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Teaching Monkeys How to Gamble --- and Other Ways to Waste Your Tax Dollars

Bernard Goldberg

By Bernard Goldberg

Published Oct. 27, 2014

I know all about the new case of Ebola, the one in New York City. I know that ISIS is still on the move. I know what just happened in Canada. They're all important. I know that too. But there's another menace that causes great harm — and this one doesn't get the attention it deserves.

The enemy is none other than the government of the United States — or more precisely, the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington who take our hard-earned tax money and flush it right down the toilet.

Sure, Islamic terrorists make me mad. But so do the yahoos in our nation's capital who waste billions every year. This is on my mind at the moment because outgoing Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn has just released his annual "Wastebook" report that, as he puts it "looks at 100 of the most outrageous ways Washington spent your money over the past year."

He acknowledges that even though the actual dollar amount they waste "cover just a small slice of the federal budget, the waste in these examples alone totals more than $25 billion."

And wasting that kind of money breeds even more mistrust of government — if that's even possible. "It comes at a time when few people trust government to tackle the big, important problems. The examples detailed in the report make it easy to see why," Coburn writes in a piece for NRO.

Here are just a few examples of how your government is spending your money.

The IRS, which was targeting Americans who disagree with the president, gave away $4 billion — ready for this? — to identity thieves who filed bogus tax returns.

"The director of the National Institutes of Health claims that a vaccine for Ebola 'probably' would have been developed by now," writes Coburn, "if not for the stagnant funding for the agency, which has a $30 billion annual budget. Yet NIH found enough money to give Swedish massages to rabbits and to study how much women love their dogs."

But not all the money was wasted in such a blatant way. Some of it was wasted in more blatant ways than that.

Coburn tells us that the National Science Foundation taught monkeys how to gamble and trained mountains lions how to use a treadmill.

Thousands of federal workers, some who had committed crimes and others who were involved in various forms of misconduct, weren't fired, but instead were allowed to simply go home, pretty much do nothing, and still get paid a total of $20 million — of your tax dollars.

The State Department spent money to dispel the perception overseas that Americans are fat and rude — even though too many Americans are fat and rude.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spent $1 million in workmen's compensation to employees who had been cleared to return to work.

What's next? Paying people to watch grass grow? Well, yes. The Department of the Interior actually paid people to watch grass - to see how quickly it grows.

Not all the money wasted came from tax dollars. But that's only because the government spends more than it collects from us. That means some of the money thrown down the drain was borrowed. But don't worry you won't have to pay it back. Your kids and their kids will take care of that.

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