Take a journey with us along the 12 Days of Waste as we explore a dozen reasons reasons Uncle Sam was naughty this year. If nothing is done to curb Washington’s yearly indulgences, the American people could soon end up with coal in their stockings.
1. Boosting Sales for Uncle Sam’s “Special” Trees – $50,000
For most, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas tree. A tradition for many families, who don’t need a Christmas tree ad to remind them. But that didn’t stop Uncle Sam from giving the Georgia Christmas Tree Association $50,000 to boost Christmas tree sales! According to Senator Rand Paul’s waste report, the association boosted sales by “implementing a 30 second cable TV ad that [ran] for four days over the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Thanksgiving weekends.” Georgia, and other states received funding for Christmas trees because it falls under the USDA’s definition of a “specialty” crop. However, with 30 million trees sold every year, this is hardly a cause that’s worthwhile this holiday.
2. Extra Presents for a Museum in Southeast Asia – $474,794
Christmas gifts will come late for folks in Southeast Asia as they get set to welcome the U.S.-Thai Royal Gifts Exhibition in March. The exhibit will chronicle “over 200 years of diplomatic gifts and bilateral relations between the two nations.” All phases of development for the exhibition, research, planning, and development, will cost taxpayers a whopping $474,794. The opening of the exhibition is intended to be a “spectacular affair” with members of the Thai government, Royal Household, notable cultural and business leaders, and U.S. museum leaders attending.
3. NASA: Reaching New Heights With Comic Books – $12,000
If your child dreams of being an astronaut someday, perhaps they should follow NASA’s lead and start reading comic books! The folks over at NASA Japan ordered $12,000 worth of “manga comic books,” which are popular in Asia. NASA’s Vision Statement is, “We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.” Hopefully they will tell us the benefit of comic books soon…being an astronaut may be easier than we thought!
4. Good Morning LEGO Club Vietnam! – $104,958
The Holidays wouldn’t be complete without a little one playing with new LEGOs, and the Federal Government wants to play too! This year, the State Department gave the LEGO Mindstorms Club at the University of Science in Vietnam a $4,860 grant to increase interest in robotics. The LEGO Mindstorms Club is a club that specializes using legos and other toys to develop robotics skills. LEGOs have actually been quite popular in the Federal bureaucracy, as another grant was given to the University of North Texas to leverage LEGO as a tangible way to “improve student learning and engagement in undergraduate software engineering education.”
5. Rudolph Caught in the Crosshairs – $50,000
Santa’s reindeer may help him fly his sleigh, but reindeer meat is also quite popular to eat. Alaska has about 30,000 reindeer in the state, and has a large demand for reindeer meat around the country, not just during the holidays, but year round. However, that didn’t stop the USDA from awarding a $50,000 grant to “study the feasibility of large-scale, commercial reindeer herding.” According to Senator Flake’s Wastebook, the initiative duplicates the existing Reindeer Herding Association’s mission and failed to see that there is already a high demand for the product.
6. Documenting Santa’s Reindeer – $48,040
Rudolph isn’t the only one missing out on reindeer games, but taxpayers too must sit on the sidelines. This year, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks was granted almost $50,000 to document the reindeer herding history of the Bering Straits. According to the National Park Service, the “information gathered will illuminate early 20th century reindeer herding patterns, highlight the daily practices of reindeer herding in Alaska, and explore the extent to which Alaska herding traditions were adopted from Chukchi herding practices.”
7. Paranormal Activity is Coming to Town – $149,927
Since the television show ‘Stranger Things’ hit Netflix, more and more people are jumping on the paranormal activity bandwagon, and the government is following suit. The National Park Service is spending almost $150,000 on researching mythical creatures like Bigfoot, Nessie, and invisible sea birds. The Kaweraks Social Science Program, who received the grant, says the objective is to document “knowledge about, experiences with, and beliefs about supernatural phenomenon.” We can only imagine Santa Claus and his elves must be next on the list…
8. Tokyo Embassy Has A Sweet Tooth – $11,445
Last Christmas we gave the State Department our money, but they gave it away to the Tokyo Embassy to spend on candy. Talk about a WHAM! The Embassy purchased almost $12,000 worth of See’s Candies Almond Royals, which are almonds covered in “rich, chewy chocolate caramel made from premium Dutch cocoa.” According to See’s website, 1lb of these chewy delights costs $19.90, that means the embassy received over 575 POUNDS of Almond Royals!
9. #FoodSelfie! – $174,792
Do you have a family member or friend that will probably take a picture of his or her meal before they eat it this holiday season? The National Science Foundation is too! According to The Washington Free Beacon, the agency is “spending roughly $175,000 on an anti-obesity study that involves taking pictures of food before obese people consume it.” The study hopes to help individuals recognize the less healthful behaviors of food.
10. Jeeves, Would You Be a Dear and Pick Me Up Some Caviar and Truffles? – $86,210
If you’re one of the lucky ones who made it to a fancy Christmas party this year, you may come across a couple high class items like caviar and truffles. Known for being some of the most expensive food items in the world, the federal government nevertheless is subsidizing both. According to Senator Jeff Fake’s Wastebook, the USDA is spending $86,000 on the luxury foods, $34,210 was awarded to a truffle farm in Delaware through the specialty crop block grant, and $52,000 was awarded to the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior to study products including caviar, that sells there for $8 a pound. Hopefully the USDA’s Christmas party isn’t as luxurious as their spending!
11. Blue(s) Christmas in Bosnia – $8,285
With over 79 recording since 1978, “Blue Christmas” is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever recorded. The most popular version though is Elvis Presley’s, bringing country and blues into the Christmas music scene. That could be why the State Department is funding a blues and rock festival in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A $8,285 grant was awarded to the festival that brought U.S. artists to the country to celebrate blues and its origins. It’s safe to say that taxpayers will have a blue Christmas after hearing about this!
12. More Cowbell at the Birthday Party – $85,000
A composer named John Adams received his Christmas present from taxpayers a little early this year. Celebrating his 70th birthday, the Grammy winner and Harvard graduate had a three-week birthday celebration thrown by the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. The $85,000 grant awarded to the symphony by the National Endowment of the Arts featured John Adams himself as well as other musical guests. The symphony, boasting over 10,000 donors could have easily afforded this celebration on their own. John Adams thanks you, gracious taxpayers, for your holiday spirit.
We hope you enjoyed this year’s 12 Days of Waste. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.