Watchdog Names the Most Ridiculous Government Expenses

Federal spending spirals out of control – as Washington bureaucrats squander our tax dollars on slots that play pigeons and zombies cats.

Four months after the U.S. national debt crossed the $30 trillion mark for the first time in history, a new report from the Illinois-based nonprofit American Transparency details some of the silly, fraudulent, and frivolous federal projects that are driving us into an economic groove.

“The federal government isn’t just wasting your money. They literally rip you off,” says Adam Andrzejewski, the group’s founder. “They’re milking taxpayers like dairy cows.”

Andrzejewski pointed to a March report from the Government Accountability Office that amounted to $281 billion in improper and erroneous payments in 2021 alone — without even trying to count the billions wasted on fraud-ridden COVID utilities.

“Which government program is going well?” he asked.

In their annual “Where’s the Pork?” Andrzejewski and his team of tax analysts report the figures on exorbitant discretionary spending that have come to light over the past two years. Here’s just part of what they found.

Pigeons Slots

Cost: $465,339

The National Institute of Health sent nearly half a million dollars to a university to create a pigeon casino.
The National Institute of Health sent nearly half a million dollars to a university to create a pigeon casino.
Ny Post photo illustration

Taxpayers are rolling the dice in a high-stakes study that aims to unravel the psychology of gambling addiction — by building a casino for pigeons. The National Institute of Health has sent nearly half a million dollars to the very liberal Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where it will take researchers three years to create a “miniature self-contained economy” for the school’s flock of birds. The pigeons receive coin-like tokens that they can “earn, collect, spend or gamble” on slot machines, explained Dr. Timothy Hackenberg in the project summary. But even he admits that there are few “practical uses” of his work. Presumably, the dazzling budget is needed to pay for all the free rooms, free drinks, and tiny uniforms for feathered cocktail waitresses.

Fake Farms

Cost: $7 million

Dizzy, partner, and collect some COVID money! The pandemic was a treasure trove of wasteful federal spending. Example: A single credit processing company sent about $7 million worth of Paycheck Protection Program checks to imaginary farms in impossible places, a ProPublica study found. Scammers successfully claimed that tiny Beach Haven, NJ, a vacation resort of bungalows and marinas just north of Atlantic City, was home to haunted farming operations like the Beefy King cattle ranch and the Deely Nuts tree nut ranch. “There’s no farming here,” Joe Mancini, the local mayor, told the watchdog group. “We’re a sandbar, for God’s sake.” According to the fraudulent documents, the ranch operated at Mancini’s home address – where he keeps three dogs, he said, but no cows.

The National Science Foundation has spent a pretty penny on lizard catching.
The National Science Foundation has spent a pretty penny on lizard catching.
Colin Donihue via AP

Leapin’ Lizards

Cost: $75,000

Harvard biologists turned a leaf blower, wooden pole and Caribbean lizard lounge into a $75,000 payday. The National Science Foundation, concerned about the worsening of climate change-induced hurricanes, paid researchers to capture 47 anole lizards in the Turks and Caicos Islands and then blow the animals up with leaf blowers. The scientists filmed the critters hanging from their sticks for their lives at wind speeds of up to 210 mph — and continued to record as they flew. The experiment produced hilarious YouTube footage, plus a theory that bigger-toes help lizards survive hurricane-force winds.

A Florida lab plans to turn male monkeys into females using hormones.
A Florida lab plans to turn male monkeys into females using hormones.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Transgender Monkeys

Cost: $477,121

A Florida lab doses male rhesus monkeys with feminizing hormones — with the intent of making them trans. The experiment, funded by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, aims to find out why male-to-female transgender people have high levels of HIV infection. “HIV/AIDS thrives on the margins of society,” reads the uber-woke project description. “No population is more affected by these social injustices than transgender people.” The scientists suspect that estradiol, the hormone usually given to transgender women, can weaken the immune system. Next step: drag Monkey Story Hour to your local library.

cow monitoring

Cost: $45,000

National Science Foundation and the DigitalGlobe Foundation have funded a satellite ranching project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
National Science Foundation and the DigitalGlobe Foundation have funded a satellite ranching project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Maxar Technologies through UC Santa B

Where’s the meat? Check the satellite feed. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the DigitalGlobe Foundation, students at the University of California Santa Barbara spent eight months looking at satellite images of cows in a project that studied the interactions between livestock and wildlife. Udder confused students were asked to find out how cows at Point Reyes National Seashore could coexist with native tule moose without bumping heads. “Watching cows from space — not your typical student research,” admitted ecologist Doug McCauley, who led the project.

Star-studded COVID handouts

Cost: $14 million

Robert Redford's Sundance Institute received more than $3 million in COVID loans.
Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute received more than $3 million in COVID loans.
AFP via Getty Images

Thanks to Uncle Sam, the rich have gotten richer during the coronavirus pandemic. Bold names like Kanye West, Robert Redford and Francis Ford Coppola collected a lot of money from the COVID tool for Paycheck Protection in 2020. West, who now has a net worth of approximately $6.6 billion, received $2.4 million for Yeezy, LLC, his famous sneaker company, which was valued at $2.9 billion at the time. Meanwhile, $3.04 million in loans went to Redford’s Sundance Institute. Two of Coppola’s companies, Francis Ford Coppola LLC and Niebaum Coppola Estate Winery, LP, together received $8.5 million. The PPP program was created to help businesses survive and keep inactive workers off the unemployment list, but for wealthy celebrities, the forgivable loans didn’t pay a dime.

“Zombie” Russian cats

Cost: $549,331

Creepy experiments in a Russian lab turned cute kitties into electrically controlled zombies – with the help of the US government. Researchers at the Pavlov Institute of Physiology in St. Petersburg, Russia, were paid by the US National Institutes of Health to “decerebrate” 18 healthy cats and cut their brain stems to prevent movement and keep them alive. The creepy scientists then used electrical charges to run the cats on treadmills and turned them into the walking cat dead. Congressional Republicans exploded with President Biden when news of the “cruel and wasteful” tests leaked out earlier this year, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine. “Our foreign adversaries, especially those led by tyrants, should not be allowed US tax dollars to conduct horrific animal research,” they wrote in a March 10 letter to the president.

One of the less elegant sources of federal spending in animal feces research.
One of the less elegant sources of federal spending in animal feces research.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cowa-Dung-a

Cost: $556,584

A foul-smelling study funded primarily by the National Science Foundation measured animal feces to test “a mathematical model of feces.” Researchers recorded images of pandas, elephants, warthogs and more in their most private moments, then examined and weighed stools, took notes on stool size and shape, and recorded stool duration. The crappy study collected poop samples from 43 species at Zoo Atlanta, university animal facilities and farms. The “deathy” of the scientists: discovering new non-invasive methods for diagnosing animal diseases. If you’ve ever wondered how much dung a lion produces each day (less than a pound, it turns out), your tax dollars are well spent.

The government dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the failed NSA parking garage.
The government dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the failed NSA parking garage.
AFP via Getty Images

NSA’s never-used garage

Cost: $3.6 million

The National Security Agency may be America’s largest intelligence-gathering organization, but it lacks the ingenuity to build a functional parking lot for employees. A blistering 2021 inspector general report shamed the agency for wasting $3.6 million on a hastily built modular parking deck on its Ft. Mead, Maryland headquarters. The completed garage, intended for 250 vehicles, contained just 87, costing $34,000 per spot, the IG calculated. Even worse, the European designers of the structure did not take into account the size and weight of American cars. After a year of safety testing, the agency admitted that the garage was too flimsy to use. The NSA paid $500,000 to demolish the structure — which never welcomed a single employee vehicle — in 2019.

The National Cancer Institute funded a toilet camera development project.
The National Cancer Institute funded a toilet camera development project.
Gambhir et al/Nature

Toilet cameras

Cost: $6.97 million

It’s over, doctor? Scientists at Stanford University used nearly $7 million in funds from the National Cancer Institute to build an artificially intelligent toilet system that films the user’s lower echelons. Like your fingerprint, the researchers claim, your derriere has up to 37 unique folds that create an individually identifiable “anal print.” The toilet’s internal cameras and computers analyze the user’s urine flow, track time spent on the bowl, and evaluate stools to gauge the owner’s overall health. The data is regularly uploaded to a secure one hopes internet cloud. However, the Stanford team acknowledges, “To fully reap the benefits of the smart toilet, users must make peace with a camera that scans their anus.”

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