The federal government’s waste in 2014 ranges from pornography and drunkenness to ignoring homeless veterans, and that’s not the half of it.
The U.S. government spent $3.5 trillion this year with a deficit of $486 billion. Federal spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation in the last 20 years, and with skyrocketing spending, the federal government has, believe it or not, wasted billions.
Here are some of the most ridiculous examples of 2014.
The Federal government allotted $466,642 for a grant to study why obese girls don’t have sex. According to the report’s abstract, obese girls have less sex, but when they do have sex they are less likely to use protection. The NIH funded a similar grant last year. Who knows, maybe the government will continue searching for answers on this important issue for years to come.
A government oversight report released in the fall showed that although the government has spent $8 billion fighting the opium trade in Afghanistan, opium growth levels are at an all-time high. In fact, the government even accidentally funded opium growers. Afghanistan now produces 90 percent of the world’s opium. High time we made a change.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is a champion of mismanagement and waste, in scale and longevity. Even after months of public criticism for pathetic service and wasted funds, an oversight report showed that the VA is on track to mismanage hundreds of millions in the coming years. Since the VA doesn’t try to get the best prices for its contracts, the agency will inappropriately spend $159 million annually, or $795 in the next five years. The Inspector General has been pointing to this type of waste since 2005 to little avail.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of veterans have had to wait weeks just to get a doctor’s appointment. In fact, a separate oversight report blasted the VA for failing to answer homeless veterans’ calls for help. When tens of thousands of veterans called the VA hotline, they only got an answering machine.
Bananas Behaving Badly
The federal government gave almost $5 million to the University of Tennessee to fund a program where students dress up as fruits and vegetables to encourage healthier eating. The program makes low-quality videos of students dressed as a cluster of grapes or a red tomato as they commit antics like scaring adults and running through the halls.
Sen. Tom Coburn will step down in early 2015, but he left behind a legacy of exposing government waste. His annual “Wastebook” highlighted the most outlandish government spending. In 2014, Coburn picked out $25 billion in waste for his last go-around.
The federal government wasted $19 million dollars because of a bureaucratic culture that would rather put bad employees on paid leave than fire them. An unruly employee can be be quietly put on paid leave for months to avoid a confrontation. An EPA employee watching hours of porn at work daily, and a Secret Service agent passing out drunk on the job, were a few of the many to receive paid leave.
The federal government also dropped $387,000 to give rabbits Swedish massages. They were trying to study how the massages affected muscle recovery time, which left some lucky rabbits getting rubbed down four times a day.
Coburn’s 2014 list featured plenty more gems, including $856,000 to train a lion on a treadmill, $414,000 on a video game that could train terrorists, and $331,000 to study the relationship between low blood sugar and stabbing voodoo dolls.
Experts predict trillion-dollar deficits by 2021. At least we’re getting our money’s worth.
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