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Conservatives often see the government as an Orwellian apparatus hungrily devouring our God-given rights. Liberals in power (three of the scariest words ever written) often given them ample reason to think so. But just as often, the government is less a sleek tiger than a bloated pig gorging on everything available, reveling in filth, and unintentionally destroying everything it touches in the process. Republican Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain have revealed how Obama’s stimulus bill is at once dangerous and hapless, disconcerting and idiotic.
Yesterday, I reported that $500,000 of the bill went toward implanting microchips in recycling bins in Dayton, Ohio, to monitor residents’ trash. The senators’ “Summertime Blues” report lists 100 boondoggles underwritten by the taxpayers as part of the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). While some have unnerving undertones, most of the waste uncovered in the 74-page synopsis just shows what a broken and corrupt place Washington is.
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Among the more amusing findings, the report documents how our beloved leaders gave:
- $298,543 to the Southwest Research Institute in Texas to study “atmospheric forecasting of weather and climate on other plants.” Yes, they will tell you the weather on Mars. The scientists insisted this “has great appeal.” We’re waiting with bated breath and our wallets open.
- $712,883 for Northwestern University reserchers to build a robotic comedian. (Has Janeane Garofalo retired?)
- $89,298 to Boynton, Oklahoma, to build a sidewalk that leads to a ditch.
- $144,541 to provide cocaine for Monkeys. Scientists at Wake Forest University will study the coked-up primates to research the “Effect of Cocaine Self-Administration on Metabotropic Glutamate Systems.”
- $200,000 to Toledo, Ohio, to maintain a freighter ship it keeps on display that averages 30 visitors a day (in that tourist paradise of Toledo).
- $253,123 for museum with 44 visitors a year. The North Carolina State Insect Museum will use the money to promote itself and end its Maytag repairman-like life. The first step is a “Insect of the Week” feature on its website, followed by a line of baseball cards with “native and fascinating insects.” Good luck with that, you social butterflies.
- $1 million a year for 19 Los Angeles bus stations to purchase artwork to “enhance the customer experience.”
- $1 million for buy iPod touches for 1,600 high school students in Salt Lake City. They get to keep the devices if they graduate with their class.
- $6 million to build a boutique hotel in Buffalo, New York, “as high-end as they come.” But the local conventions bureau’s former president said they need no more hotel rooms.
- And perhaps most unforgivably — $25,000 for the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
Feeling fleeced yet? You will after you read the report.
Their booklet recounts page upon page of such grants. The beneficiaries’ attempts to explain these pork projects “create jobs” is imaginative fiction, and their claims of having created, e.g., one-quarter of one job here, one-half of one job there, make one wonder how anyone could ever believe Keynesian economics again. The report makes clear, upon a careful reading, the bill destroyed as many jobs as it produced, even in projects that actually hired people. Heaven knows how many jobs this $0.84 trillion confiscation could have generated in the free market, or how much better the average taxpayer’s quality of life would have been if he had some of that money back in his pockets.
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It’s funny about the Left; you have to laugh to keep from crying.