Most Horrific Things Your Government Has Spent Billions On


$55 billion on old technology

With an $80 billion budget for technology each year, the U.S. spends far more in maintaining outdated dinosaur equipment, instead of investing in new systems. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 68 percent of the annual budget on technology goes towards “services that do not use solutions often viewed as more efficient.”

$1.3 million to tell women not to get in a tanning bed

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The National Institutes of Health spends on average $1.3 million for a social media campaign that aims on having less women use tanning beds. Specifically, the media campaign is aimed at mothers, in an attempt to convince them to discourage their daughters from tanning. Many agree this is the government overstepping its boundaries.

$495,000 on “medieval smells”

Several government agencies joined together to combine nearly half a million dollars to fund one of the most ridiculous projects you’ve never heard of.

Their funding went to creating an exhibit to take people through the five senses they would experience during the medieval ages — that’s right, including smell.

I’m sure this was a great use of taxpayer dollars…

$3.5 million on wine

USDA grants help expand agriculture ever year, which began as a $15 million program that quickly expanded to $44 million.

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Much of the money goes towards companies like Sunsweet and Ocean Spray that are already worth millions, and $3.5 million went towards expanding the wine industry.

$142 Billion in improper Medicaid payments

Medicaid’s original purpose was to provide health care options for low-income families, then the system was abused.

$142 billion in improper payments cases have tallied up since 2009 due to mistakes and the overwhelming amount of members, as well as cases of fraud.

42 different programs providing medical transport

Medical transportation for low-income and disabled Americans is a necessity however, there are currently 42 different programs dedicated to that form of transportation.

Billions are spent every year to operate these programs, so why aren’t they combined? This is big government at it’s worst.

$500,000 to text Americans about not chewing tobacco

The National Institute of Health not only spends money on campaigns against tanning beds, but also against chewing tobacco.

They spend half a million dollars every year on a text message campaign to rural Americans urging them to not use chewing tobacco, when nearly the same exact message is already on the packaging of the container.

$106 million over budget for an office building in Afghanistan

The Air Force awarded a $48 million contract to build a new headquarters for the Afghan Ministry of defense as part of reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

While that makes sense on the surface, allowing the ministry to take over military operations in their own country, it was a project $106 million over budget and five years late.

$400,000 for feminists perspectives on glaciers

Yes, you read that correctly.

The National Science Foundation spent $412,000 to fund a paper arguing that glaciers should be studied from a feminist point of view, because that makes sense.

$76.5 million on a plane… that doesn’t fly

This is possibly the king of all lemons.

The Department of Defense and the Drug Enforcement Agency together have spent a combined $76.5 million on a plane that remains in a hanger in Kabul. The planes purpose is for counter-narcotics efforts; however, it has yet to successfully launch.

$500,000 on a documentary about libraries

The National Endowment for the Humanities spent $500,000 for a documentary showing the history of the public library in the U.S.

While libraries are clearly important in their ability to allow free access to books, spending half a million dollars to watch a documentary about libraries is unnecessary — the book was better, anyway.

$180 million to form Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

There is no doubt that the DHS is a necessity, but the fact that it took 13 years and $180 million to create on top of continually showing limited progress in addressing consolidation issues within its resources and systems, shows just what bloated government can do.

$225,000 on technology recommendations we already have

Theres no doubt that exposing technology to children either has a positive or negative effect on their lives and learning abilities, so the National Science Foundations spent $225,000 on a study to show the effects of technology on young children.

There’s a glaring issue with this; there are already multiple reputable organizations that have already done studies and provided guidelines.

$32 million in excess on Native American prisons

Two prisons in Arizona on Native American land are twice the size they were originally suppose to be, and have cost nearly twice as much to facilitate.

The prison in Tuba City has a 132 bed facility, when there is normally no more than 10 inmates at a given time.

$600,000 on inoperable drones

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives spent $600,000 on six drones that ended up failing miserably due to technological limitations.

While it makes sense to have law enforcement of any kind to use drones, when taxpayer dollars are on the line there needs to be more accountability on how that money is spent.

$1.5 million to study fish on treadmills

The National Science Foundation used $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars to study fish on treadmills.

Because knowing how a fish performs out of water on a treadmill is the most important thing we can do with $1.5 million.

$5 million on frat and sorority partying studies/h3>

Brown University received a $5 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study fraternities and sororities.

They came to the conclusion that both groups consume more alcohol than other college students, and people that attend parties for either of the groups are more likely to drink alcohol than at other events — who would have guessed?

$3.4 million on hamster fighting

Northerneastern University received $3.4 million to study fighting hamsters in order to examine their anxiety and aggression.

Not only that, but researchers even gave the hamsters steroids — your taxes paid for hamster steroids.

$300,000 on a study to see which gender plays with Barbie dolls more

The National Institutes of Health spent a whopping $300,000 to discover that girls like to play with barbies more than boys, who prefer to play with transformers.

Huh, what a shocker.

$3 million study to decide if people dislike sharks more because of the Jaws music

A $3 million study conducted by the National Science Foundation discovered that the intense growing danger in the famous Jaws music gives people a negative association with sharks.

That seems pretty clear without having to spend $3 million, but who am I, besides being one of the millions of Americans who helped directly fund this study.

$206,000 to fly a monkey into space

NASA decided to schedule a flight for a monkey to go into space in December of 2015, but it was delayed due to weather.

They spent $206,000 on a failed experiment to send a monkey into orbit.

$21.8 million to subsidize cheese.

The government spent over $21 million to purchase cheese.

After buying the surplus, they gave incentives to companies if they entered the cheese industry.

$2 million to create Jazz playing robots

The goal of this is to build a computer system that can be hooked up to a robot that allows it to play an instrument.

While this seems futuristic and cool — straight out of Star Wars — there is no need for it to come out of taxpayer dollars.

$1.3 million to discover why koozies keep beer cans cool on a hot day.

The National Science Foundation gave a grant of $1.3 million to two University of Washington students so they could investigate how a koozie keeps a beer can cold on a warm day.

Thats right, you helped fund a couple of college kids who wanted to study how koozies work, and it cost over a million dollars — let that sink in.

$283,000 for the Department of Defense to bird watch.

On the California coast lives the gnatcatcher bird, which the federal government has designated as an endangered species more than two decades ago.

The Department of Defense approved a $283,500 grant for the monitoring of baby gnathatcher birds.

$48,000 to write about Russian smokers

The U.S. National Institutes of Health approved a grant of $48,500 for a grad student to write a definitive history about smoking in Russia over the past 130 years.

They apparently thought that people would read it, then learn from Russias mistakes — maybe try it with U.S. history next time instead.

$400,000 to look into a “chicken or the egg” type problem

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology got a grant of more that $400,000 from the National Science Foundation to do a study on whether media choice causes polarization or if polarization causes media choice.

So the government spent $400,000 for a “chicken or the egg” type of argument — not that the money could go towards other necessities or anything.

$3.1 billion on vacation for federal employees placed on administrative leave

Five federal agencies alone spent $3.1 billion on workers that were placed on administrative leave within a two-year span.

The worst part about all of this is that $775 million was used to pay for public employees that were banned from working at their job because they were under investigation for misconduct. So lets pay possible criminals to not work? Great idea.

$5,000 for a documentary about the best fiddler in Madison County, NC

The National Park Service spent over $5,000 on a grant for Mars Hill University in order to make a documentary about the best local musician.

They thought it would help promote tourism to the region, as great of a fiddler as the person might be, it doesn’t really help the American public.

$150,000 on a study to understand why politics stress us out.

The National Science Foundation spent $150,000 on attempting to learn why it’s so stressful to debate politics amongst friends and family.

So they wasted that much money so we can be stressed out over them wasting that much money, perfect.

$65,000 to understand what bugs do when they get near a lightbulb

The National Park Service used a grant worth $65,473 to see what happens if insects that are used to the dark enter an environment that has light.

This doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, anyone that lives in a rural area will tell you that a bug is going to be attracted to the light.

$35,000 for solar-powered beer

The Department of Agriculture paid $35,000 for solar-panel installations at breweries in Michigan and Wyoming.

Why couldn’t the companies themselves pay for the solar panels?

$107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail.

Because that’s what we need, to study the sex life of a bird, that just happens to cost us over $100,000.

I forgot we cared so much about the sex lives of exotic animals.

$1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck.

Didn’t we just go over how we don’t care about the sex life of animals?

Guess the government doesn’t take a hint, this time they wasted over a million dollars, nice.

$150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

There are already thousands of history books in existence that at least have a section dedicated to this old-time feud for the ages, so was it really necessary to spend $150,000 to study it a little closer?

Probably not.

$84,000 to find out why people fall in love.

Because that’s what the government should be involved in, studying how people fall in love — makes sense.

If that isn’t ridiculous enough, the fact that they spent $84,000 on it should upset you even more.

$1 million to study why people don’t ride bikes to work.

Why does it take $1 million to figure this out? Can’t they just simply ask someone why they don’t ride their bike to work?

That would be too easy, I guess.

$19 million to examine gas emissions from cow flatulence.

$19 million dollars to study cow farts, you read that right.

19. Million. Dollars.

$144,000 to see if pigeons follow human economic laws.

This one doesn’t even make sense. Who in their right mind thought one day, “hey, Chad, have you ever thought that pigeons might know what economic laws are and follow them?”

I really wish Chad would have said no, maybe then we wouldn’t have wasted $144,000 on pigeons. I guess being rational is for the birds.

$219,000 to teach college students how to watch television.

It seems like a pretty easy concept, turn the tv on, pick a channel, and sit there.

I’m not sure what could have possibly cost that much, they probably forgot to cancel their HBO subscription.

$2 million to construct an ancient Hawaiian canoe.

Do you know of any wood that would cost that much? I know I don’t.

The real issue is whether or not we think government funds should be used to build something like this at all, maybe it should be the job of natives that want to preserve their own culture, not the government.

$20 million for a demonstration project to build wooden bridges.

Demonstrations are fine and dandy, and building bridges is great, but when it’s wasting $20 million on low tech wooden bridges it’s a complete waste of tax dollars.

Especially for recreating something outdated.

$160,000 to study if you can hex an opponent by drawing an X on his chest.

So the government is investing in sorcery now?

Sadly enough this isn’t the worst investment it’s made.

$800,000 for a restroom on Mt. McKinley.

Its not like mountains are in the middle of nature or anything.

Maybe instead of paying that much for a restroom tourists could just go off the beaten path.

$100,000 to study how to avoid a falling spacecraft.

This one almost seems like a legitimate concern until you realize how slim the possibility of a spacecraft falling out of orbit is.

You’d probably win the lottery before that happened.

$16,000 to study the operation of the komungo, a Korean stringed instrument.

Why are we studying foreign instruments with government funds…

Everything about this is wrong.

$1 million to preserve a sewer as a historic monument.

New Jersey at its finest.

A million dollars, to preserve a sewer as a historic monument, and you helped pay for it.

$6,000 for a document on Worcestershire sauce.

While this is a lot less money wasted than other studies or grants, the principle stays the same.

It’s a slippery slope, one day you spend $6,000 on a document about soy sauce, the next day you spend $19 million to research cow farts.

$10,000 to study bull’s potency.

What is with the governments obsession with animals sex lives?

It’s getting pretty weird.

$100,000 to research soybean-based ink.

So basically the government is trying to privatize an idea that a company could create and profit off of.

That doesn’t sound like capitalism to me.

$1 million for a Seafood Consumer Center.

So we need a center dedicated to people that eat seafood?

Seems legit.

$57,000 spent by the Executive Branch for gold-embossed playing cards on Air Force Two.

How absurd is it to think that you need gold-embossed playing cards as a necessity.

Apparently not absurd enough for the government to turn it down.

$3.1 million to convert a ferry boat into a crab restaurant in Baltimore.

The federal government thinks that they can get into the restaurant business now?

I thought the private sector was for everyday Americans to make their money from, not the government.

$6.4 million for a Bavarian ski resort in Kellogg, Idaho.

Ski resorts, really?

$6.4 million on a leisure activity, that private businesses already have on the market, this is a huge waste.

$13 million to repair a privately owned dam in South Carolina.

This just flat out doesn’t make sense.

How is it the governments responsibility to repair private property? It’s not.

$4.3 million for a privately owned museum in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

I can understand the government funding a public museum, not a private one.

It’s seems like the government is more than willing to just hand out money more and more each year.

$11 million for a private pleasure boat harbor in Cleveland.

Again, this is a private harbor, so why does the government feel the need to fund it?

Your guess is as good as mine.

$6 million to repair tracks owned by the Soo Railroad Line.

Sure, they’ve wasted millions on other private businesses and land.

Why not throw another cool $6 million to railroads while they’re at it.

$320,000 to purchase President McKinley’s mother-in-law’s house.

Whats the historical value in purchasing a president’s mother-in-laws house?

None at all.

$2.7 million for a catfish farm in Arkansas.

The government literally spent $2.7 million on a private catfish farm

If that doesn’t make you upset I don’t know what will.

$3 million for private parking garages in Chicago.

Why on earth is the federal government spending money to hold cars?

This is a prime example of how bloated government spending is.

$500,000 to build a replica of the Great Pyramid of Egypt in Indiana.

I legitimately can’t think of a single good reason for the government to recreate the pyramids in Indiana.

They must have just thought, “whats another half a million down the drain.”

$850,000 for a bicycle path in Macomb County, Michigan.

A bike path seems practical for the most part, since it technically would fall under the category of transportation.

The part that isn’t practical is that it somehow cost $850,000 to make a bike path.

$10 million for an access ramp in a privately owned stadium in Milwaukee.

It’s a privately owned stadium, again, the government should be involved in the private sector.

What’s even worse is that it was $10 million dollars.

$1.8 million for an engineering study to convert Biscayne Boulevard in Miami into an “Exotic Garden.”

Sure, its beautiful, but there isn’t any reason that the federal government should help with beautification projects like this for an engineering study.

That’s not the government’s job.

$13 million for an industrial theme park in Pennsylvania.

A theme park, really?

People’s enjoyment has zero relevance in government affairs, as if there aren’t already a ton of theme parks in America.

$500,000 for a museum to honor former Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

This is similar to the Jamestown museum mentioned earlier.

It could have easily been a project set up by citizens to create instead of the federal government wasting half a million dollars on a history project.

$33 million to pump sand onto the private beaches of Miami hotels.

This is absurd.

$33 million dollars, for sand, on private beaches. Think about what those tax dollars could have helped with instead.

$6 million to upgrade the two-block long Senate subway.

I guess Senate is too good to walk two blocks.

So instead, they decided to wast $6 million of your hard earned money.

$350,000 to renovate the House Beauty Salon.

I wish this was a joke, but it’s not.

Apparently smiling for the cameras and looking pretty is more important than properly spending government funds.

$250,000 to study TV lighting in the Senate meeting rooms.

You have to make sure to get their good side right?

They spent a quarter of a million dollars to figure out how the lighting would make them look the best, pathetic.

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Zach Ferguson is a writer with expertise in the fields of Communication, Digital Marketing and Entertainment.
Zach Ferguson is a writer with expertise in the fields of Communication, Digital Marketing and Entertainment. Besides writing, Zach enjoys entrepreneurial ventures such as podcasting, brand creation and Instagram marketing. He is also the Network Communications Director for his church.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Bachelors in Communications
Grove City College Class of 2017
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Digital Marketing, Technology, Culture, Entertainment