Human Events Blog

Wastebook 2012: Enter the robo-squirrel

Every year, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) publishes a “Wastebook” of absurd spending programs.  This year’s book weighs in at 200 pages… and $18 billion in wasted taxpayer money.  That’s more than triple the projected annual income from Barack Obama’s beloved “Buffett Rule.”

The mascot for this year’s Wastebook is RoboSquirrel, a $325,000 project to construct a synthetic squirrel, to serve as a sparring partner for rattlesnakes.  RoboSquirrel sounds like something out of a horror story told around campfires in Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods: “a taxidermied actual squirrel that is stored with live squirrels so it smells real.  The body and tail are heated with copper wiring, so the snake can see the squirrel’s heat signature as if it were real.  The tail is controlled by a linear servo motor that makes it wag back and forth.”  This ghastly machine rolls up next to nesting rattlesnakes and flips its cyborg tail around, provoking aggressive behavior in the snakes, and even more aggressive behavior in the taxpayers who got soaked to pay for it.

NASA spent $947,000 developing food for the Mars mission that will never happen, including pizza.  The taste test involved all-expenses-paid trips to Hawaii.  Supposedly NASA is worried that insufficient meal variety would be psychologically disruptive to astronauts on the long journey to the Red Planet, a journey that is unlikely to happen within the lifetimes of the taxpayers forking over their hard-earned money to fund this idiotic million-dollar study.  A quick survey of the actual dietary habits of the grad students involved in the study would have dispelled the notion that people can’t handle eating the same foods over and over again, especially if it’s pizza.

There’s a subsidy sponge airport in Oklahoma that no one actually uses, a $3 million ferryboat bailout that’s actually hurting local businesses, corporate welfare in spades, and piles of money vanishing into dubious overseas ventures, including a pottery class in Morocco whose students could not understand what the instructor was saying.

And it’s no surprise to find Food Stamp Nation with its own chapter in the Wastebook, good for $4.5 billion of abuse.  A lot of food stamp money goes for the purchase of the very same junk food that our maternal government denounces as a health crisis.  Expensive luxury coffee beverages are routinely purchased with those EBT cards.  Pot smokers get to factor the cost of their drugs into food-stamp eligibility, to subsidize the purchase of “munchies.”  Undercover observers “witnessed customers leaving with beer, diapers, and condoms” purchased using food stamp cards, which should at least make Sandra Fluke happy.  An exotic dancer pulling down $85k per year, while blowing nine grand on “cosmetic enhancements,” collected a thousand dollars in food stamp benefits.

And even as it’s handing out food stamps for the purchase of junk food, the USDA is also subsidizing the advertising of caviar.

The government can’t even punch out pennies without losing money, as each penny now costs two cents to produce.  But it’s subsidizing the creation of video games to simulate prom night.  Russian weapons institutes are using American grant money to recruit new nuclear scientists.  The federal government overpays for generally legitimate goods and services, to the tune of $50 billion per year.  A $350,000 study demonstrated that golfers perform better if they can imagine a larger hole.   Another $30,000 study established that “Gaydar is indeed real,” and has something to do with swiftly reading facial features.

Does the “ObamaPhone” put in an appearance in the Wastebook 2012?  You bet it does!  Be sure to check out the whole Wastebook.  You already paid for it, after all.

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