Just in time for Thanksgiving, Senator Rand Paul has released his latest waste report – serving up a heaping helping of government waste.
$230 million worth.
Let’s dig into to see what he’s found.
Perhaps the strangest entry in the report is the State Department spending $84,000 to purchase a wrought iron structure created by Bob Dylan (yes, that Bob Dylan). The artwork is displayed at the United States Embassy in Mozambique. This purchase was approved as part of the Arts in Embassies program that allots a half percent of an embassy’s construction budget for art work.
A former State Department employee points out that Mozambique ranks 180 out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index – a problem that will not be alleviated by a wrought iron sculpture created by a famous American singer-songwriter. Nor will the American taxpayers be happy to be paying for this costly piece of art when our budget is tangled up in red.
The largest example of taxpayer waste in the Fall Edition of the Waste Report is the $153 million that the federal government spends subsidizing the DC metro system – a system that is poorly performing and hitting twenty year ridership lows. Given these circumstances, it’s even harder to stomach seeing that money going towards items of dubious merit.
For example, the DC metro system spent at least $500,000 to maintain a self-cleaning toilet (the total figure is unknown because the metro lost the invoices for several years). Over the last two years, the toilet has been been unusable, sitting in disrepair. The DC metro system has also spent lavishly on public relations – including a new #backtogood campaign that will cost $400,000.
Two Afghanistan-related expenditures also made the latest edition of the Waste Report. The State Department spent $300,000 to sponsor debate and model UN performances in Afghanistan. The catch, these are performed in English, a language only spoken by 6% of the country.
For Afghanis looking to learn it, they probably aren’t going to get much help from the other waste example in the report – the $33 million Afghan Children Read program that spent money on error-riddled textbooks that are deteriorating in a warehouse. A government watchdog found several “book quality deficiencies, such as loose or blank pages, misspellings, and low quality paper.” They also found “five storage facilities held about 154,000 textbooks.” Given their quality, maybe it’s better that they are in warehouses instead of in classrooms?
The Paul Waste Report also highlights a $4.6 million National Institute of Health (NIH) study that examines the linkages between alcohol use and injuries. To the surprise of exactly no one, NIH found a link between higher alcohol consuming countries and alcohol related injury rates. Maybe someone should have directed them to some “hold my beer” videos and saved us a few million.
To check out more examples of government waste, including cheesy spending in Europe, Egyptian education initiatives, and nicotine addicted Zebrafish, you can check out the full report here.