Spending in America: The Unfunny Story of Where Some of it is Going


In the recent debt deal, there was plenty of debate from pundits and voters about the need — or lack of need — for more taxation. But one thing almost everyone seemed to agree on — politicians included — was that the U.S. simply must start cutting its spending. The Heritage Foundation has an interesting post showing some places we could likely start:

Late-night comedian Conan O’Brien’s blog has a new post parodying Washington’s excessive spending. “Team Coco has found out why our government is so broke,” the blog explains, “They’ve been spending all our hard earned tax dollars on some pretty ridiculous programs.” The post contains a list of humorous fake programs and encourages readers submit their own.

But sadly, there’s no need to turn to a crack team of comedy writers to gin up examples of ridiculous government spending. Instead, one need only look to the shenanigans on Capitol Hill to find a list of absurd expenditures of taxpayer dollars. As Heritage has reported, in addition to long-term, substantive reforms, $343 billion of wasteful government spending could be cut immediately. And while Conan’s list is populated by a number of outlandish (but fake) programs, there are plenty of REAL government programs that are just as ridiculous. Conan, try these on for size:

  • Washington will spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.
  • Because of overstaffing, the U.S. Postal Service selects 1,125 employees per day to sit in empty rooms. They are not allowed to work, read, play cards, watch television, or do anything. This costs $50 million annually.
  • Stimulus dollars have been spent on mascot costumes, electric golf carts, and a university study examining how much alcohol college freshmen women require before agreeing to casual sex.
  • Washington will spend $615,175 on an archive honoring the Grateful Dead.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission spent $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
  • Congress recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737.
  • Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties.
  • The Federal Communications Commission spent $350,000 to sponsor NASCAR driver David Gilliland.
  • Washington has spent $3 billion re-sanding beaches—even as this new sand washes back into the ocean.
  • Taxpayers are funding paintings of high-ranking government officials at a cost of up to $50,000 apiece.
  • The Conservation Reserve program pays farmers $2 billion annually not to farm their land.

And the list goes on and on. When it comes to government spending, the truth is often stranger than fiction.

One thought on “Spending in America: The Unfunny Story of Where Some of it is Going

  1. I mean, if you’re going to spend upwards of $600,000 on an archive honoring a band – why NOT the Grateful Dead? Oh goodness…are we sure these aren’t part of Conan’s list??

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