Were you aware the federal government funded these things?
Implemented by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to financially support the Civil War, Federal taxes come out of your pocket as soon as you turn 18. You’ll be having a chunk of your change taken from you throughout your lifetime by the government, just like everyone else. And it’s no small amount either.
The Federal Government collects approximately 4.2 trillion dollars per year in income and payroll taxes, making it one of the most valuable sources of revenue for the United States. As we are all adding to that pot it would be good to know what our tax dollars are actually being spent on. Unfortunately, sometimes the answers are not just infuriating, but downright bizarre.
So, what strange things have the Federal Government spent your tax dollars on? Let’s find out as here are some crazy things the Federal Government has funded.
1. Cow Flatulence
Cows do more than just chew grass and moo when they’re out in the field, they produce a LOT of gas. In the United States alone it is estimated that dairy cows produce 212 Mt of CO2e per year or 3.4% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
In order to study this further, the University of New Hampshire was given a whopping $700,000 by the Department of Agriculture to investigate its methane gas emissions. And what conclusion did they come to after spending all that money? Cows emit most of their methane from burping, not farting. Well, that’s good to know.
2. Digitizing The Dead
America has undoubtedly birthed some of the great rock bands of all time. One of those bands that have a devoted fan base is the legendary Grateful Dead. Formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California, they have certainly earned the numerous accolades they have been awarded over the past few decades.
The band wanted an archive for their fans to enjoy and chose the University of California at Santa Cruz as their preferred location. However, they weren’t going to spend any of their own hard-earned cash on the project as the Federal Government stepped in and gave the university $615,000 to digitize photographs, T-shirts, and concert tickets belonging to the band.
3. More Grateful Dead
In the first decade of the 21st century, the federal government had paid nearly $1 billion in disability and retirement to at least 250,000 retired federal employees. And you might think, ‘That’s great, they earned it for their hard work and years of service,’ there’s one slight problem, they are all DEAD! That’s right, an investigation in 2010 found that the Office of Personnel Management has been paying out benefits to dead Federal employees for years.
How is this possible? A report found that the OPM was ‘doing a poor job of tracking potential cheats’. One prime example is a deceased annuitant’s son who continued receiving federal benefits until 2008, around $515,000, 37 years after his father’s death. And the agency only discovered this after the son had passed away. They never got a cent back.
4. World of Warcraft
If you’re a gamer you’re going to wish this was you. If you’re not a gamer you are going to wonder what the hell was the Federal Government thinking. Basically, they paid a lot of money so a bunch of researchers could play video games all day. How much you ask? Around $3 million.
That money went to the University of California at Irvine so they could do ‘video game research’ to study this emerging form of communication. Their conclusion is? Playing video games helps ‘organizations collaborate and compete more effectively in the global marketplace’. So, they spent $3 million of taxpayer money to come to the conclusion ‘playing video games together is fun’.
5. Expensive Head Count
Not many people know that the Constitution requires the national head count every 10 years in the form of a census. It not only helps the government learn more about the average American citizen, but it also helps them decide where federal dollars should be allocated as well as determine the number of U.S. House seats representing each state. So, pretty important, right?
Unfortunately for the Federal Government, a recent poll found nearly 1 in 5 residents said they may not fill them out. So what does the Census Bureau do to get the American people eager to fill out some paperwork? Spend $2.5 million on a 30-second spot to air a commercial that was SO terribly produced, that it was never shown again.
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6. Financing China
Former president Donald J Trump may have ignited a trade war with communist China, but the sad truth is, China lends the US more money than any other foreign nation. The Chinese have close to half of their cash reserves invested in U.S. debt and by the last estimate, they own more than 4 percent of US debt (around $1.1 trillion).
So it seems a little odd that the Federal Government has spent $17.8 million dollars on social and environmental programs for China over the past few years. One of the most bizarre being when they spent $2.6 million on advertising to encourage Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly. Why? We have no idea…..
7. Running Lions
How would you go about trying to find out a mountain lion’s oxygen consumption and energy use? Why throw them on a treadmill, of course? As ridiculous as that sounds, that is precisely what the National Science Foundation did when they gave a staggering $856,000 grant to the University of California-Santa Cruz to do just that.
They studied three captive cougars to compare with data gathered by special collars on mountain lions in the wild to learn more about the power behind the cat’s pounce and other hunting behavior. One slight problem with this methodology, it only took the big cats eight months to be ‘comfortable’ on the treadmill. Money well spent then.
8. Monkey Poop
If you thought mountain lions on treadmills was a bizarre way to study animals, then studying why monkeys throw their poop is likely to be higher on the bizarre scale. Back in 2011, The Yerkes National Primate Research Center was given $592,527 to find out why our hairy cousins use this rather disgusting form of communication.
While the center has studied around 3,400 primates to assist in this most filthy of habits, the conclusion they came to about how this behavior translates as a form of communication was hilarious. The ‘reason’ they concluded that apes are so eager to fling their feces, is simply to get a reaction from the person receiving a face full of crap.
9. Potty Waste
Another incredible waste of money that went to a nation that was NOT the United States was when the Federal Government decided the best way to ‘improve the economic competitiveness of Morocco.’ was to spend $27 million to teach some of their citizens how to create and design pottery to sell in domestic and international markets.
Let’s forget for a moment that Moroccans have been making pottery since at least the fifth century B.C. and instead focus on what a total disaster the program ended up being. Firstly, the American pottery instructor’s instructions did exactly get to the students as the ‘translator’ they had hired was barely able to speak English. An Inspector General report released in December 2011, concluded the ‘pottery training was ineffective, and women and youth were not included.’
10. Phantom Clinics
The proverb “a fool and his money are soon parted” may go back to the 16th century when English poet Thomas Tusser first penned the phrase in his work, but it is not only just as relevant today but on a much grander scale. That is what happened to the Federal Government back in 2010 when a bunch of Armenian gangsters managed to perpetrate the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the history of the Medicare program.
An investigation began when the authorities discovered that 2,900 Medicare patients’ information, as well as those of doctors, had been stolen. The gangsters used these identities to set up 118 phantom clinics in 25 states, using that information to submit fake bills for care that was never given. And boy oh boy were they successful. By the time the scheme was exposed, Medicare had been swindled out of at least $35 million.
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