Pigeons Playing Slot Machines: Your Tax Money at Work | EDITORIAL

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In the middle of the holiday season, let’s not forget the contribution of Frank Costanza, who popularized the Festivus, the grievance broadcasting ceremony, as an antidote to Christmas commercialism. The mental health benefits of such ventilation are evident, especially during the resurgence of the pandemic.

For Senator Rand Paul, that tradition comes in the form of a December annual report on unnecessary government spending. The Kentucky Republican has taken up the torch of the late Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin who bestowed a monthly Golden Fleece Award from March 1975 to highlight a particularly egregious example of taxpayer abuse, and the late Senator Tom Coburn, R- Okla., who during the Obama administration published an annual Wastebook filled with questionable federal spending.

Senator Paul points out that five years ago, Congress could have balanced the federal budget by cutting a dime for every dollar spent. Now it’s up to five cents, he reports. “You might almost think that the government’s annual New Year’s resolution is to spend more and more money,” writes Senator Paul. “Well it is!”

The varied and creative ways Congress takes your money and ignites it are impressive. And with President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats insisting that the Treasury can print unlimited funds without adverse consequences, the waste will only get worse in the years to come. For now, however, these mistakes should make the blood boil.

■ US taxpayers have been tempered by the lax underwriting standards of the Paycheck Protection Program. According to Senator Paul’s report, the Small Business Administration “sent up to $ 4.29 billion to people who were not eligible to receive loans or who received duplicate loans.” That’s because the agency ignored the Do Not Pay Consolidated Revenue Fund list, which includes problem businesses, including owners who have been convicted of fraud.

■ The federal government’s record on unemployment benefits in the event of a pandemic was even worse. In November 2020, the Inspector General of the Ministry of Labor found that the unemployment insurance program “had already paid up to $ 36 billion in abusive payments from the CARES law alone.” This was nothing new, however. The program has “an inappropriate payment rate greater than 10% for 14 of the past 17 years,” according to the IG report.

■ The Department of Agriculture continues to spend millions each year to ensure that a steady supply of animals can be sacrificed for scientific research. A company has received $ 4.5 million over the past decade to raise ferrets, despite an undercover operation found “ferrets dying in droppings, run over by carts, thrown alive in incinerators (and) hanging on wire, ”notes the Paul report. The government has yet to cancel the contract.

■ The National Science Foundation provided $ 2 million in taxes to a film company to create a film and other media projects about dinosaurs with the goal of attracting more college students in the United States to science, technology, life and education. engineering and mathematics.

■ The National Institutes for Health “awarded Reed College in Portland, Oregon, $ 465,339 to create a token-based economy where pigeons learn to play slot machines,” reports Senator Paul. The researchers explained that the results could be used to study “behavioral economics” in humans.

■ The National Science Foundation gave Boston affiliate PBS $ 2.85 million to produce three shows exploring “the dramatic seasonal changes of spring”. Never mind that National Geographic already has a similar compilation – privately funded, by the way. Senator Paul’s report describes the PBS debacle as “three hours of screen time on an experience most people can have just getting out of their homes.”

■ In fiscal 2019, the Social Security Administration overpaid beneficiaries by $ 4.2 billion and is unlikely to recover much of the loss. Managers blamed a glitch in their computer system, but admitted that the administration completely removed information about $ 1.2 billion in overpayments.

In total, Senator Rand’s Festivus 2021 report sheds light on nearly $ 53 billion in questionable federal spending, likely just a glimpse of the overall waste. Yet there is still plenty of ammunition for American taxpayers eager to voice their grievances over a federal government that apparently does not recognize any tax borders.


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