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Bee Stings, Walking with Coffee, and Other Uses of Your Taxes

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) released an 'oversight report' yesterday "highlighting 20 hard-to-justify, taxpayer-funded studies that diverted more than $35 million that could have been better spent researching treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral infections such as Zika and Ebola." The 85-page report is titled "Twenty Questions: Government Studies That Will Leave you Scratching Your Head," and is available here.

The report received above-the-fold, front page coverage by the Washington Times today. Here's a portion of Stephen Dinan's reporting:

"Taxpayers paid for one scientist to have a bee sting his penis and paid other researchers to figure out that cheerleaders look more attractive in a group than individually, according to a painful new survey of wasteful spending released Tuesday by Sen. Jeff Flake.

"At a time when the Obama administration is pleading for more money to fight the Zika virus, repair water pipes in Flint, Michigan, and combat the growing opioid epidemic, the ridiculous research projects suggest there’s plenty of room to save money already in the budget, Mr. Flake said.

"Unnecessary projects included the $50,000 for researchers who studied femininity and masculinity in members of Congress. The National Science Foundation paid the University of California, Los Angeles to conclude that Republican women are feminine and Democratic women are not.

In conclusion, Mr. Dinan wrote:

"Mr. Flake said he hoped highlighting the bizarre spending choices would push bureaucrats to be more watchful in the future.

"He also said it’s time to enlist the public. He introduced legislation to require the White House to develop a system to weed out duplicative research and to require agencies that fund research to post a summary, funding details and information about papers written for every unclassified study paid for by taxpayers’ money."

The report is Sen. Flake's fifth oversight report, and "continued retired U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) tradition of publishing an annual Wastebook when he released Wastebook: The Farce Awakens, an oversight report highlighting 100 examples of wasteful government spending that totaled over $100 billion." Links to the reports are available in this May 10, 2016 press release.

According to Fox News yesterday, "The most cringe-worthy item highlighted by the report was a study -- part of a $1 million National Science Foundation grant to Cornell University -- for which researcher Michael Smith had a bee sting him roughly 200 times on 25 parts of his body and rated how much it hurt." They also featured a "Wheel of Waste" in a 5-minute video that included Sen. Flake.

Growls readers are encouraged to write to their members of Congress to learn what their Member did to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. You can find contact information at the Library of Congress' Thomas website (use left-hand column). Here are Arlington County's members of Congress:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

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