Gambling monkeys, watching grass grow: Tom Coburn releases 2014 Government Wastebook

Gambling monkeys, watching grass grow: Tom Coburn releases 2014 Government Wastebook

Do you remember all those Democratic chargers that GOP budget cuts killed any chance of an Ebola vaccine? The NIH was spending money on other priorities such as Swedish massages for rabbits ($387,000), a study on whether moms love their dogs as much as their kids ($371,000), and another what do Buddhist texts say about meditation ($533,000). These and other examples of stupid government spending are outlined in outgoing Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s final Government Wastebook. This swan song installment (Coburn is retiring at the end of 2014) highlights $25 billion in Washington’s worst spending of the year.

Calling it the report Washington doesn’t want you to read, Wastebook 2014 reveals the hundred most outlandish government expenditures this year. Said Coburn:

With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing. Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects.

Some of my personal favorites include:

Mountain Lions on a Treadmill ($856,000): Remember those tiny shrimp on a treadmill? Same type of experiment but super-sized. In this study funded with an National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, three captive mountain lions were taught to use a treadmill. It took eight months of training before the cats were “comfortable on the treadmill.” Man! It took me only 10 minutes to teach my dog to go on a treadmill.

What Makes a Person Stab a Voodoo Doll of Their Spouse ($331,000): The feeling of anger caused by hunger is so well-known that pop culture has given the feelings their own name: hanger. Armed with voodoo dolls and chalkboard noises, federally funded researchers wanted to prove a hangry spouse is also an unhappy one. Was there a difference in genders? If so — I bet the husbands asked their wives for permission before they attacked the doll.

A Study of Gambling Monkeys ($171,000): It turns out humans are not the only species looking for “Big money, no whammies!” Monkeys also like to play video games and gamble, found an ongoing study supported by the NSF. But can you imagine all the monkey lives they destroyed by creating monkey gambling addicts?

Watching Grass Grow ($10,000): The federal government is literally paying people to watch grass grow. While the grass being observed, saltmarsh cordgrass is “a fast-growing plant,”211 it can reach a length of 6 inches to as high as 7 feet tall. Wow! About as exciting as watching grass grow, er watching poker on TV.

“Zombies in Love” A Musical For Kids ($10,000): While most zombies want to eat your brains, there’s one that wants to steal your heart. His story is told in a taxpayer-funded stage production about the ups-and-downs of a lovesick zombie who can’t find a date in the land of the living. Personally I preferred “Guys and Dolls.”

Teaching Sea Monkeys to Synchronize Swim ($307,000): Sea monkeys can be trained because they follow light. With the financial support of three government agencies, researchers put these claims to the test and essentially choreographed a laser guided swim team of sea monkeys. An event in the next summer Olympics?

There is so much more in this report such as paying $77 nillion to ship soda to Alaska, $15 million to change an abandoned mall in Pennsylvania to a Hollywood-quality film studio and the DEA spending $95,000 to build a DEA museum.

The report can be read here.

Cross-posted at The Lid

Jeff Dunetz

Jeff Dunetz

Jeff Dunetz is editor and publisher of the The Lid, and a weekly political columnist for the Jewish Star and TruthRevolt. He has also contributed to, HotAir, and PJ Media’s Tattler.


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