Feb122018

Wastebook: PORKemon Go

by Lou Binninger

When you hear bureaucrats and politicians squeal like stuck pigs about the Trump Administration cutting the size of government you may think the nation is collapsing. These people think they and their ideas are indispensable.

It was a thrill to hear federal employees threaten that up to 25% of them would quit if Trump was elected. It is even better to see some keep those promises. Those leaving and even trash talking on their way out is a sweet sound.

Trump recently authorized millions of dollars to do an audit of military spending. People gasped at the expense. However, the law mandates an annual audit that no one has been doing. It is one thing to honor the military and properly fund it, but being a watchdog for the taxpayers is new for Washington.

A few politicians have weak stomachs. The waste in Washington makes them sick. Oklahoma medical doctor and Senator Tom Coburn was so put-out he created ‘The Waste Book’ annually highlighting some of the most bizarre and embarrassing uses of money forcefully taken from hard-working Americans.

Coburn retired from office in January 2014. Since then, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has taken on the cause of waste to produce Wastebook: PORKemon Go that lists the top 200 shameful examples. Here are a few.

Liquor stores have taken advantage of a Department of Agriculture program to support rural businesses’ effort to install energy efficient lighting.

The section, titled “Getting Lit at the Liquor Store,” complains that the $5,000 grant to a store called Newberry Liquors, in Newberry, Florida, went to an establishment that, “In addition to liquor, wine, and beer ... also serves cigarettes and tobacco products.” Actually many rural liquor stores and other businesses and farms cashed in on the Rural Energy for America Program. Why do some businesses get welfare and not others? Good question.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry was given a $150,000 federal grant to develop “earthquake-proof gingerbread houses.” Then, there is the “Spaceport to Nowhere” ($80.4 million). The Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska (PSCA) was founded in 1996 with an $18 million earmark. It has been seldom used since its founding and is now in disrepair as a result of a 2014 failed launch. Last year, the Missile Defense Agency awarded a “sole source” contract for up to $80.4 million to keep the base open.

The Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation paid $460,000 for a study in which computers binge-watched 600 hours of “Desperate Housewives,” “The Office,” and other TV shows and online videos in order to train computers to predict human behavior.

Researchers at the University of California-San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography received $1.5 million to study how well mudskippers, a fish that can survive long amounts of time out of water and can walk with its front flippers, could walk on a treadmill. More National Science monies ($450,000) went for research to determine if dinosaurs could sing.

The National Eye Institute spent $300,000 of public funds to study boys and girls playing with Barbie dolls. “Researchers were literally playing with dolls to prove what every child already knows — girls are more likely to play with Barbie dolls than boys,” Flake’s report stated.

National Institutes of Health spent $230,000 to discover that the color red makes female monkeys get hot and bothered for male monkeys. A study found female rhesus macaques spent more time checking out the hindquarters of male monkeys presented in front of a red colored background.

The colonies got in a war over paying taxes on tea but now business gets subsidies for tea and distilled spirits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department spent $850,000 in subsidies for tea and whiskey product development.

How about $2.4 million to determine how to be more popular online? The IRS spent $12 million on an email archiving service that it could not and did not use. Or, how about $74 million for a program that allows taxpayer-backed loans to be repaid with peanuts?

You get the idea and can study the entire book online. When you hear politicians say they can’t cut another dime just touch mute. It’s called the swamp and needs drained badly.

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