Reading through the Wastebook 2012 summary sheet, you just can’t make this stuff up! As Will Rogers once said,
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
Here are some funny doozies from the list (although the joke is on We the Taxpayers, and that’s not very funny):
• Relive prom week with National Science Foundation video game – (CA) $516,000 — Using an NSF grant, researchers created a computer game simulating a high school “Prom Night” and the week leading up to the night.
• Tune in to reruns and feel better – (NY) $666,905 — An NIH-funded study found people’s moods are improved by watching television reruns, or even writing about them, but cautions too much TV can harm health.
• Should grandma and grandpa play World of Warcraft? – (NC) $1.2 million — Researchers study whether the elderly could play World of Warcraft to increase their cognitive function. They used NSF funding.
• Pet shampoo company fetches more than half a million dollars – (NE) $505,000 — HUD money goes to a pet shampoo company for machinery to make pet toothpaste and shampoo.
• Government-funded study finds golfers need to envision a bigger hole – (IN) $350,000 — NSF funds go to a study of how golfers can putt better if they envision the hole is bigger.
• Flushing down taxpayer dollars – (MI) $10,000 — Dept. of Transportation dollars are used in Michigan to buy 400 talking urinal cakes to fight drunk driving.
• Heavy drinking in thirties linked with immaturity – (MO) $548,731 — An NIH-funded study found people who drink heavily in their 30s feel immature.
• Science research dollars go to musical about biodiversity and climate change – (NY) $445,444 — NSF funds spent on a musical about biodiversity and climate change. Reviews of the play said it was boring.
• Sidewalks to nowhere anger local citizens – (FL; MI) $1.1 million – In Michigan, federal requirements forced a county to make sidewalk ramps at an intersection without sidewalks.
• How not to flip a house: renovate with federal funds and sell far below market value – (NY) $18,410 — HUD funds used to renovate a home for more than the house was worth, through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
• Medicaid audit program costs more than it brings in – (Medicaid) $30 million — A program to audit Medicaid payments is actually costing taxpayers more than it recovers, because federal officials decided to use incomplete data for audits.
• So you think you can dance? Dancing robot serves as an iPhone DJ – (GA) $547,430 — Using an NSF grant, researchers create a mini-robot that can dance to music from a smartphone. They are looking to sell the robot for about $200 each.
• Exploring the nature of happiness with a philosophy booth – (NM) $24,995 – A National Endowment for the Humanities grant will fund a college class about happiness, during which students will set up a “philosophy booth” on campus.
• Mobile app industry gets a free download – (UT) $1 million — Ogden City, Utah, received $1 million from the Department of Commerce to teach people how to develop mobile phone apps.
• D’oh! Postal Service overprints Simpsons and other commemorative stamps – (Postal Service) $2 million — The Postal Service overproduces commemorative stamps every year, a $2 million waste in printing and distribution costs. In 2009, it printed 1 billion commemorative Simpsons stamps, and sold only 318 million.
In the WHO IS JOHN GALT? category (read Atlas Shrugged and see new movie) re mooching companies living off the government dole instead of earning their own money:
• Vodka, bourbon, brandy for taxpayers – (NY) $99,000 — USDA gives grant to New York distillery, and competitor says he will not be able to compete.
• Bailed out tourist boat sinking private business – (AK) $3.3 million — Dept. of Transportation gave an Alaskan tribe millions to start a ferry that competes with existing private ferries, who are now struggling severely.
• Flat tire: Agriculture Department awards grant to billion-dollar tire company – (OH) $6.9 million — USDA awarded a grant to Cooper Tire to develop a next-generation tire, though private sector research is already underway.
• Professional sports loophole – (Taxes) $91 million — The NFL, NHL, and PGA all classify themselves as non-profit organizations. Taxpayers may be losing at least $89.9 million subsidizing these tax loopholes for professional sports leagues that generate billions of dollars annually in profits.
• Potato chip pork – (NY) $49,990 — USDA gives grant to famed New York potato chip manufacturer to make a website and print brochures.
• Department of Energy offered cash reward to create app that already exists – (Department of Energy) $100,000 — The Department of Energy funded a contest to develop an energy-tracking mobile phone app, even though they already exist on the market.
• No laughing matter, cartoon school receives real taxpayer money – (VT) $255,000 — A cartooning school in Vermont received HUD funds to build a new center, though it has very few students and is unaccredited.