Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released his first “government wastebook” today, which he aptly titled, “The Farce Awakens.” Outlining the egregious misuses of taxpayer dollars in fiscal year 2015, the document reaches two-hundred-eighty-four pages and includes quite an array of expenditures that are sure to evoke laughter, tears, frustration, and amazement. Here are ten of the most wasteful spending projects documented by Senator Flake’s report:
1. Monkeys on a Treadmill – $1 million
Your government sent $1 million to the National Institutes of Health in Texas and Maryland to teach monkeys how to run on treadmills. Twelve monkeys were placed into “transparent rodent exercise balls” and slowly taught to run on the treadmill. But wait, there’s action! One monkey vomited, and three others defecated in their exercise balls.
You may proceed to thanking your government for making this pressing information available at your expense.
2. Hipster Parties – $5 million
The National Institute of Health in California dished out $5 million to the “Help a Hipster” movement (how am I just now hearing about this?) to help them throw groovy parties with indie rock bands. The movement is aimed at encouraging hipsters to “take a stand” against tobacco corporations and stop smoking– and paid those hipsters for joining the movement.
Why, you may ask, is a special effort being made for hipsters? Well… “hipsters are an unusual subculture.”
3. Sheep in Microgravity – $1.2 million
NASA is spending $1.2 million to study the effects of microgravity on sheep. A brace was attached to the back leg of twenty-three sheep, which prevented that leg from bearing any weight, simulating the effects of microgravity. After three weeks, veterinarians surgically removed part of the bone in that sheep’s leg and then reattached the brace to monitor the healing process while the leg was still suspended in microgravity.
Hey, maybe the cow that jumped over the moon is getting close to retirement? Bedtime stories of counting sheep were just too boring without this galactic gravity component.
4. Wine Classes for Minors – $853,000
The National Science Foundation in Washington state granted almost a million dollars to a community college with the goal of training underage students to make wine. The money will fund a program that allows students to work in vineyards and learn the wine-making process, and also encourages these underage students to “taste wine” while they are enrolled in the program.
Watch for the flood of students suddenly transferring to the northwestern gold mine.
5. Jazz-Playing Robots – $2 million
The Department of Defense shelled out $2 million to study effective methods of teaching robots to play instruments. GUYS… need I say more?
6. Love at First Swipe – $851,500
Do you believe in love at first swipe on Tinder? That’s the question the National Science Foundation is seeking to answer. Due to the rise in technology and use of online dating, researchers at Wayne State University are observing those who use online dating services to see how technology has affected their chances of finding a mate online.
Can we swipe left on this study being funded with our money?
7. A Perfect Tweet – $2.6 million
RT if you think this is a waste of your hard-earned money. Researchers at the National Science Foundation are spending more than $2 million to determine just what constitutes a “perfect tweet.” The results came up with nine ways to get more traffic for your tweet, like being “informative” with your words and asking others to share what you’ve tweeted.
I’ll take their advice and give it a shot: “The government is wasting your $ to teach you how to Internet. Plz RT.”
8. Ultimate Tailgating – $5 million
One hundred tailgating fans at the Nebraska Huskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers game were given “tailgating packages” courtesy of the Department of Agriculture. These packages included koozies, aprons, meat thermometers… and even a “Griller Profile Card” so you can tell your friends just what type of griller you identify as.
9. Robot Lobby Greeter – $2.5 million
If you attend the University of Central Florida, you may have encountered a robot serving as a “lobby greeter” on campus this year. The robot was placed there by the Office of Naval Research to study how humans interact with robots. The robot interacted with patrons and was operated by a human in a different location.
10. “Suspicious” Bar Coasters – $2.5 million
The Department of Homeland Security spent more than $2 million to produce and distribute coasters at some bars in the D.C. area. The coasters contain the message, “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.” At first this seems like a worthy effort to stop the occasional purse-snatcher, but this is hardly a job for DHS to be taking on while we have planned terrorist attacks occurring within our country.
Bonus fail: These coasters didn’t even include a phone number where that one-in-a-million coaster-reading patron could report a problem.
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I hope you got as much laughter out of that list as I did. Our government may not be able to properly screen immigrants or refrain from interfering in private business, but hey–thanks to them, maybe you can find love at first swipe at a hipster party over the robotic band or the epic-fail coaster under your undergrad-produced wine cooler.
Did other wasteful projects in the report strike you as particularly stupid? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!