By Jackson Richman
While wasteful government spending may be nothing new amid an ever-growing national debt and deficit, a recent report outlining such spending in fiscal year 2016 may surprise or outrage you, like Congress allocating $173,089 to a university to support a four-week study for “racially diverse bisexual women” to “document their experience with microaggressions.”
The study, published by the watchdog Open the Books, consists of 50 examples of wasteful grants by the federal government in addition to other pork-barrel spending.
For example, between 2014 and 2016, Fortune 100 companies, like Boeing, received grants worth a total $3.2 billion despite their billions in revenue. (The Export-Import Bank definitely plays a role in the cronyism.)
Here’s a list of some of the 50 federal grants, courtesy of your hard-earned taxpayer money (All quotations are from the report):
1. Sex Education for prostitutes in California – $1,486,376
The California Prostitutes Education Project received almost $1.49 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “The project describes itself as a ‘youth-centered initiative’ that ‘works with street prostitutes’ to teach ‘safer sex and needle use’ in a way that’s respectful of their clients’ ‘lifestyle and choices,’ despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in California and 48 other U.S. states” (Nevada has sanctioned prostitution).
2. Video games to fight obesity and diabetes – $537,250
This $537,250 grant from HHS to the Baylor College of Medicine “backed the development of video games for diabetes and obesity prevention.” These games “encourage players to increase their intake of fruits, vegetables, and water while lowering the amount of sedentary me and increasing healthy activity.” The study involved 36 adolescents between 13 years old and 17 years old. Researchers tested and logged the participants’ results.
3. Cigar taste test – $114,375
Through HHS, “Virginia Commonwealth University researched the impact of various cigar flavors on abuse liability and addictiveness among young adults. The study involved 25 adults who smoked five flavored cigars – plain, original black and mild, apple, cream, and wine-flavored – then gauged whether the taste influenced their likelihood to begin smoking.”
4. Funding a notorious childcare facility – $5,052,054
The Shiloh Treatment Center in Texas has a history of negligence and abuse, such as being responsible for restraint-related deaths.
Reports from children and investigators “led the U.S. Representative from a neighboring Texas district – Sheila Jackson Lee (TX- 18) – to publicly call on the center to close its doors. U.S. Representative Pete Olson said he wondered why this small facility in his district is so expensive and whether the children are safe, so he visited the center in the summer of 2014 but received no answers.”
And the allegations continued through 2016.
Official Texas Health and Human Services Commission reports show four ‘deficiencies’ over the past two years, three considered high risk and one medium high risk. These infractions included mold on the ceilings and supervisors falling asleep on the job. Yet, in fiscal year 2016 Shiloh Treatment Center received more than $5 million for its 44-person capacity facility, operated out of a mobile home.
3. An animated children’s cartoon – $2.5 million
This grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission “supported the production of two seasons of Space Racers, an animated children’s cartoon in which the main characters embark on several space adventures.”
Ironically, the commission is located in the district represented by Mo Brooks, a member of the fiscally conservative Freedom Caucus. His former Freedom Caucus colleague, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, was narrowly confirmed as NASA administrator last month.
4. Virtual reality to teach children in China how to cross the street – $183,750
The University of Alabama Birmingham received a $183,750 HHS grant to “develop a virtual reality platform designed to teach children in China how to cross the street. Delivered via the internet to tablets, phones, and computers, this training system serves as a precursor to similar platforms aimed at other potentially dangerous situations such as dog bites and drowning.”
5. Listening to National Parks – $20,000
Michigan Technological University received that amount from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a project titled “Listening to Parks.”
“In this project, researchers recorded ambient sounds at public parks to inspire composers to produce orchestral pieces. The recordings took place in Keweenaw National Historic Park, Isle Royale National Park, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.”
The NEA and the National Park Service altogether gave $1,067,500 toward similar programs in 27 states, including Michigan.
You can read the full report below.
To quote Ben Franklin: A penny saved is a penny earned.