spent money goes to a smattering of truly insane places … places which Senator Tom Coburn (R. Oklahoma) has outlined in his annual Wastebook 2014 for us all to enjoy!
Ever wondered what happens to that massive chunk of your paycheck that the government claims for personal use, or that fat-ass sales tax that goes straight to Uncle Sam when you purchase a pair of crotchless pleather riding chaps? Well, as it turns out, a significant portion of your hard-earned and not-very-well-spent money goes to a smattering of truly insane places … places which Senator Tom Coburn (R. Oklahoma) has outlined in his annual Wastebook 2014 for us all to enjoy!
Coburn's Wastebooks outline 100 of what he considers to be the most egregious abuse of government funding during the last year. For his latest trick, he's created a bewildering list of low-priority spending that totaled up to nearly $25 billion in "wasted" tax money. God damn it, you guys. We needed that money to like … eat and not die and stuff.
"Only someone with too much of someone else's money and not enough accountability for how it's being spent could come up with some of these projects," he said of his Wastebook ventures.
1. Providing benefits to the Fort Hood shooter
While the families of the survivors and victims are still fighting to receive military compensation for the massive emotional trauma caused by Fort Hood shooter Major Nadal Hasan, he's cashing his government paycheck. Since the shooting, the murderous Major has received over $278,000 in military benefits, due to the small detail that the Military Code of Justice won't allow a soldier to be suspended and cut off from cash flow until they are officially found guilty. So … we're so glad we could buy you dinner tonight, Mr. Hasan.
2. Swedish massage for bunnies
This two-year project at Ohio State University aimed to determine the effects of light massage on fatigued muscles. To study that, researchers stuck rabbits on treadmills, where they worked off their love handles for a few hours. When they were done with their exercise, they were treated to a relaxing and soul-soothing Swedish massage to test its restorative effects. Word's still out on just how relaxed those bunnies got, but we know one thing: we were going to use that bunny massage money to buy a jet ski, and now we have no jet ski, and therefore we have no life. Now we need a massage.
3. Helping the State Department buy Facebook fans
When you're the State Department, it's really hard to get a lot of "Likes" on your Facebook page, primarily because everyone hates you. That's probably why the State Department dropped $630K on buying fans to present the facade of popularity. And while their expenditures earned them a very unrealistic 2.5 million drone fans, these fans engaged minimally with the State Department's Facebook page (no, really?). On each of its four Facebook pages, less than 2% of fans interacted with posts, and the most common comment they received was "so nice pic." Great job!
4. A very important study that found that angry wives should calm down
Sometimes things are so obvious that you need to drop hundreds of thousands of dollars to confirm their validity, like the fact that angry people should calm down when fighting to avoid unhappiness.
In particular, this government-funded study found that angry wives would "find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands." Uh, well, in a related note, husbands would find that their balls were still intact if they avoided sharing this study result with their angry wives.
5. NASA figuring out how Congress works
Although learning the ins and outs of Congressional proceedings is part of the lesson plan of school-aged children nationwide, Congress thought it would be cool to see if someone a little more knowledgeable could figure them out: NASA. And so, instead of exploring a distant galaxy or alien life, one of NASA's next research missions will be spending $3 million to study this "Congress" thing and determine its functioning. We repeat … Congress is paying them to do this.
That's like paying a therapist to tell you you have daddy issues when you have the phrase "Daddy Issues" tattooed right above your FUPA.
6. A pretty princess butterfly farm
This grant was given to a Native American reservation for a program in which people could cultivate then sell butterflies to stimulate the local economy … but so far, only 50 of the 845 tribe members have signed up. That's actually not a bad showing for a butterfly-related activity, but you just don't get the same unconditional love or longevity as from a butterfly you do from a puppy, you know?
7. Teaching sea monkeys synchronized swimming
This study looked at the effect of sea monkey's swimming patterns on water movement.
Okay then. Moving on.
8. Putting mountain lions on treadmills
The National Science Foundation was interested in studying the movement of mountain lions, so they were awarded a big honkin' government grant to do so. This involved putting mountain lions on treadmills for, oh, about eight months until the freaky beasts were "comfortable" enough to finally be studied. And then, they were studied. And the world kept turning.
9. Watching grass grow
The Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needed some flow to study the growth of cordgrass at the Guana Tolomato National Estuarine Research Reserve in Florida. Cordgrass is vital to swamp growth, and we all know that if there's anything Florida needs more of, it's definitely swamps. We mean, where else are you supposed to hide the body? Excitingly, the project will culminate with a "guide on the best practices for cultivating cordgrass." Sweet!
10. Renovating Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
The Small Business Administration doled out over a million big ones in surety bonds to make Disney's Polynesian Village prettier, because there's nothing weighing on our national conscious more than the pristine sanctity and supreme attractiveness of the Polynesian Village at Disney World. Syria who?
11. Studying "hangry" spouses stabbing voodoo dolls
For three weeks straight, 107 couples were given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stick up to 51 pins into a voodoo doll resembling their spouse to observe the effect of low blood sugar, or "hanger," on mood. The results? Spouses who were hungry and had low blood sugar were angrier than those who were full, and stabbed the voodoo dolls more times with more pins on average. Oh yeah, and the sky is blue. Thanks.
12. Tweeting at terrorists
The State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) is tasked with maintaining an official online presence of the U.S. government on Facebook and Twitter … not so they can stalk their exes, but so they can "counter the sophisticated propaganda machines of terrorist groups around the globe." This year, a portion of the $3 million taxpayers gave to CSCC was used to create the Think Again Turn Away Twitter account, which currently has 12.4K followers.
Apparently, Think Again Turn Away provides a counter to the tweets of “extremists [who] were previously able to spread their bile without fear of pushback.” Every Tweet sent out by the CSCC is supposed to "redirect the conversation" and let extremists know that "when they try to spread their message, they will encounter resistance.”
13. Figuring out whether your mom loves your dog as much as she loves you
Hint: she does. She really, really does. According to this government-funded research published this year, mothers have the same reaction looking at their dogs as they do with their kids … at least the less fortunate looking kids.
So, there's all that.
Interestingly enough, most of the funding flops Coburn identified have to do with research in the biological and ecological sciences. He doesn't seem to be too fond of wildlife conservation or ecosystem preservation, but thankfully, Congress obviously is or they wouldn't be making it rain on sea monkeys and rabbit relaxation efforts. Whether or not you think funding in those areas is necessary is obviously up to you, but we prefer it to funding things like anti-marijuana advocacy or the military, which currently receives 55% of government funds. By contrast, American food and agriculture only gets 1%.
… But, there's one place the government made great use of taxpayer money: the Colorado marijuana symphony. The State of Colorado generously awarded the Colorado Symphony Orchestra $15,000 to put together a series of classical concerts to which you could bring and smoke as much of your own weed as your little heart desired. We can get behind that.
Now if they could only front us some cash to figure out a Halloween costume that isn't Richard Simmons or a sexy Ebola nurse …