Happy Festivus to all. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has a lot of problems with the Washington Swamp creatures, and – as he does every year – the senator is going to make sure they hear about it. Paul published the 2022 Festivus report and aired $482 billion worth of wasteful federal curiosities. If the American people thought the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill was full of waste, they would be aghast at the plethora of other taxpayer-funded expenditures throughout the year.
A Rand Paul Festivus
Where do you begin with a 24-page report that uncovers hundreds of billions on some of the most outrageous, egregious, preposterous outlays? Perhaps to get this out of the way, the biggest expenditure over the past year was the $475 billion in interest payments on the national debt. But while this might have been a shocking figure years ago, it no longer leaves anyone gobsmacked.
In Ethiopia, the citizenry apparently needs to be more interested in wearing or paying for shoes, so the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decided to spend $2.1 million over a five-year period to encourage Ethiopians to wear shoes. Perhaps disgruntled that scientists could not force the public to make that transition, researchers decided to allocate more than $1.1 million to a project that gets mice drunk.
But the confusing experiment on mice was no match for the lovebirds at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that granted Cornell University nearly $700,000 to study romance between parrots. The objective was to determine how these birds can be a model for human communication in neuroscience research. There is another story of love and friendship. In fact, it is a tale of pets and children. The NIH sent $187,500 over three years to Kent State University to confirm that kids really do love little fido. Unfortunately, this is where the sentimental feeling over animals ceases as the NIH spent $2.3 million to inject beagle puppies with cocaine. Or how about the more than $3 million to Northeastern University to watch hamsters on steroids fight?
One thing the US government does well is spending taxpayers’ money on others, proving the old Milton Friedman adage. So, for example, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gifted $50 million to the “Visit Tunisia” initiative that encourages more significant tourism to the African nation. USAID also put more than $210 million toward “basic education” programs in Jordan. But the public should not be so concerned because more money was being thrown around domestically, too.
- $1.7 billion to maintain 77,000 empty buildings.
- $168 million to help illegal immigrants avoid deportation.
- $140 million in COVID-19 relief money to build a luxury hotel and spa in Broward County, FL.
- $77 million to subsidize the Staten Island Ferry for free.
- $17 million for empty hotel rooms for immigrants.
- $9 million to make Austin, TX, more beautiful.
- $3 million for a Mahatma Gandhi museum.
If these were not ridiculous enough, the US government spent close to $120,000 to determine if the Thanos villain from Avengers: Infinity War could snap his fingers in real life and end humanity. And then there was just blatant disregard for taxpayer dollars: the General Services Administration (GSA) swindled out of $69 million, the State Department mismanaged $77 million on fuel purchases, and the Department of Defense (DoD) enjoyed $192,592 on espresso machines from Starbucks.
It Pays to be on Welfare
America’s welfare state is expensive, bloated, and wasteful. In fact, this system supports the case for a universal basic income (UBI) if it eliminated all welfare components. So, how bad has this decades-old initiative become? A new study from conservative economists Stephen Moore, E.J. Antoni, and Casey Mulligan learned that typical four-person households, with two non-working adults, can live quite well by leaning on the taxpayers and never heading to work.
The study discovered that a family of four could earn more than $100,000, which is equivalent to cash and benefits in three states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington). In 14 states, payments are equal to roughly $80,000 per year. In 24 states, welfare can yield earnings rivaling that of firefighters, machinists, and truck drivers. Put simply, there is very little incentive to work due to costly and generous safety net schemes.
Authors noted that these funds were topped up during the coronavirus pandemic. But now that these COVID-related programs have expired, recipients can still garner as much as six figures from Uncle Sam, be it from Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies or food stamps.
“If states reduced unemployment insurance maximums and provided more targeted benefits, that would reduce unemployment and the duration for which people remain unemployed,” the report stated. “Likewise, the federal government should, at a bare minimum, roll back the extension of ACA subsidies in an effort to keep premiums from rising further.”
The Rise of Kidults
Fandom is not confined to the digital halls of Reddit, chat rooms, and other web portals. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry, thanks to the rise of so-called kidults (millennials who want to feel nostalgia for their childhood). A new report from CNBC found that adults, many of whom do not have children of their own, account for more than one-quarter of $9 billion in annual toy sales. In addition, more than half of Disney+ subscribers are adults without kids. Jeremy Padawer, the chief brand officer at toy company Jazwares, might have said it best, telling CNBC:
“The definition of adulthood has definitely evolved. What it used to mean, to be an adult, was to be a very upstanding, serious member of society. And to do that you had to demonstrate it intellectually, emotionally, in every other single way. Now we feel a lot more free to express our fandom as a part of our adulthood.”
Talk about regression and abandoning basic adult standards in favor of Star Wars dolls. Then again, can anyone blame these kidults for perpetual escapism at a time when men are blamed, ridiculed, and scapegoated for all the ailments of society? Happy Festivus.
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