Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wastebook 2013 Review, Wasteful Government Spending Part 1: Facebook Pays No Taxes, $297 Million Blimp Goes Flat And More

For the next four days or so we will be reviewing the latest research, done annually, by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Every year, the Senator produces his “Wastebook” publication which looks at one hundred of the worse, most inane uses of taxpayer wealth by the Federal government. Just these 100 examples alone cost the American taxpayer a whopping $30 billion a year in waste. 

At a time when the nation’s national debt load is exceeding $17 TRILLION, when the President and other petty Federal politicians are crying about the minimal cuts incurred by the sequester, when these same politicians call for higher and higher taxes, the “Wastebook” serves as an excellent counter balance to out of control government spending. We do not have an under taxation problem in this country, we have an overspending, wasteful spending problem in this country, as witnessed by the stupid spending expenses we will review over the next four days.

As you read these examples of stupid spending, consider the following concepts:
  • How many of these stupid spending priorities help to find employment for the 23 million unemployed or under employed Americans?
  • How many of these stupid spending priorities help to feed or shelter the millions of homeless in this country?
  • How many of these stupid spending priorities help to treat the millions of drug addicted Americans in this country?
  • Given that no Federal taxpayer money was used to repair the Statue of Liberty several decades ago, why should the same type of Federal taxpayer money be used for these insane expenses today?
  • How do these stupid expenses address the major issues of our times such as failing public education, illegal immigration, the lack of a strategic national energy plan, skyrocketing health care costs, etc., issues that affect just about every American?
  • The Federal government just reduced the long term benefits it pays out to our veterans but continues to pay for such rubbish as what is documented in the “Wastebook.”
The obvious answer is that these programs address none of these issues. Senator Coburn captures the insanity of such spending in his “Wastebook” publication for 2013:

“Times remain tough in America. The number of people working has dropped to the lowest level in decades. More than 23 million of our fellow citizens do not have good jobs, and wages for many others are stagnant and even declining. Families are struggling to do more with less. 

But not everyone in America is living on a smaller budget. Washington politicians don’t even bother to give themselves a budget anymore. For the third consecutive year, Congress failed to pass a budget. And, for the fourth straight year, these compulsive spenders charged more than $1 trillion to our national credit card, pushing us to a $16 trillion debt. Some try to rationalize the excessive borrowing and spending as necessary until the economy gets back on track. 

But the increased demand for help is precisely why Washington must be more careful how tax dollars are spent to ensure we can care for those who are truly in need. To do this Washington must set priorities, just like every family. The problem is Washington has all the wrong priorities.

Thousands, millions and even billions of dollars in an annual budget in excess of $3.7 trillion may not seem like much to Washington politicians, but these days a dollar can make a big difference for families on fixed budgets. How many of our friends, families and neighbors could be fed with the nearly $1 million the government spent taste testing foods to be served on the planet Mars? How many nutritious school lunches could have been served with the $2 million in financial assistance provided to cupcake specialty shops?

We are not going to review all hundred insane instances of wasteful spending over the next four days for several reasons:
  • We may have already reviewed them in prior posts.
  • They are similar to ones we are reviewing.
  • The explanation of them would take up too much space.
However, the many we are reviewing will give you an idea of how badly our taxpayer wealth is being managed by the Washington political class and how shallow and stupid their calls for more taxes are. Keep in mind that these are only 100 examples, there are likely thousands and thousands of other wasteful spending efforts that the Senator never got to.

2. It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s Superman! – (National Guard) $10 million 

This year, the Army National Guard teamed up with Superman on a $10 million “Soldier of Steel” promotional campaign, intended “to increase awareness and consideration of service opportunities in the National Guard.”25 The recruitment ads “dovetailed with the release of the Warner Bros. blockbuster movie, ‘Man of Steel,’” the latest Superman movie and, strangely enough, with a downsizing of the National Guard. 

3. Uncle Sam Looking for Romance on the Web – (NEH) $914,000 

The Federal government Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.” 

5. Beachfront Boondoggle: Taxpayer’s on the Hook for Paradise Island Homes – (Hawaii) $500 million 

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) home loan program created to assist those with low and moderate incomes in rural areas to obtain “safe and sanitary dwellings," has expanded to cover “mortgages for millionaires” and homes in suburban and urban areas, as well as seaside “resort communities.”

This year more than 100 individuals or families received loan guarantees for $500,000 or more from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase a residence in Hawaii. If these new homeowners later cannot afford their new homes, it’s no problem; the federal government will protect the banks from losses by repaying 90 percent of the loans.

6. Pimping the Tax Code – (Navada) $17.5 million

Through the tax code, Uncle Sam is assisting the operation of the legal brothels in Nevada. Though prostitution is illegal almost everywhere in the nation, the federal tax code still allows brothels to qualify for standard business deductions and expenses. These deductions significantly reduce a brothel’s overall federal income tax liability, even though annual revenues for the industry have been approximately $50 million. All while other sectors of the economy shriveled. 

Brothels can take deductions for groceries, “salaries and wages of prostitutes, rent, utilities and taxes and licenses.” The Mustang Ranch brothel, which was Nevada’s oldest, reduced its income tax liability by also deducting costs of “promotion,” which included “free passes.” 

Brothel workers are also allowed business deductions. “[B]reast implants and…costumes” have also been ruled allowable deductions by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Workers can also deduct the cost of “equipment for that specialized stuff,” noted one tax expert. 

7. Mass Destruction of Weapons – (DoD) $7 billion 

As the U.S. war effort in the Middle East winds to a close, the military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of useable vehicles and other military equipment. The total amount of equipment eventually to be scrapped—the equivalent of 77,000 metric tons—is approximately 20 percent of the total war material the U.S. military has in Afghanistan.

The military has decided to simply destroy more than $7 billion worth of equipment rather than sell it or ship it back home. 

8. Let Me Google That for You: National Technical Information Service – (Department of Commerce) $50 million 

One federal agency is charging other offices and taxpayers to provide government reports that are largely available free of charge on the Internet. It is essentially the “let me Google that for you” office of the federal government. Home to more than three million records, the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS) collects “government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business-related information” and reports and sells them to other federal agencies. Only it turns out most of what it sells can also be found for free on the Internet with little effort.

10. Cost of Unused Mega-Blimp Goes Up, Up and Away – (Army) $297 Million 

In an era of technological advances that make the machines of war smaller and more agile, the Army spent three and a half years developing a football field-sized blimp that would provide continuous surveillance of the Afghan battlefield – called by some an “unblinking eye.”

In 2013, however, the Army closed the blimp’s eye forever when it brought the project to a halt after spending nearly $300 million. The Army sold the airship back to the contractor that was building it for just $301,000. 

12. Indie Rock Music Execs’ World Tour – (ITA) $284,300 

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) received $284,300 this year from the International Trade Administration (ITA) Market Development Cooperator program. This is “the first time” the federal government’s “trade arm” has funded the promotion of the U.S. music industry.

With the government subsidies, independent music label executives have been traveling around the globe promoting rock music in foreign markets on what might be called “the Indie Rock Music Execs World Tour.” Last year, ITA officials accompanied A2IM members on a trip to Asia. This year the group was rocking in Rio. 

13. Status Update: Facebook Pays No Taxes, Instead gets a Tax Refund – (IRS) $295 million 

Here is a status update no one will “like” – one of America’s largest companies avoided paying federal or state income taxes, and is poised to do so again this year. In fact, they will likely receive a check from the federal government in the form of a tax refund.

Despite bringing in more than $1 billion in U.S. pretax profits last year, the social-media giant Facebook reported a combined $429 million refund from their federal and state tax filings. Uncle Sam cut a check to Facebook for roughly $295 million in 2012, according to one analysis of the company’s 10-K filing.

14. Government Study Finds Out Wives Should Calm Down – (NIH) $325,525 

If your wife is angry at you and you don’t want her to stay that way, you might avoid passing along the findings of this government study. Wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands, according to government-funded research. 

The researchers observed 82 married couples. “The marriages that were the happiest were the ones in which the wives were able to calm down quickly during marital conflict,” explained one researcher.

Ticked off yet? We are just getting started, three more days of wasteful spending to follow, all with your hard earned tax dollars.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at:


It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Term Limits Now: http://www.howmuchworsecoulditget.com

No comments: