Wastebook: 7 Ridiculous Ways The Feds Blew Your Tax Dollars Last Year
Bre Payton
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The feds spent millions last year putting college students into fat suits, filming monkeys running on a treadmill, and attempting to get hipsters to quit smoking. Those projects are only three of 100 ways the federal government wasted your tax dollars, which are detailed in Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Arizona) 286-page report, entitled “Wastebook: The Farce Awakens.”

Though Flake’s report has a unique Star Wars-themed flair, the Wastebook falls in line with now-retired Sen. Tom Coburn’s tradition of releasing an annual list of the feds’ worst spending offenses.

Behold: Here are the seven most ridiculous ways your tax dollars were put to work.

1. $1 Million To Film Monkeys In Hamster Balls On Treadmills

The National Institutes of Health paid researchers $1 million to train a dozen monkeys to run on a treadmill in a hamster ball. The study, aptly titled “Take The Monkeys And Run,” sought to find a non-stressful way to exercise the monkeys while they’re in captivity.

Watch this little guy go!

2. $17,000 to Get Students to Wear Fat Suits

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave a New Mexico State University professor a $17,500 grant to get a group of students to wear 20-pound fat suits for 12 hours straight so they would be more sensitive to overweight people.

“Individuals can experience some of the physical, social, and even psychological aspects of being overweight,” said NMSU professor Devon Golem. “Perhaps walking a mile in someone else’s weight will help change negative beliefs and attitudes.”

Apparently old-fashioned empathy just isn’t good enough anymore. We now have to physically recreate other people’s burdens to learn how to treat them with respect.

3. $2.1 Million to Encourage Tourism in Lebanon

United States Agency for International Development spent more than $2 million to fund two five-year programs to revitalize rural tourism in Lebanon. The program continues despite the State Department warning U.S. citizens against visiting the country, as it is considered a dangerous hotbed for terror activity. That’s government logic for you.

4. $5 Million to ‘Help A Hipster’ Quit Smoking

NIH has shelled out $5 million since 2011 to get hipsters to quit smoking. They were afraid that informing hipsters of the health risks associated with smoking wouldn’t get them to stop filling their lungs with carcinogenic fumes, so they figured that throwing “exclusive” parties at night clubs and hosting concerts would be an effective way to help them “take a stand” against Big Tobacco.

Another aspect of the taxpayer-funded program was to bribe hipsters into quitting and offer prize money to those who came up with the most creative, locally benefiting way to use the money they ordinarily spent on their cigarette habit.

“Quit tobacco, support local, join the commune,” the girl in the video promoting the cash prize pleads. The feds totally get hipsters. Just take a look at these lyrics sung in the background of the video:

In the beard of a barista, and the flower crown in her hair
Lies the photos and the music, the local art wafts through the air
Fixing fixies with tatted fingers, dipped in whisky and craft beer
You can help a hipster, by quitting smoking cigs this year

So hipster. Much wow.

5. $119 Million to Prop Up the Tobacco Industry

Despite all of the cash other arms of the federal government are spending to get Americans to quit smoking, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent over $119 million shelling out income subsidies to tobacco growers. Not only did USDA hand out $69 million in income supplements to growers, but they spent over $380,000 to administer the payments.

Ironically, taxpayers shell out about $90 billion a year to treat all of the illnesses caused by smoking, so it totally makes sense that the government would continue to prop up an industry that already costs taxpayers an arm and a leg.

6. $1.2 Million to Build a Life-Size Pac-Man Game

The National Science Foundation spent $1.2 million to construct a life-sized Pac-Man game in order to encourage kids to be more physically active.

Yes, what looks like kids decked out in multicolored vests while carrying rubber balls around basketball court really cost taxpayers $1.2 million last year.

7. $780,000 to See If Pizza Was Really as Addicting as Crack

The National Institute of Drug Abuse spent nearly $800,000 to study how college students consumed and ate pizza to determine if it was as addicting as a narcotic drug. The government paid students $20 to be quizzed about their eating habits, or they could earn college credit for filling out a few questionnaires.

In the end, the government found that pizza is not the most addicting food after all, as French fries and chocolate ice cream were ranked more addictive among the student participants. Glad we got that settled.

Bre Payton is a staff writer at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter.
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