Senator's report points out examples of ridiculous projects funded by taxpayer money.
No one wants to pay taxes to the government; in fact, some groups call any form of taxation theft. Others argue that taxation is necessary for the health and safety of the nation’s citizens and provides for the country’s infrastructure, building roads, bridges and necessary transportation hubs, such as airports and train stations.
Almost everybody agrees that police and fire protection are essential to public safety, though one could argue a private sector firm could provide a more efficient product. It certainly seems any program that is overseen by government agencies eventually is beset by cost overruns and budget shortfalls, and most lead to a bloated bureaucracy to ride herd on wasteful spending.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released a report on government spending in January of this year, and his findings, after pouring over reams of data about financing of projects approved and at least partially funded by federal and state agencies, highlight some of the more bizarre, if not almost criminal, uses of taxpayer money.
His report is some 200+ pages long and can be found here, if you would like some weekend light reading, but here are some uses of our hard-earned taxpayer monies that are quite interesting.
In return for a total of $450,000 from three grants from the National Science Foundation, researchers have determined “dinosaurs do not appear to have had the vocal structures necessary to produce singing sounds.” The lead author on the study called the discovery “another important step to figuring out what dinosaurs sounded like.”
Supported by a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to the Georgia Tech Research Corporation, researchers examined over 1.1 million photos on Instagram to determine the way to make your social media sites more popular; don’t overdo your postings, use faces in your photos, and have lots of followers. The DARPA says the program is part of an initiative “to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”
Researchers from West Virginia University, with funding from a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the tune of over $3.5 million, discovered the root cause (pun intended) of fear of the dentist is the fear of pain.
Experiments conducted at the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services’ National Wildlife Research Center in Ohio were attempting to determine the speed at which an automobile must be traveling to hit a bird on the highway before it can fly to safety. The experiments included driving a 2003 Ford F-250 pickup directly at vultures feeding on a weighted-down raccoon carcass on the road. At the time of the report, almost $118,000 had been spent on the project.
Per researchers at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, a program there, aided by three separate grants from the National Science Foundation totaling over $1.3 million, has determined that cats and dogs use different ways of lapping to drink fluids. Before the study, the researchers say they had guessed the animals drank about the same way.
The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. And while these numbers total to a lot of wasted taxpayer money, all of this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the $19 trillion debt the country is now facing. But you must start somewhere.
Growing the economy and increasing revenues won’t stem the tide if our elected officials don’t begin a program of fiscal responsibility, and begin to reduce the debt, which is costing taxpayers almost $300 billion each year in interest.
Stopping that payment could free up a lot of other funds for worthwhile projects, like the $5 million grant from the NIH that found frat brothers drink, smoke and generally party more than other college students. And, by the way, they sleep later as well.