On the popular 90’s sitcom “Seinfeld,” some of the characters celebrated a fictitious holiday known as Festivus, which among other things was marked by an “airing of grievances” in which celebrants shared what they were most disappointed or aggrieved by over the past year.
For several years now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has participated in his own Festivus-style “airing of grievances” that highlights some of the most egregious examples of waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending, and this year was no exception, according to Townhall.
The 2022 Festivus report from the Kentucky senator exposed a grand total of $482,276,543,907 in wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars on absurd or unnecessary things — and to be sure, the list could easily be doubled or tripled or more.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a substantial portion of Sen. Paul’s report involved fraud and waste with COVID-19 relief funds, such as $4.5 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Grants through the Small Business Administration to recipients who were known to be ineligible for the money they received.
The report also included $140 billion for a luxury hotel and spa in Florida built with COVID relief funds, $31.5 million in COVID relief funds used by fraudsters to buy exotic and luxury vehicles, $50 million in COVID relief funds to boost tourism in Tunisia, and even $1.6 million in COVID relief funds used by a Wisconsin school district to upgrade its athletic fields.
Sen. Paul’s Festivus report also featured several examples of ridiculously wasteful spending in the form of federal grants for research and studies involving animals.
That includes $3 million to inject hamsters with steroids and then watch them fight and $2.3 million to inject Beagle puppies with cocaine to monitor their behavior.
Also making the list was $1.1 million to train mice how to drink alcohol, more than $519,000 to use mice to study racial aggression, $689,222 to study the romantic behavior of parrots, $675,00 to study the intelligence and social lives of ants, and $187,500 to research the bonds formed between children and household pets.
Unused and useless
Given the sizeable annual budget of the U.S. military, it isn’t surprising that some of its funding is wasted on unnecessary purchases, such as $28 million for forest-pattern camouflage for Afghanistan that doesn’t match the typical terrain and had been flatly rejected as “dumb” by an inspector general.
The Defense Department also, for some unknown reason, spent $9 million to build a park in Austin, Texas and has spent $192,592 to install Starbucks espresso machines at the Pentagon.
The Department of Homeland Security also made the list for two things that seemingly undermine its own purpose — $168 million for attorneys to help illegal immigrants avoid deportation and $17 million for hotel rooms for detained migrants that went unused.
Speaking of things that were paid for but left largely unused, there was $77 million for the maintenance of empty buildings owned by the government, $175 million for a streetcar in Washington D.C., and $13.4 million for unused housing grants in Louisiana.
So much unnecessary spending
The biggest and most obscene waste of taxpayer money of all, however, would have to be the $475 billion that the federal government paid in interest alone this year to service the ever-increasing national debt.
There are plenty more minor and major examples of waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending that have aggrieved Sen. Paul and likely millions of American taxpayers. But, oddly enough, as entertaining as the senator’s annual Festivus reports can be, the hope is that one day he won’t feel the need to compile such lists anymore.