The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution states that the role of the federal government is to “form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Not listed among those duties is the role of spending gobs of taxpayer dollars on stupid junk.
Nevertheless, the National Science Foundation recently pledged $600,000 public dollars to Brown University to study facial muscles in fish.
Here’s how it works. The researchers behind the grant proposal assert the following:
Most fish capture food by sucking it into their mouths, and successful suction feeding is both fast and forceful. Speed and force combined require high power from muscles, but where does all of that muscle power come from? Fish head muscles are small, but the body muscles are large. Do fish transfer power from their bodies to their heads, similar to the way baseball pitchers transfer power from their legs and core to their throwing arms?
...A recent study of largemouth bass showed that axial muscles provide more than 95% of the power for high-performance suction feeding, but these results so far come from just one species. Might axial muscles be the main source of suction power in most fishes?
The NSF then forks out $608,095 in publicly funded grant money to figure out the answer to these clearly crucial questions. (To date, about $467,000 of that has already been paid.)
Look, maybe some people love fish face muscles. And that's completely okay. I’m not saying that studying fish face muscles is a bad thing, just because it’s not my thing.
But should taxpayer dollars be going to fund these studies? Does spending more than half a million in public money to study the axial features of a largemouth bass “promote the general Welfare?" Or "secure the blessings of Liberty?"
I’m willing to err on the side of “no.” (FYI, there are about a zillion other grants just like this one, spending tons of cash. Here's a link to just one week's worth from the NSF.)
Meanwhile, as the United States government was shucking out half-a-mil to study fish faces and debating whether the American people are paying enough taxes, just under 40,000 veterans were homeless on any given night in America, while another 1.4 million are at risk of homeless due to poverty or substandard living conditions.
But fish faces should definitely come first.