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Tipsheet

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: Rand Paul Releases His 2022 Festivus Report

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) kept up his holiday tradition of releasing an annual "Festivus Report" on Friday, shining a light on the ways in which the federal government wasted Americans' hard-earned tax dollars on frivolous, woke, and absurd projects during the year. 

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In his 2022 issue of the Festivus Report, Paul logged $482,276,543,907 worth of wasteful spending, "including a steroid-induced hamster fight club, a study to see if kids love their pets, and a study of the romantic patterns of parrots." Yes, really. "No matter how much money’s already been wasted, politicians keep demanding even more," Paul noted in this year's report. 

Among the government's gripe-worthy fiscal escapades outlined by Senator Paul was the Department of Defense's $28 million payment for "forest-patterned 'camouflage' uniforms" for use in Afghanistan. While that might seem like a fair use of tax dollars, there was a problem: the camouflage uniforms were "not based on an evaluation of its appropriateness for the Afghan environment." That is, you could clearly see the uniforms and whoever was wearing them against the Afghan backdrop. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction was blunt in his report that included the not- camouflage waste: it was a "dumb decision."

In other clearly inane uses of taxpayer dollars, the General Services Administration spends more than $1.7 billion per year for the upkeep of more than 75,000 empty buildings. Thanks to federal bureaucracy, the government is not allowed to just sell a building once it no longer needs to use it, and instead has to run through a list of other parties who are eligible to take over and use the building, but that doesn't always happen. So, Americans who are struggling to make ends meet amid soaring inflation are also being forced to foot the bill for the U.S. government to maintain empty, unused buildings.

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In one of the more wacky items in the 2022 Festivus Report, it turns out that the National Institutes of Health spent more than $3 million this year — and every year going back to 1996 — to pump hamsters full of steroids in order to study "whether current drugs for aggressive youth suppress steroid-induced aggression" at Northeastern University. Rodent roid rage research is, apparently, a long-running and expensive venture funded by our tax dollars.

In the household pet-turned lab rat column, Paul also noted that the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse spent $2.3 million to inject beagle puppies with cocaine in the same lab that previously received $13.5 million to inject monkeys with ebola and tuberculosis. Whatever the government's obsession is with forcibly getting animals high, it's certainly expensive.

And it's not just drugs, either. Paul's report noted that, "since 2017, the NIH has given the University of Concepcion in Chile $1,101,157115 to study the influence of glycine receptors on alcohol consumption….by training mice to get drunk." Evidently, the U.S. taxpayer-funded scientists would inject alcohol straight into the mice in order to get them inebriated, locked them in a small enclosure, then noted their reactions. "Researchers hoped the study would be 'a novel opportunity' to treat alcohol use disorders," the Festivus Report noted.

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Senator Paul's report also noted the more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds that were given to the University of Illinois at Chicago to help pay for its study "to see if there is any correlation between colorectal cancer risk and structural violence caused by social determinants such as racism," but the subjects of the study were...mice. Paul's report noted that not only do mice lack any concept of race, but the study has, shockingly, not been successful. "But, think on the bright side, the researchers probably got to witness some very thrilling MMA-style fights in the lab!" Paul quipped. "That is something that all American taxpayers should be proud to be paying for."

The full 2022 Festivus Report can be viewed here, but it's clear — as Senator Paul noted — that no amount of spending ever satiates the federal government's desire to throw millions of taxpayer dollars at projects that are either not where funding was intended to go or that end up failing to create any benefit for the American taxpayer. 

The reality of the national debt and the other economic woes faced by Americans as a result of President Biden's failed "build back better" policies is bleak, but at least as Senator Paul shows each year with his Festivus Report, it can at least provide some entertainment while we contemplate how we'll charge our mandatory electric vehicles without a working power grid. 

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