Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has released his annual "Wastebook," giving us all a window into the positively absurd ways in which the federal government spends the hard-earned tax dollars we give it. This year's list includes some items that would be laughable, if those who received the funding were not already laughing all the way to the bank.
Coburn's list included 100 items of federal spending totaling $30 billion. Here is just a (bad) taste:
- $125,000 from NASA to Arjun Contractor, for a 3-D pizza printer. Yes. A 3-D pizza printer that could be part of space-exploration mission supplies. NASA warns, however, the research could take years before the technology becomes feasible.
- $17.5 million in tax exemptions from the IRS for brothels in Nevada. Coburn says the exemptions were for everything from breast implants to "free passes" deemed part of promotional costs.
- $297 million from the Army for a "mega-blimp." After $300 million and three years in development, the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle project was halted and sold back to the contractor for only $301,000. It had managed only one 90-minute flight over New Jersey.
- $360,000 from NASA to 20 "pillownauts." These folks will spend 70 days lying in bed, tilted slightly downward, but free to play video games and watch TV, and be paid $18,000 each. NASA says the downtime will help in research on weightlessness.
The list goes on and on. While it may lead to a few shakes of the head and bewildered smiles, it should also lead to some serious questions for those handing out, for example, $10,000 so a group of linemen and electrical technicians can choreograph a line dance with bucket trucks, cranes and field trucks, and a set of 20 utility poles, before a live audience.