There are many problems with government intervention. It’s expensive, it introduces distortions into the market, and it’s often unfair. It can introduce major costs to people’s lives, as people have discovered when their insurance policies were canceled and they were forced to buy more expensive and sometimes less-comprehensive policies because of Obamacare.
But then there’s the fact that government spends a lot of money on ridiculous causes of which almost no one approves. Senator Coburn and his staff have produced their annual list of outrageous stuff that the government spends with your hard-earned money. This year, it adds up to $30 billion. Here are a few examples from last year:
- Tax loopholes for the NFL, NHL, and PGA – professional sports leagues that generate billions of dollars annually in profits ($91 million in lost tax revenue)
- Moroccan pottery classes (part of a $27 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development)
- Efforts to promote caviar consumption and production ($300,000)
- A robotic squirrel named RoboSquirrel (part of a $325,000 grant from the National Science Foundation)
- Promotion of specialty shampoos and other beauty products for cats and dogs ($505,000)
- Corporate welfare for the world’s largest snack food producer, PepsiCo ($1.3 million)
- Government-funded study on how golfers might benefit from using their imagination to envision the hole is bigger than it actually is ($350,000)
- “Prom Week,” a video game that allows taxpayers to relive prom night ($516,000)
- A scarcely used airport in Oklahoma that only exists to transfers federal funds elsewhere in the state ($450,000)
- The 2012 Alabama Watermelon Queen tour, paid for in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to promote the consumption of Alabama’s watermelon” ($25,000)
Sean Davis over at the Federalist has more from this year’s list:
- Tax breaks for brothel-worker breast implants
- A government study on why wives should calm down
- Life-coaching for Senate staff
- A million-dollar bus stop in Arlington, Va.
- $3 million of NASA work looking for signs of intelligent life . . . in Congress
- Federally funded solar panels at a New Hampshire airport covered up because the glare blinds pilots
- The Bridge to Nowhere, still getting taxpayer cash
The report is here.