$52 Million For Chimp Housing, and Other Dumb Stuff the Government's Funding

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Right on cue, Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford released his annual "Federal Fumbles" report this week, a compilation of all the ways the bloated fedora government has totally wasted our hard-earned tax dollars that would be hilarious if it weren't so depressing.

Ready the have your Tuesday completely ruined? Here are just a few of the most ridiculous.


1. Another $2.6 million on chimp housing. On top of the other $50 million we already spent.

Making sure a few chimps live in style is apparently more important than solving America’s urban homeless crisis, because that's what we’re dumping buckets of money into.

Since 2000, the NIH has spent more than $52 million to support the Chimpanzee Biomedical Research Resource, now called the National Center for Chimpanzee Care (NCCC). The NCCC is now home to the NIH’s 139 chimpanzees that were previously used for biomedical research.

Despite the announcement that research would no longer be conducted, the NIH provided $2.6 million in both 2015 and 2016 to operate the NCCC, which is more than the $2.5 million provided in 2000. The $2.6 million annual funding for 139 chimpanzees translates to roughly $18,700 per chimp per year, meaning it would likely be cheaper to enroll all 139 chimpanzees in college since that amount would more than pay for tuition, room, and board in many state universities.


2. Studying the stickleback fish that you’ve never heard of.

Since 2003, the feds have also spent more than $2.6 million over several different grants to study how the stickleback fish adapts to different environments. Literally, that’s it. That’s the whole thing.


3. Electronic puppets.

The NEH forked over $74,851 for a university to create electronic puppets.

Earlier this year, the NEH provided $74,851 for a university to utilize 3-D technology to create electronic versions of puppets so viewers can “manipulate and ‘play,’ through game-like technology, with a puppet or other performative object held in a digital archive.” The funding will be used to scan up to 15 puppets into a system that will enable viewers to control puppet functions and facial expressions either on a desktop computer or virtual reality device

ELECTRONIC PUPPETS.


4. Dog Hamlet

Fresh out of halfway understandable things at which to chuck taxpayer cash, the NEA poured $30,000 into a play with dogs.

Doggie Hamlet actually includes humans yelling or running toward very confused sheep and dogs. The production, which does not include any actual lines from Hamlet, is conducted outdoors in a 30-by-50-foot field in New Hampshire. The play is described as “a beautiful and dreamlike spectacle weaving instinct, mystery, and movement into an unusual performance event.”


5. Migratory studies for other countries.

The feds shelled out another $40,000 in American taxpayer dollars to study how Syrian refugees adapted to their new lives in Iceland – at the request of the Icelandic government.


6. A birthday party for John Adams. No, the other John Adams.

The National Endowment For the Arts shucked out $85k for a birthday celebration for composer and Grammy Award winner John Adams (a.k.a., not America's second president).

To celebrate his 70th birthday, the San Francisco Symphony was awarded $85,000 from the NEA for a project featuring several of Adams’s recent works with musical guests that included the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

Funny, I don’t remember getting a ticket for that front-row seat I apparently paid for.


7. Preserving obscure native languages you've never heard in other countries you've never been to.

While schoolchildren in America’s education system can barely speak proper English, we’re busy paying to study obscure dialects in other countries that you’ve probably never heard of.

Earlier in 2017, the NSF approved $150,382 to document the Domaaki language of Northern Pakistan. In March 2017, the NSF gave $203,424 to study the grammar and tone of the Seenku language from the west African country of Burkina Faso. In 2016, the NSF funded another project in northern Pakistan for researchers “to describe the sound system of [the language of] Kalasha.” In 2015, the NSF provided $347,466 to study four languages in New Guinea. A four-year grant that concluded in 2016 spent $408,520 to study the languages spoken in Nepal’s Manang district.

And we’re paying for this…why, again?


8. Building prisons in Afghanistan.

Apparently, American taxpayers forked out the cash to pay for a prison in Afghanistan – one that doesn’t even work.

In our multi-billion dollar effort to assist the Afghan people, we have even inadvertently assisted them in building or rebuilding prisons. American taxpayers paid $11.3 million through the Department of State in 2010 and 2013 to build a prison in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province to house 495 inmates. Due to contractor error and lack of oversight, the prison is still not fully operational.


9. Studying weight loss options for old people.

Can’t afford that treadmill you’ve had your eye on? That’s because all your cash is going to a $2.3 million study into whether elderly people should do aerobics or strength training to lose weight.

Not a program designed for seniors -- just the study.

For a longer and healthier life, it is important for senior adults to remain active and exercise. In case that was not already known by all, the NIH has spent more than $2.3 million over eight years to determine whether resistance training, aerobics, or a combination of the two causes the most weight loss for senior adults.


10. An Oregon summer camp for climate change artists.

Last summer, the NEA shelled out a $20,000 grant for a “camp for ‘artists and scientists investigating the issues surrounding climate change’” in Oregon, the report notes.

Located in southern Oregon next to Summer Lake, the camp offers itself as a place for artists and scientists to “react and to engage their work through its residency program.”


11. Lost weapons.

The feds also admit they lost more than $1 billion in weapons and military vehicles that was supposed to be handed over to U.S.-backed Iraqi forces between FY2015 and FY2016.

The equipment, which was to be transferred through the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) created in 2015, could not be tracked because the Army “did not have effective controls to maintain complete visibility and accountability of ITEF equipment in Kuwait and Iraq prior to transfer to the government of Iraq.” So while the DOD is able to show that the equipment made it to the region, it cannot show that it was actually transferred to Iraqi forces.

It would be understandable if the DOD occasionally misplaced a Humvee tire or a toolbox. However, to not be able to fully account for more than $1 billion in equipment that includes guns and entire Humvees is unacceptable and a national security risk.


12. Congressmen’s mail.

We’re studying inter-office congressional mail. As in, letters.

In Congress, it is common practice for one Member to send a Dear Colleague letter to certain Members or all of their colleagues to encourage support for a legislative issue, inform them of ongoing investigations, or provide information on some important matter. Now, the NSF has spent more than $300,000 to study their effect.


13. Finding Mexican flowers.

It’s imperative to the U.S. government that we locate and map out Mexican vegitation – so imperative, actually, that they’ll spend nearly half a million of our dollars trying to figure it out.

The NSF funded a $475,142 grant to create “an extensive digital database of recordings of native experts discussing traditional nomenclature and classification of local flora.” Specifically, the grantees want to find out whether they are able to use indigenous languages in Mexico to identify changes over time in the location of plant life.


14. A $1 billion trolley.

And you thought plane tickets were expensive these days? Not nearly as pricey as San Diego’s trolley system, which clocks in at about $100 million a mile.

Late in 2016, the DOT announced a $1.04 billion grant to expand the San Diego trolley service by 10.9 miles. This project, coming in at just under $100 million a mile, is expected to become operational in 2021.

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