May 26 2011
I hate Duke.
I especially hate Duke basketball.
That's because I'm a Tar Heels fan.
(Although let's face it, a variety of people hate Duke, even if they don't pull for the Heels.)
But I'm also a taxpayer, and today I read this lead in the online Oklahoman:
WASHINGTON - The federal agency in charge of funding scientific research spent $80,000 on a study about why the same teams dominate the college basketball tournament, while staff members spent taxpayer money on romantic trips and held a Jell-O wrestling event at the South Pole, according to a report released Thursday by Sen. Tom Coburn.
I can ignore the Jell-O wrestling for a moment. March Madness is of much greater importance to me. Turns out, that $80,000 study on athletic excellence was performed by Duke University.
Let me tell you why the same teams dominate the NCAA tournament: great coaches like Roy Williams.
Okay, I know I'm simplifying things here, and I know research is important, but for goodness sake, 80,000 dollars on this project? Now? And not just any kind of dollars... taxpayer dollars. If you were really interested in researching this topic, could you please do your own fundraising?
I'm horrified to think that my hard-earned money is being collected from me and redistributed to Duke for a study on "why the same teams dominate March Madness." Yet this is the way big government works. Just as in basketball, there are winners and losers. I pay the taxes, but I don't get to decide who gets a million dollars here, a billion dollars there...
Here's more from the Oklahoman article about the Coburn report:
The National Science Foundation has an annual budget of nearly $7 billion and funds about 20 percent of all federally-supported basic research conducted by United States colleges and universities, according to the report.
Coburn says the report identifies $1.2 billion in waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement. Here are some of the examples of research criticized in the report:
_ An $80,000 study at Duke University on why the same teams always dominate March Madness.
_ A $315,000 study at Michigan State University about how playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships.
_ A $1 million study on trendy baby names at Indiana University and New York University.
_ Grant money totaling $1.4 million for a Carnegie Mellon University study of regional slang on Twitter.
_ A $581,000 at the University of California at Berkeley on racial preferences in online dating.
This stuff would be embarrassing even if we didn't have $14 trillion in national debt.
Anyway... Duke should focus on studying up for the 2012 season. Yep, I said it.