The 10 Dumbest Ways the Government Wastes Taxpayer Money

As you can tell from my "CEO Gaffe of the Week" series, I enjoy pointing out when the leaders of publicly traded corporations are overpaid or seriously abuse company funds. If these egregious errors aren't pointed out, the possibility for reform will never be a reality.

It's for this reason that Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is my favorite political figure on Capitol Hill. For each of the past two years, Coburn and his political team have put together a manifesto that they refer to as "Wastebook 2011" (link opens PDF file), which compiles the top 100 ways that the U.S. government wastes taxpayer money. If you've never had a chance to peruse this list before, I highly recommend it.

Today, I want to highlight what I regard as the 10 dumbest ways the U.S. government wasted your money in 2011 based on Coburn's findings.

1. Change for a dollar
With so much noise being made about how a penny costs more to produce than it's worth, we often forget that while paper money is cheaper to produce, coins tend to last longer. According to the Government Accountability Office, if the U.S. were to switch to $1 coins instead of printing $1 bills, as so many other nations already have, it would save $5.5 billion over 30 years, or $184 million annually.

2. Feces-flinging chimpanzees
William Hopkins, at Agnes Scott College, and researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center utilized a portion of $592,527 in federal funding last year to discover the origins behind chimpanzees and their desire to throw food and feces at passersby. After taking MRIs and performing multiple cognitive tests on the chimps, researchers determined that chimps with better feces-throwing skills had better communication skills than other apes. Thumbs-up, guys!

3. I tweet, therefore I'm happy?
Apparently, the government is interested in whether your Facebook likes are sincere or merely meant to kill time. In 2011, the University of California-Riverside was awarded a $198,000 grant to research whether social media programs such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) make people happy. Studies from other research institutes have already been released that point to users using social media sites for keeping up with friends and family and to pass time, so I fully expect these results from UC Riverside to be a barn burner.

4. A feel-good report
For this gem, the National Institute on Aging supplied the RAND Institute with $610,908 so that it could survey people throughout 120 countries in order to discover the determinants of life satisfaction and well-being throughout the world. It sounds like a noble effort; unfortunately, Gallup already has a poll that accomplishes more or less the same thing worldwide.

5. Michigan is how desperate?
While $6,279 may not sound like a lot of money considering the egregious abuses of cash we've witnessed over the years, this tidy sum of cash went to purchase 13 snow cone machines in Michigan. The purpose was dual: to counteract heat exhaustion and illnesses during large events, and to be used during Michigan's Citizen Corps events to encourage people to volunteer. Free snow cones? Sign me up!

6. Sonic dud
After costing the U.S. taxpayers a total of $3 billion, including $207 million in 2011 alone, the Pentagon officially canceled efforts by General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) and Rolls-Royce (OTC: RYCEY) to create a second engine for the next-generation fighter plane, the F-35. It took years, but the government succumbed to pressure that running two competing engines against each other was a waste of money -- and boy, they weren't kidding!

7. Tree census
Last year, $60,000 of federal funds was apportioned to conduct a tree census and inventory in the city of Henderson, Nev. According to the Henderson City Council, there are 1,348 acres of "undocumented tree assets" in Henderson and 15,000 trees that have no recorded data other than a GPS location. The goal was to generate a tree maintenance plan. The result is too stupid for words.

8. Social not-working
That's right, not one but two of my top 10 dumbest uses of taxpayer money involve social networking. For just $764,825, Notre Dame University partnered with Dan Hesse of Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) (whom I dubbed one of the worst CEOs of the year in 2011) to give 250 college freshmen phones with a tracking chip that will monitor their various interactions, including proximity to one another. The best part about this study: No reason was given as to how this benefits the public.

9. IRS hand-me-downs
According to the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration, the IRS has 22,486 items in storage (including office furniture and equipment) that have not had any activity in at least 18 months. This storage is costing the U.S. taxpayers $862,000 per year. Clearly the two most pressing questions are (1) Did the TIGTA count each item by hand or should we demand a recount? and (2) Can the IRS claim the depreciation of that office furniture on its taxes? Inquiring minds want to know.

10. I guess Charlie Sheen wasn't available
Last, but certainly not least, researchers at the University of Kentucky received $175,587 last year to research whether cocaine increased risky sexual behavior in Japanese quails. I'll let you recover from laughing for a moment because it gets better. Not only was this the second grant that researchers received (after netting $181,406 from the National Institutes of Health in 2010), but the study is slated to continue through 2015!

Foolish roundup
These are just 10 of the mind-numbing ways the U.S. government has spent taxpayer dollars over the past year according to Sen. Tom Coburn, and this doesn't even include the egregious wastes of money that have been profiled recently -- namely the Secret Service scandal or even Solyndra, which I decided to leave off this list.

Which wasteful program stands out the most to you? Tell me and your fellow Fools in the comments section below.

Regardless of which party takes office next year, there will definitely be challenges. Luckily for you, our analysts have been hard at work identifying stocks that could skyrocket after the election. This new special report is yours for free by simply clicking here and avoiding the tree census.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He has a Ph.D. in sarcasm. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of LinkedIn. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of LinkedIn. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that's just the right price: free!


Read/Post Comments (87) | Recommend This Article (45)

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  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 2:41 PM, Sohrobby wrote:

    To be fair, the chimp study may be related to something tied to human behavior (since we're so closely related to chimps) and in that case it may have very well been a worthwhile study. Can't say for certain without knowing the details though. The rest of the stuff is pretty upsetting though.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 2:44 PM, DSmod wrote:

    If I'm 150lbs overweight with sky-high cholesterol and I go see my doctor, should he spend the whole half-hour appt. convincing me of the benefits of switching my coffee sweetener from sugar to stevia? Coburn's list may be true (and it is certainly an entertaining read), but correcting the wastes it exposes wouldn't even scratch the surface of dealing with our nations fiscal problems. Perhaps number 11 on his list should be his hours spent compiling the list.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 2:46 PM, hiddenflem wrote:

    Kind of a trashy article...it's quite likely that japanese quails are a good animal model for whatever research question was being explored. I hate it when non scientists try to summarize things like this without appreciation of the true research question.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 3:45 PM, TMFNewCow wrote:

    This is awesome.

    -- Evan

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 4:23 PM, Clint35 wrote:

    @hiddenflem What was the true research question? And was it really worth over $181,000 of taxpayer money. It's ok I don't blame scientists for such stupidity. Uncle Sam is the one to blame. Good article Sean.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 4:47 PM, OccupyMyNutsack wrote:

    I love how the previous comments all come to the defense of government spending. Valid studies or not, it is meant to be a funny glimpse at some of the spending of tax dollars. If you want to defend each project, maybe explain to me why it matters at all that the accuracy with which a chimp can sling his turds? Or why it is not obvious and a study is required to discover if cocaine increases the effects of reckless behavior.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 5:02 PM, TMFUltraLong wrote:

    That's exactly the point. I'm not discrediting science so much as I'm emphasizing that there are better ways we could spending taxpayer money than the 10 I highlighted above. Job creation over giving quails cocaine is all I'm saying...

    TMFUltraLong

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 5:10 PM, smartmuffin wrote:

    UL,

    I'm sure the politicians counting the coked-up qualis AS a job creation program. Somebody has to be studying them, right?

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 5:19 PM, OccupyMyNutsack wrote:

    @ smartmuffin

    creating 20 additional research jobs for people already employed at the university does not equal job creation. Keystone pipeline project, thats job creation. I think your recipe for smartmuffins was an ingredient short.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 5:48 PM, Chontichajim wrote:

    On some of the small research projects the cost of micromanaging the grant may be more than the grant itself. I also do not take at face value excerpts from a research project that gets partial federal funding from a highly political source.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 5:49 PM, russty224 wrote:

    What a ridiculous post, I've come to expect better from TMF. Tom Coburn's list is a tour de force in scientific ignorance and misrepresentations, and this list parrots it without qualification. There are high bars that need to be passed to get government money for a study, and the vast majority of them aren't wasteful. Coburn just selects a few that can be spun in a distasteful way. This kind of discussion does nothing to actually actually reduce wasteful spending.

    Besides, the total amount of money on this list (excluding the 3 billion dollar engine) is less than 3 million dollars...or in other words about 0.0001% of the federal budget.

    This war on science by the Republican party is absolutely disgraceful.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:12 PM, xetn wrote:

    I think you overlooked some much more important ones:

    Endless wars that are costing us about $1 trillion per year;

    Endless vote buying by increasing all kinds of social programs such as extending unemployment to the point that unemployment lasts much longer;

    Creating unnecessary regulations (40000 new ones on Jan1).

    Those are just some of the worst (my opinion).

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:29 PM, chop701 wrote:

    At a government agency I worked for - for no apparent reason - suddenly it was decided that everyone holding a certain job needed a step increase (which of course entailed extra pay). Then I figured it out. The people making this decision then, in turn had to be promoted. In fact, they had to put extra layers of bureacracy in to manage all of these (hundreds) higher-level employees they just created.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:31 PM, SolarInvestor wrote:

    Scientific studies are important, and many don't lead to anything. Someone asked why we need a study to see if cocaine leads to reckless behavior because it's obvious. No it isn't obvious. It is thinking like that that leads to bad laws and bad decisions.

    Quick example: is driving under the influence of alcohol dangerous? Most people would say it's obvious. Actually, we don't know because we don't know how many people drive under the influence, but arrive safely. All we know for sure is that MORE accidents happen by people driving that are NOT under the influence. Without having all the information, we can not know if maybe driving drunk is actually SAFER.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:43 PM, laugh123 wrote:

    What a douche... yeah, you Sean. And please don't delete this comment, it is just as respectful as this post. Don't dish it out if you can't take it. There are people behind each of these projects and your comments are not nearly as absolute and profound as you would like to think. I'm just saying, this post is about as uncouth, disrespectful, and ignorant as any I have read at The Fool. Don't you remember the difference between being 'foolish' and being 'Foolish'? One shouldn't hold the comments here (or anywhere) to any higher standard than the article itself.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:47 PM, devoish wrote:

    I like getting into a good poo flinging now and again.

    Ultimately you have shown that government waste adds to the body of human knowledge in a way that you would never even imagine.

    That said, I would have to be pretty drunk/stoned to decide that giving cocaine to quail was a good idea.

    Let's find out we can about that study.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:52 PM, ergraham wrote:

    @Russty224 I'm sorry, are we forgetting about the $184 million annually in #1?

    The article's point is to highlight the dumbest, not the highest cost.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 6:58 PM, arcticpost wrote:

    Why did you choose these 10? What independent research did you do to verify the egregiousness of these choices?

    From what I can tell it looks like you just went to Coburn's "report" and decided to post what he said without any type of due diligence.

    Unless I'm wrong and you contacted the University of Kentucky researchers, Notre Dame and Sprint, U-Cal Riverside etc to get a sense of why they requested these funds. But I don't see where you've done so, else I'm sure you would have mentioned it. Of course it does not look like Coburn's office did so either.

    Do I know why? Nope, but I've begun doing a little reading (again, more than you appear to have done) on at least one of them, the University of Kentucky's research.

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/2011/12...

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:00 PM, colleran wrote:

    Really, most of these items are not even worth discussing. We could have had many more (other than the jet engine thing) for the cost of the GSA extravaganza in Vegas.

    Also, I am sure that the research done at my alma mater, Notre Dame, was of critical importance (whatever it was).

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:03 PM, devoish wrote:

    That did not take long.

    Why use quail in a study? For the willfully ignorant; who cares.

    For those who wish to learn something;

    <<Why is Japanese quail such a good laboratory animal?

    Japanese quail is sometimes called the “mouse of bird research”. The two species are comparable in a number of important properties (see: Breeding Strategies for Maintaining Colonies of Laboratory Mice – A Jackson Laboratory Resource Manual; Japanese Quail As A Laboratory Animal – Avian Genetic Resource Laboratory (AGRL); Quail – AnimalResearch.info).

    For example, gestation in mice lasts 18-21 days. In quail, the eggs hatch in 16-17 days. Those are both extremely fast developmental times, making it easy to quickly breed a lot of experimental animals.

    It takes about six weeks for both mice and quail to attain sexual maturity after they are born. Again, that is a very fast maturation rate, making it efficient for breeding in the lab.

    Mice can have litters anywhere between two and 12 pups at a time. Quail can lay essentially an egg per day throughout the year, throughout their lives. Quail win on this one – they can produce much more offspring per year. Efficient.

    While techniques for genetic manipulation in quail lagged behind those of mice (just like those of mice lagged by many years behind Drosophila techniques), they are now available. It is now possible to make transgenic quail and use them in genetic research.

    In many other aspects, quail is a better lab animal than the mouse (or rat or chicken). While laboratory strains of mice have been “domesticated” for only a few decades, the quail has been fully domesticated for about 500 years – it is poultry. While lab mice will rarely bite, they have to be handled with care – on the other hand, you can CUDDLE with a quail if you want to!>>

    But wait, there's more;

    <<It is a hardy animal, very easy to keep, breed and feed, with minimal demands (which is why so many small farmers breed them around the world). They are social animals so they can be kept in groups. They are small and generally happy and content, so many more quail can be kept in a room without being stressed than, for example, one can keep comparatively enormous, slow-breeding, slow-maturing chicken in the room of the same size.>>

    For those of you want to learn even more and not remain pathetically ignorant of science there is even more at the link: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a-blog-around-the-clock/...

    And, the story claims to to link to another story that explains why studying the effect of cocaine is a good idea, beyond the political fodder, beyond the cutesy coburn story, and beyond any entertainment from watching hens f**k.

    I am going to read it and share some of what I find. Excited?! I am.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:06 PM, russty224 wrote:

    @ergraham

    Yes, I did. That one I agree with, the penny should be done away with, just the same as the paper dollar.

    I was just trying to point out that the scale is tiny here. The bailouts to oil companies is thousands of times bigger than all of these "wastes of money" listed here.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:08 PM, nin4086 wrote:

    The government does waste a lot of money but these are not the ways in which they do that...really bad article. If I want to hear a standup comic, I will find one on TV. I visit fool.com for other reasons.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:21 PM, laugh123 wrote:

    ergraham, so if it's not just about cost, what's so dumb about not changing to coins?

    BTW, I am almost positive (sorry, I don't have facts to back this up, but that should be fine considering the article) that it would cost more than $184 million dollars to change all of the vending machines in the nation over to dollar coins. Although it would stimulate the wallet economy (where do I put five coins, I don't even carry change), as well as the coin sorter economy. I could go on and on and on... oh yeah, so that would be another cost, the whole R&D and convincing 50% of the public that this is the right thing to do (depends whether a Republican or Democrat is president at the time whether the Republicans or the Democrats will put up a fight about it).

    I actually lived with 1 and 5 dollar coins for years so I can honestly say there's not much difference (I slightly prefer the coins if you must know).

    Just saying, maybe you're right, it's not just about the cost... in which case I still take issue that failure to switch to dollar coins is anywhere near the top of the dumbest list.

    And SolarInvestor, seriously, your argument against government regulation is to point out how dumb the illegality of drinking and driving is? You have apparently never been killed by a drunk driver (or known anyone who has). It's a shame that it would take such personal pain for you to be convinced otherwise. To generalize, it certainly explains how so many people can do so many things to hurt so many others - all it takes is focusing on yourself.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:37 PM, NeuroNerd wrote:

    So, speaking as an actual neuroscientist...

    Furthering Steven's (much-appreciated) comment, Japanese quail are especially excellent model animals for studying sexual behavior, so they're quite appropriate for the study in question. They have highly sexually dimorphic (ie-males and females are very different) appearances and brain organization, as well as excellent visual processing that they use to collect sexual cues for informing their behavior. Not unlike humans, as people-watching pretty much anywhere that hormonal teenagers congregate and check each other out will tell you.

    As for why we'd care about how cocaine and other drugs affect sexual behavior, that's easy--for starters, if they could understand the process better and eventually find a way to block it, fewer abortions and fewer crack babies. Ergo, less government money WASTED on unnecessary social services.

    In all likelihood, similar social good could be extrapolated from the other studies pointed out by Coburn, I just don't happen to be as familiar with the science (though for the record, my research has absolutely nothing to do with quail, sex, or drugs). Sean, please do us all a favor and don't give any more of a megaphone to the short-sighted morons in the modern Republican party than Fox already does.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:37 PM, devoish wrote:

    Wow. This stuff is kinky hot. Check this out!

    <<Cocaine use, in particular, has been linked to increased sexual activity, a greater number of sex partners and unprotected sex. Cocaine users entering treatment are more likely to have had unprotected sex in exchange for drugs or money or to have had sex with a high risk partner. It has also been associated with a higher than normal incidence of STDs. Cocaine users having multiple partner sex were 1.5 times more likely to be HIV positive compared to cocaine users who were not engaging in sex with more than one partner.

    This means that studies on the effects of cocaine and sexual behavior are an important area of research, not just for cocaine abusers, but for the people who sleep with them. It’s important from two public health standpoints, those of drug abuse and those of sexually transmitted diseases. The results of studies like these could be important in how we tackle both treating drug abuse AND how we target safe sex campaigns and STD treatments. If we know where people are more likely to pick up infections, we may be able to catch infections early and slow transmission rate.

    And there’s another angle as well. Both drugs like cocaine and behaviors like sex operate via reward circuitry in your brain. Drug use can disrupt this reward circuitry, changing behavior long after drug use is over. As Dr. Akins notes, if cocaine and sex are routed through similar systems, and they are, “cocaine and/or the environment where cocaine was taken might play a role in the reinstatement or reappearance of [high risk] sexual practices”. And using an animal model to study this means that we can look at more than just behavior, we can look at underlying hormonal and neurobiological changes which may underlie that behavior following cocaine exposure (most humans get a little annoyed when you try to look at their brains). Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health are more than just correlations between drug exposure and animal behavior, they also seek to understand MECHANISM. What is CAUSING the difference in behavior following drug exposure, how is the system changed?

    So the point of this study is to observe how cocaine use changes sexual behaviors, what the effects are, and how they might be combated by targeting drugs at the reward system, trying to restore balance.>>

    And then after the USA funds the initial research, Pfizer buys the data on the cheap, continues funding research at their expense and is lauded for developing a drug that ends cocaine addiction and makes us all rich!

    Do you hate rich people too?

    I hope you enjoyed the mocking/insulting tone of my replies. They were intended to be reflective of the mocking/insulting tone of your OP.

    Even though Government has no place in your life except to steal from you, has IYHO no place in studying cocaine addiction unless it is in the defense of this great Country, putting that aside, for a moment, perhaps your next reply might include these statements;

    'Even though Government has no place funding any scientific studies I now have a better understanding of why studying the effects of cocaine on quail - specifically Japanese quail - has the potential to further human knowledge and understanding of how to treat cocaine addiction.'

    'Even though Government has no place funding any scientific studies I now have a better understanding of why quail - specifically Japanese quail - is a good choice as a laboratory animal.'

    And then finally this one;

    'Ignorance sucks, but its lazy and its easy, and Tom Coburn and my post have at least that much in common with cocaine addicted quail.'

    Bets wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:49 PM, laugh123 wrote:

    But, devoish and NeuroNerd, while you may have shown that the crack quail study has relevance and implications beyond just the pleasure that scientists get from wasting other peoples' money (undisputed, no?), you have not shown how it is relevant and of any interest to those folks who don't care about the health and welfare of other people. For those who believe that the government works for them, and only them, and that other people are just speedbumps to getting to work and back (or is it getting home and back to work), or that other people don't actually exist unless they can see them (and then ignore them), and that Jesus must have been a crackpot to actually care about everyone (but they're still Christians!) - for those people this research has little to no relevance... except that someone mentioned sex videos of birds.

    Now imagine that instead of coins or bills you used your life as money. Some go broke and die (literally) while others are wealthy and live forever. Time is money. Someone should make a movie about that...

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:59 PM, arcticpost wrote:

    So what we've discovered so far is that with the amount of research and rigor that Mr Williams put into this article then we can extrapolate that information into his other writing for TMF?

    Man, I'm feeling twitchy about making that decision without improving the quality and quantity of my data.

    I know! I'll read some more of Mr Williams' articles, research his findings and make decisions from there. But that takes time and effort, so, nah, I'll just assume they're all like this.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 8:03 PM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Sean, I'm guessing you have never had to write a research grant proposal, been on a review committee, or a peer-review journal editorial board or you wouldn't be flippantly denigrating others work. This fluff piece is beneath you.

    I respectfully request that you stick to what you know and understand.

    FM

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 8:03 PM, parkdale1 wrote:

    I worked for a Federal agency about 40 years ago. Management bragged about their success --- touting about the great upcoming increases of their budgets. They measured their success by how much more of taxpayer's money they were going to spend next year! Then this same excitement was repeated the following year, and the following year, etc., etc., etc. Even at 24 years old, I realized that this thinking should not continue --- I left them, and found a career in the private sector! No wonder the Federal government has grown out of control!

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 8:09 PM, devoish wrote:

    <<But, devoish and NeuroNerd, while you may have shown that the crack quail study has relevance and implications beyond just the pleasure that scientists get from wasting other peoples' money (undisputed, no?)>> laugh123

    Sean has not acknowledged that yet, but thank you.

    <<you have not shown how it is relevant and of any interest to those folks who don't care about the health and welfare of other people.>>

    I disagree. The link talks about a possible link to increased risky sexual behavior without cocaine use, just from returning to the environment where the earlier increased sexual behavior happened due to cocaine use.

    Think of the money that could be saved if the secret service or hedge fund managers knew all they had to do was just get the sexual target back into the room, and did not have to waste the money on the cocaine.

    And with such understanding there might even be an increase in the determination of targets not to go back, even sober.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 8:18 PM, arcticpost wrote:

    Dear parkdale, sorry but purely anecdotal evidence doesn't mean a thing.

    That's like my saying that in all of my years as a government employee I've never known a single, solitary person who has felt or acted the way you describe. Which, while that is true, my evidence, here, is anecdotal too.

    So, which department did you work for? How long were you there? What were the names and titles of the people who made these statements? Who did you complain to in your organization that your co-workers or superiors weren't being respectful enough of taxpayer dollars? Wrote to your director? Contacted your congressman? Blew the whistle? Etc.

    I guess too in all of your years in the private sector you never saw a single person, ever, make a statement, or undertake an action that you saw while with a "Federal agency?" Everybody focused 100% of the time on maximizing shareholder value? Never wasted a penny of shareholder money? That's very impressive.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 9:56 PM, OccupyMyNutsack wrote:

    Wow, my eyes have been opened. So now that you read the article (quails) and kindly digested it for me, I am enlightened and now realize that if I go on a rampant cocaine bender and find myself fornicating with loose women, I will be more likely to fornicate more frequently in said fornication location. Good to know. So now if I wake up with my nose aching I know I should avoid diners and motel 8's so I dont systematically lapse into the aforementioned coke crazed sex fest and abuse my reproductive organs. Thanks for the immeasurable amount of knowledge I have just gained. Next your going to tell me that a study is needed to see if marijuana makes me more prone to slurpee's, family guy, and napping.

    Science is a wonderful thing. Stupid spending is still stupid. Want good scientific spending, give the money to NASA.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 10:09 PM, CynicFan329 wrote:

    I work for the Government. While there are lots of examples where, taken out of context, the expenditures can be made to seem ludicrous, my take on the biggest failure is that Government keeps trying to act like a business. The Government isn't by any means a business. It misses the one goal which drives any business, to make a profit. The sooner the Government realizes that its job is Government and creates financial structures and organizations to Govern rather than try to fit into business models, the better we all will be. We waste trillions trying to run Government like a business and subjecting our Government to business type decisions. We look at studies as crazy. When analyzed from a business side, they truly make no sense. When analyzed from a Government perspective, to provide public funding for people and ideas which may stretch the imagination and provide some new spark to create new businesses, then many of these strange decisions don't seem so stupid. Please remember that our Government isn't a business. It is a Government-it gets to deal with all the things we the people can't or won't do because they aren't profitable but are necessary for civilized life. Funding for the arts might be limited to allowing the rich to pay for what they like (as in the renaissance) or government can do it. Funding for the military can be done by warlords and strongmen, or Government can do it. Example after example, they all result from the same issue, it is your perception and the mirror against which you measure the expenditures

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 10:48 PM, rgon1969 wrote:

    There may very well be excellent reasons to complete the referenced research projects. However, I would question the concept of using tax money for their completion. Politicians have been using OUR tax dollars to help them get re-elected instead of advancing the future well being of our citizens. Part of being a good financial manager is balancing the annual budget. Another aspect of a good Government is setting an environment for business' to grow and succeed. This takes long term planning and commitment toward specific goals. Instead we have wishy-washy Federal regulations that have many business decision makers pulling their hair out.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 11:02 PM, Zombie111 wrote:

    I heard the journalist from the Rolling Stone magazine stating that 54% of the U.S. tax dollar goes to the Pentagon, and that they spend literally billions each year on public relations. I am not sure how much ROI the U.S. taxpayer is getting for that. And how much is wasted.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 11:07 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    I am not surprised that someone who describes Tom Coburn as his favorite member of Congress would be so hostile toward - and so terribly uninformed about - science. Money that the government invests in research often pays dividends many times over, and generally represents much better financial stewardship than pretty much anything you'll find at Homeland Security or the DEA.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 11:20 PM, TrackUltraLong wrote:

    I'm not sure where the idea came about that I'm anti-science because that just isn't the case. It's the complete absurdity and/or scope of the ideas listed (as well as of the other 90 listed by Coburn) that make the list so interesting.

    TMFUltraLong

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 4:41 AM, nivekluap wrote:

    I don't recall how long ago this happened, but there was a study done in Minnesota to find the cause of a drought. The findings......(drum roll, please)...LACK OF RAIN...TA DA!!! I can't wait for the study to come out on the latest cause of flooding.

    KD

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 6:51 AM, arcticpost wrote:

    Sean you're missing the point. The argument isn't that you are "anti-science" its that you've taken what a highly partisan person, with a clear anti-government agenda, said is waste, and is of no value, and you've repeated it. WITHOUT doing any research yourself as to whether or not anything on your list is actually money well spent.

    Just because something is absurd when you first look at it does not mean, when you actually take the time to study it, that it continues to be absurd.

    Nivekluap what study? The one and only page of findings for the entire study said "The reason for this drought is lack of rain?" It said nothing else, no models, nothing about climate change, nothing about changes in weather patterns, not a single solitary thing but "lack of rain." Really? You can't actually remember the study, how long ago it was done, any information at all? But, lo, you said it and it was good?

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 6:55 AM, arcticpost wrote:

    I saw a study once, I don't remember where or when, but 4 out of 5 people said Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2011 was a joke.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 7:18 AM, BMFPitt wrote:

    This should be called "10 random stupid things the government has spent money on" since none of these are remotely significant enough to be in the top 10.

    Of course Tom Coburn doesn't have any interest in getting rid of most of that stuff.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 8:33 AM, devoish wrote:

    niveklaup,

    Of course the reason for a drought is lack of rain. Any moron can tell you that and I am sure it was a moron that did. And if you are smart enough to get past the moron you might find that the study really found that the drought was worsened by having cut down trees or diversion of water into run-off basins instead of soaking into the ground or over tilling and lost organic matter to hold water in the soil, or heaven forbid, something else that neither you or even I know.

    Captainwidget,

    Yes, I am supporting my trusting some of my tax dollars to studies I do not understand. Moron that i am.

    Sean,

    Nothing? No acknowledgement there might be someone who knows something you and Coburn do not? No comment on an increased understanding of the use of quail in science, the value of studying drug addiction, anything that might suggest you are not anti-science? Before your post inspired me to look for information on the subject I had no idea quail were useful that way. At least one of us learned something new.

    ir0b0t,

    The dept of defense is not paying me to counter Tom Coburns public relations attack on the United States Government. I am doing it for free, because I think there is value in studying subject matter I do not know about.

    rgon1969,

    Do you just not believe the people who are telling you that the funding for studying cocaine and quail is not allocated by politicians? Funding for studying is provided by politicians and taxpayers, deciding what to spend the limited funding on is decided by scientists. Funding for mapping the human genome was provided by the US Gov. Private enterprise might have done it more efficiently or cheaper, but it did not even get started.

    Occupymytheprofanityfilterbannednutsckfrommycomment,

    It sounds like Coburn is your guy.

    Seattle1115, articpost and cynicfan,

    Thank you for chiming in, it is often easier to just let idiocy spread.

    http://blogs.alternet.org/oleoleolson/2010/08/05/massive-cen...

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 10:56 AM, maniladad wrote:

    Devoish, in your research did you find out what constitutes risky sexual behavior in quail? That question has been bugging me since I read Sean's article. I can't shake an image of a quail failing to use a tiny little condom given to him by a terribly earnest coed on the sidewalk in front of a crackhouse.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 11:25 AM, devoish wrote:

    Maniladad,

    The only increased risk to quail that I could imagine from becoming overly horney is the possibility that while under the watchful eye of a bobcat, a quail might be thinking hornyhornyhorny when it should have been thinking runrunrun.

    Your imagination is better than mine. Tell me, does she try to deal with little quails lack of fingers too?

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 1:06 PM, TMFUltraLong wrote:

    This thread has gone so...so... wrong.

    On a side note, I did *not* plan it like this, but it just so happens that Sen Coburn was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. Unfortunately, no discussion of Wastebook 2011 or quails on cocaine.

    TMFUltraLong

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 2:14 PM, ynotc wrote:

    I think the most wasteful governement program is Health Care.

    For anyone to think that a single payer system would be more efficient is like saying that we should have only one phone maker or one SuperMarket.

    Competition is what increases efficiency. Monopolies increase cost and reduce choice.

    The new Health Care law will homogenize offerings so that the result will look like the choices and quality that one recieved in the U.S.S.R. Long lines, poor service, poor quality and not incentive to perform better.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 4:40 PM, devoish wrote:

    Sean,

    Jon Stewart's audience is missing out.

    ynotc,

    Great theory. Hasn't panned out that way.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 5:09 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    @ynotc: "For anyone to think that a single payer system would be more efficient is like saying that we should have only one phone maker or one SuperMarket.

    "Competition is what increases efficiency. Monopolies increase cost and reduce choice."

    This might arguably be true if health care operated as an efficient market, but it doesn't and never will. There is no equality of bargaining position, no equality of access to information, and no reasonable likelihood that a buyer will walk away from the transaction if he or she doesn't like the price. Health care is a textbook example of a market that is characterized by failures.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 5:29 PM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    <<Yes, I am supporting my trusting some of my tax dollars to studies I do not understand. Moron that i am.>>

    That's not what I asked. If these studies creators approached you at the grocery store asking for a dollar, would you give them one?

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 5:35 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    @CaptainWidget:"That's not what I asked. If these studies creators approached you at the grocery store asking for a dollar, would you give them one?"

    I know that question wasn't directed at me, but I'll go ahead and answer it - no. No, I would not.

    Which is why one does not apply for a research grant by asking for spare change at the grocery store.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 6:37 PM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    Obviously you're going away from the intent of the question. Would you voluntarily donate a dollar to them under any circumstances? Would any logical person? And for what logical reason?

    And if no, what is the logic behind defending your tax dollars being used on those projects?

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 9:08 PM, arcticpost wrote:

    Sean I can only imagine the thread has gone wrong for you because you're receiving pushback for your assertions.

    And you still don't get it.

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 9:36 PM, devoish wrote:

    CaptainWidget,

    Generally my impulse would be to not donate. I have been occasionally persuaded to help fund estuary studies and the like. But I have more confidence that the study is worthwhile if it is selected by the NIH.

    I have more confidence that the results of the study I funded through the NIH and my taxes, paid for their benefit to us all, will be published for public benefit rather than risk my donation being used for personal gain.

    There is also a bit more to think about, but you usually don't want to think about things too long. I know I have to pay taxes, it is accounted for in my budget. The request at the supermarket is a surprise expense I am less prepared to pay and so less likely to pay.

    I am only confronted with the study in front of me at the supermarket. the NIH gets to peruse many studies for the most beneficial, but you have already heard and ignored that argument.

    Lastly, I was a mechanic and now a farmer. The NIH is far more qualified to decide what studies to fund than I am, and it is not what I do best anyway.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 9:45 PM, devoish wrote:

    arcticpost,

    Sean was making a joke about the imagined perversions when he wrote that. I was nice to let him off the hook about answering whether or not he can learn anything.

    In fact, when you look at Coburn's number two;

    <<2. Feces-flinging chimpanzees

    William Hopkins, at Agnes Scott College, and researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center utilized a portion of $592,527 in federal funding last year to discover the origins behind chimpanzees and their desire to throw food and feces at passersby. After taking MRIs and performing multiple cognitive tests on the chimps, researchers determined that chimps with better feces-throwing skills had better communication skills than other apes. Thumbs-up, guys!>>

    Perhaps it would be interesting to test if our OP's author, can throw feces as well as he throws mud.

    How about it Sean? Did you learn there might be more than you first thought coming from a cocaine and quail study? And how far and how often do you fling feces?

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2012, at 9:52 PM, TMFUltraLong wrote:

    Arcticpost,

    No, I can take the criticism as it comes. I just never assumed that three-quarters of the thread would be devoted to Japanese quails...

    As for my post itself, I stand by it. It's not anti-science so much as it is a stab at the government's anti-job creation stance with this egregious spending. Add up Sen Coburn's list and figure out how many jobs we could have created with that money. My guess is it would be more than based on the money that was spent on the majority of the research.

    Again.. is science worth spending money on? Absolutely? But could we have maybe received donations for the quail study as opposed to pilfering from taxpayers... yes!

    TMFUltraLong

    PS... I personally found the tree census to be the best one on the list.

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 1:14 PM, wangchung9000 wrote:

    Sean,

    Why is it that scientific research doesn't create jobs? Research scientists and assistants have to be hired, equipment has to be purchased, etc. Why is it that funding a study isn't stimulative but building a road is?

    It's pretty well established that investing in scientific research yields excellent returns for the national well-being and economy. The fact that you think these studies are silly doesn't really prove anything, other than the fact that you aren't an expert in those fields. I'm not either, but I'm familiar enough with the way science is funded in the country to say: peer review of research proposals is no joke.

    I don't understand why you're so dismissive of something you don't immediately understand...

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 1:43 PM, pantalons wrote:

    What did we pay Mr. Coburn for this study? Also, where is the Iraq War on the list?

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 1:53 PM, kbsTMF wrote:

    Interesting article, but small potatoes. You should have done a "How much does the Senate and Congress cost per year, and what do we get out of it?"

    How about their:

    Senate Hair Care Revolving Fund

    Senate Restaurant Fund

    Senate Gift Shop Revolving Fund

    And on and on and on.

    http://realitybloger.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/the-senate-how...

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/annualreport/index.html#part%20one

    Max

    Disgusted with government

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 2:38 PM, GRSG wrote:

    Surely the unbelievable total F-35 program is the be all and end all Government waste program?

    We were sold a bill of goods on its capabilities and its price.

    Revamp the F-18, build a few more F-22's and dump the F-35 program completely.

    Should save us a cool Trillion or more.

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 2:50 PM, TrackUltraLong wrote:

    wangchung9000,

    Well look at where many of these studies were highlighted - U.S. Universities.

    There's no reason to believe that these universities couldn't have raised their own funding to conduct these studies. In addition, it's not as if new jobs were created with these studies so much as current job-holders (scientists, professors, researchers) were given new or additional assignments with government funds. We very easily could be putting more people to work or creating more jobs as opposed to handing money over to universities that are themselves run like a business. it has nothing to do with science itself... it has to do with an egregious use of taxpayer money.

    TMFUltraLong

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 3:14 PM, HC98 wrote:

    This article has an innacurate headline.

    These are "10 Obscure Ways the Government Wastes ... Money"; but certainly not the 10 dumbest.

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 3:29 PM, Sandalbar wrote:

    This dumb story is a waste of my time, which is more important to me than the items shown here.

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 4:51 PM, dscfool wrote:

    This misses the big picture, these are minuscule things compared to the massive waste of money via Medicare and social security, which are 10s of trillions in projected long-term debt and will bankrupt our country unless reformed!!!

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 5:01 PM, devoish wrote:

    <<There's no reason to believe that these universities couldn't have raised their own funding to conduct these studies>>

    Because the study of cocaine's influence on quail sexual behavior needs to be done.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 5:08 PM, devoish wrote:

    <<There's no reason to believe that these universities couldn't have raised their own funding to conduct these studies>>

    Because the study of cocaine's influence on quail sexual behavior is not a waste of money.

    That's better.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 5:11 PM, devoish wrote:

    <<There's no reason to believe that these universities couldn't have raised their own funding to conduct these studies>>

    Because the study of cocaine's influence on quail sexual behavior is not wasteful spending, it is just Government spending.

    I'll stop now.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 5:14 PM, terryongarland wrote:

    Things I Learned from this article.

    It made me laugh

    It made me cry

    Science people really think whatever they do is important.

    People who read and respond, are generally better informed than probably 90% of the country

    Liberals and Conservatives have their hard drives wired totally different.

    We need to choose what we need, and what we want because we don't have enough money for both.

    We are broke and we need to fix it

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 5:17 PM, trekker wrote:

    A number of years ago, Senator William Proxmire was giving out "Golden Fleece" awards with a similar goal of making light of government expenditures. His biggest award was reserved for a scientist collecting bacteria from hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. The only problem with that is that every time you see a DNA analysis being done on CSI or NCIS, it is using the results from that very much ridiculed study.

    Colburn's examples are baby stuff. You want a big waste of government money? I own some farm land. It is very profitable. Why in the hell does the government send me money to top off that profit? Let me see an Oklahoma politician come out against farm subsidies and I will be impressed.

  • Report this Comment On May 04, 2012, at 6:24 PM, lshoemake wrote:

    Most of you nay-sayers are purely nuts. Senator Coburn is a DOCTOR. To say that he doesn't know, respect, or appreciate science simply shows YOUR ignorance. Talk about not doing your research!

    You don't like what DOCTOR COBURN (at least spell his name right if you're going to ignorantly slam him) has to say because it doesn't fit your liberal, free-spending agenda. Most Americans would be outraged to learn that our tax dollars are so frivously wasted. Laughably, some of you are actually defending such spending. You're funny (not 'ha ha' funny but 'crazy' funny).

    The government should not be funding ANY of the research mentioned in the article...period. If GE, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Lockheed Martin, etc. want to do research for new equipment jet that they will eventually sell to the U.S. government, let them do so. It's called free enterprise people! Hello!

    Government funding of research does NOT improve the economy (as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution).

    Government funding of research does NOT improve the national well-being (as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution).

    Government funding of research does NOT create jobs (as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution).

    Our government has clearly lost it's way. Thank God for men like Dr. Coburn that stand up against the liberal nay-sayers and try to do the right thing for our country.

  • Report this Comment On May 05, 2012, at 12:25 AM, ncadams wrote:

    We need to put these poor drugged up quails on food stamps... From the ads I hear every day about the "SNAP" program, I am sure that they would qualify. Now that is a program that needs some trimming!

  • Report this Comment On May 05, 2012, at 8:01 AM, JeanDavid wrote:

    Why is it that these 10 items made it to the list, where the trillions of dollars spent on illegal wars is omitted? Not to mention the homeland security and war against drugs? There sure is a perspective problem here.

  • Report this Comment On May 05, 2012, at 7:54 PM, devoish wrote:

    Our Federal government has been funding research since before the steamboat. In fact, it funded researching the steamboat.

    The Constitution is fine without your changing it.

    My research suggests Senator Coburn is a politician.

    "Promote the General Welfare" is in there.

    "Privatize the Army" is not.

    Efforts to understand and possibly solve addiction is money well spent, whether that addiction is cocaine, sugar or caffeine. It is not good for drug dealers, Coke, or Starbucks investors.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2012, at 12:57 AM, maxph wrote:

    One of the most useless articles I have ever read. What about subsidies to the oil and gas industry? I think the magnitude of those outweighs the paltry sums mentioned here.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2012, at 8:55 AM, redmondrr wrote:

    The role of the Federal Government is to:

    defend;

    maintain a currency;

    deliver mail;

    protect the individual rights of its citzens.

    The Federal Governmet was not established to provide my tax dollars for studying the effects of cocaine on quails, etc. Someone pointed out that all of the research note only amounted to 3-million - this is just the tip of the waste. I agree to that the Federal Government should not be providing subsidies to any anyone or any industry.

    Of course, on the bright side, I'm sure the quails and monkeys used in the studies were counted as new workers/new jobs.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2012, at 12:37 PM, Harley117 wrote:

    The federal government is the most inefficient institution that exists. That is why we need limited government growth, fiscal responsibility and free markets.

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 2:05 PM, dferry01 wrote:

    Hi Sean,

    Obviously, you've been pretty well raked over the coals for "attacking science." I'd just like to jump in and point out that you're also wrong about switching to dollar coins saving American taxpayers money. If you had read the GAO report, you would have found that switching to dollar coins would actually cost more money than keeping bills, and the reason that it nets $4.4 billion for the government (the $5.5b figure is older) is because the program would transfer money from currency users (ie taxpayers) to the government.

    Over a 30 year period, keeping one single dollar as a coin is indeed cheaper than keeping it as a bill. However, because of what the GAO calls the "coin jar effect" (which is exactly what it sounds like), in order to meet the demand for $1 denominations of currency, the government would have to produce 50% more coins than bills. People are apt to empty their pockets out at the end of the day and leave the change anywhere; but we keep track of bills much better. So the government not only has to produce enough coins for everyone to use on a daily basis, they have to produce extra coins so people can leave them on their dresser. That makes total production costs higher for a dollar coin than a dollar bill.

    However, the government makes a profit off of every unit of currency produced. Called "seignorage," this profit is the difference between the cost of producing a unit of currency and the gain the central bank realizes on the currency. To circulate new currency into the economy, the Federal Reserve uses newly-created hard currency to purchase Treasury securities, getting both the face value of the new currency as well as interest, for just the cost of production of the new currency.

    Meanwhile, currency users just have a pile of coins sitting around, not being deployed as purchasing power, earning no interest and actually depreciating in value due to inflation. Inflation driven in part by the expansion of the money supply.

    This idea, that the government basically gets to steal citizens' investment income by issuing a currency people won't use as much, is literally the sole reason that the GAO favors the dollar coin. And interest from seignorage, recall, is Treasury debt that is ultimately paid by taxpayers.

    What if the government decided to give the seignorage interest up in order to help out taxpayers? According to a Feb 2012 GAO report on the subject,"if the interest savings due to increased seigniorage are excluded from the analysis, the government would incur a total net loss of about $1.8 billion over 10 years, or an average of $179 million per year."

    What if people actually do use the dollar coin, and the Fed doesn't have to produce 1.5 coins for every 1 bill? According to the same report, "the government would incur a total net loss of about $582 million over 10 years, or an average of about $58 million per year."

    So yeah, the dollar coin is better for the government. But only because it provides an additional, sneaky opportunity to take taxpayers' money, so if you care about "wasting taxpayer money," you should oppose the dollar coin.

    Wouldn't you say?

    Foolishly,

    Danny

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 2:12 PM, dferry01 wrote:

    Oh, and the reason that high-denomination coins make better sense in other countries is because their bills are far less resilient than ours, lasting only about two years instead of the impressive four and a half that ol' George Washington manages. That dramatically changes the cost calculation.

    So hey, we've still got the best currency, physically-speaking, in the world.

    'Merica! F*ck Yeah!

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 3:12 PM, promommyfool wrote:

    A post on this site should educate readers. While I wasn't overly impressed with the choices you used in this article. (I was expecting a different sort of list; the high dollar waste items, not the odd and quirky.) I am very impressed with how your prompt prompted so much research by your readers. I'm not sure I've seen so many long posts individually researched in response to a light hearted look at a subject.

    See if you can do it again.

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 4:35 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    "Government funding of research does NOT improve the economy (as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution)."

    Ok this is openly debatable. The government has funded a lot of the research that has brought us many things that impact our daily lives, like the internet.

    "Government funding of research does NOT improve the national well-being (as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution)."

    Not sure what you mean by "national well-being" but there are many illnesses that are extremly rare in the US do to federal funding. The money spent to research better well to perserve fruits sure helped my lunch be better which made me better.

    "Government funding of research does NOT create jobs (as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution)."

    Interesting I could introduce you to a handful of people that work on research projects that are 85% government funded and would not exsist if that funding was not provided.

    As for all of your "as if that was a federal government role defined by the Constitution" you should know that the Constitution is a document that draws the boundries of what the government can not do and what it is required to do, not a document on what the government can only do. There are many outstanding articles about this at the Constitution Center and Independence Hall which you should really visit.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2012, at 12:29 AM, KLVirginian2 wrote:

    Not to get involved in the previous discussion, but here's another huge waste of taxpayer money. The administration recently hired 800 new tax sleuths to track down those bad expats working overseas to improve America's exports, to increase tax revenue. Those 800 agents jobs will cost some $250k/year in salaries and benefits for perhaps 20 years, and pensions for another 20 years after that. That's about $7-8 billion in expenditure commitments.

    What does the US gain for this? Let's see: the few American left overseas (because US tax policy makes them too expensive compared with other nationalities) almost certainly pay income tax in their countries of employment, in many cases more than in the US. Filing US tax means that existing tax treaties (with almost 70 countries) cause the tax paid to be directly credited against US tax on that income. The difference is small, occasionally negative. Let's say the average would be 2% positive to the US. With an average expat earning $250k in income and benefits - often to offset the low quality of healthcare, housing, food, and life in general in many if not most of those countries - and let's say even a huge 5% of 4.1 million expats left are outright tax cheats underpaying by 30%, that leaves a maximum of $30 million per year that can be gained from this huge commitment.

    Couple that with the losses to US economy by 1.) having other nationalities promoting their goods and services as they replace Americans in those jobs because they don't have to pay home country taxes, and 2.) huge losses of repatriation payments by American workers paid in other countries, and the losses are much, much bigger to the US.

    When you understand that other countries actually promote their citzens to live overseas with subsidies and tax benefits(!) as they generate export business for thier home industries, the folly of the US tax policy becomes glaringly clear. But there is no representation in Congress for expat Americans, so no one knows about it.

    We should be pushing and promoting Americans to work overseas, not punish them. And certainly not wasting your money to hire more permanent government employees to chase down minimal income tax revenue benefits, especially to the huge detriment of US business' goods and service export revenue.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2012, at 3:17 PM, kspes wrote:

    Was that supposed to be funny? Can I have my 5min. of life back I wasted?

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2012, at 3:42 PM, fmontyr wrote:

    The article wasn't funny, just way off the mark, i.e., ignorant. The biggest waste of taxpayer money is for training killers to use killing machines and then killing like in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2012, at 5:50 AM, thidmark wrote:

    Can the chimps be trained to throw their feces at our government leaders?

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2012, at 2:03 PM, actuary99 wrote:

    Wow, that was probably the best set of comments I've ever read on this website.

    "We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity."

    - Marie Curie

    Conveniently, those downplaying the importance of scientific research receive the same benefits of modern technology as those who recognize the importance. Instead of whining about research grants, you should be bending the knee to scientists because they're the reason we don't live like the Amish.

    In a related note, hedge funds are recruiting some of science's best minds (math/physics/CPU programming majors) to prevent them from accidentally making a meaningful contribution to science and society. Also, didn't someone just spend $300 million to shorten their fiberoptic cables to the NYSE from 600 feet away to 300 feet away? I don't care whose money that is, its a bit disgusting to me.

    Good thing this asshat Tom Cockburn has focused on the important stuff. This is from the party opposing research on fetuses THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN ABORTED. To be fair, democrats aren't much better.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2012, at 2:20 PM, irvingfisher wrote:

    Funding science? Bah what a waste of money. What has science done for us lately?

    Moreover, scientists should not decide which projects get funded (as it works now). Instead, we should get politicians and people off the street to decide what gets funded. Only then can we inject some much needed common sense into science, which to date, has clearly failed us.

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2013, at 6:29 PM, heathnoble wrote:

    Ahhh, well, you forget my favorite wasters in Arizona.

    BOth NSF.

    Ant social networking, Dornhausen lab, U of A.

    And....drumroll......

    iPlant Cyberinfrastructure, 50 million with a renewal I think (yes that's 100)...and no product other than keeping people's paychecks fat and happy in this day and age of government shutdowns. 200K is not uncommon if you attend meetings....also, in return for the NSF's good graces, we can help place your program officer in a lucrative position at the library school, lol.

    The reciprocity song from Chicago comes to mind....look them up, they are SPECTACULARLY wasteful. iPlant more so than anything else I've ever seen. But ant social networking is dumb, sorry, we're in an economic crisis, folks.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2013, at 2:22 PM, Jcs5 wrote:

    Psycho-social studies and experiments are a TOTAL waste of money and do nothing for America. Dollars would be much better invested in physics and engineering. The entire psych science sector is a joke. The nation that makes scientific strides in physics and engineering, will be the nation on top. Period. And we should be encouraging the math and science degrees rather than social degrees.

    I stand with conservatives against social and psych Funding. Cut them all.

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Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1877290, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/2/2014 9:15:21 AM

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