October 16 2012
Menus for Martians: Don't Laugh; You're Paying for Them
Senator Tom Coburn’s annual Waste Book is out and, once again, it shows that we taxpayers are being had.
Here are some of the things for which we paid (from a report by Fox News):
- Though NASA has no plans or budget for any manned spaceflights to Mars, the agency spends about $1 million each year on developing "the Mars menu." It's an effort to come up with a variety of food that humans could eat one day on Mars.
- Nearly $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to a New York-based theater company so it could develop a musical about climate change and biodiversity. "The Great Immensity" opened in Kansas City this year. Along with the songs one reviewer described as sounding like "a Wikipedia entry set to music," the audience was also able to experience "flying monkey poop."
- Though skeptics say there's no such thing as a free cellphone or service funded by the federal government, Coburn's report shows otherwise. It estimates that taxpayers are subsidizing phone service at a cost of nearly $1.5 billion a year. Though the roots of the program can be traced back to an effort in the 1930s to make sure all Americans had access to telecommunications, it has morphed into program that provided free cell service to some 16,500,000 participants last year.
- A $325,000 grant for the development of "Robosquirrel" - a robotic rodent designed to test the interaction between rattlesnakes and squirrels.
All of these expenditures are small potatoes compared to the half billion dollars of our money lost on Solyndra, that failed solar panel business owned by people with connections to the Obama administration.
But both kinds of waste are made possible by the same thing: the government has too much money. Our government collects not too little but too much money. Energy Secretary and model investor Steven Chu, for example, should not have access to hundred of millions of our dollars for his pet green energy projects. Nor should there be money onhand for a musical about biodiversity and climate change.
One example of waste was particularly counterproductive:
- An estimated $70 million loss for producing pennies. According to the Waste Book, "The cost to produce a penny in 2012 is more than two times its actual value." After the pennies are manufactured and sold at face value, taxpayers are left to cover the loss.
So if the people who manufacture these annoying little coins weren’t subsidized they might quit producing pennies?
Sounds like a plan.