In honor of all the tax reform talk, we thought it would be fun to research how wisely, or unwisely in most cases, Congress spends your hard earned tax dollars. If you received a smaller than expected refund, or God forbid owed taxes last year, you may want to stop reading now to prevent your blood pressure from rocketing through the roof faster than the national debt. Keep in mind, this is not an all inclusive list and is simply a highlight reel based on Oklahoma Senator James Lankford’s Spending Report of the of control spending over the last few years. Here are my favorite 10.

10. Department of State – $545,000 for hiring truth-telling consultants to assist nominees for confirmation hearings

As ridiculous of a purchase as this was, I completely understand the need for this from the government perspective. When you are nominating less than fully qualified people to positions, you need to provide some training on how to appear qualified during a confirmation hearing. Apparently, they needed to spend  more though, because it didn’t appear that Betsy DeVos took the training based on her train wreck of a confirmation hearing.

9. National Science Foundation – $50,000 Snail card game

I love card games, and as much as I love playing card games, I love experimenting by finding new card games to play with family and friends. With that being said, 5OK for a snail themed card game is pure insanity. On a positive note, I guess it can help children learn types of snails and mollusks.

8. Department of Defense – $42,718,739 CNG Station in Afghanistan

I’m guessing the theory here was that we invaded the Middle East in 2003 for their natural resources, so it’s time to sell said resources for profit. However, spending almost $43 million on a fueling station, that’s a little excessive, even for our government. Even though it is tempting and the government’s standard practice, we don’t have to spend millions of dollars on stupid ideas.

7. Department of Defense – $250 million to train 60 Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS

This one has been widely talked about by pundits, and in the beginning, the program planned to train a few thousand rebels, but for some reason, probably incompetence, only 60 ended up completing the training, which makes the cost per trainee seem quite excessive.

6. Whole Government-$1.67 billion maintaining unused or under-utilized properties

At a time when the government is considering the sale of BLM land to private buyers for development purposes, it seems like a good time to bring up the $1.6 billion elephant in the room, why not sell the unused land and buildings currently held by the government? Not only would this eliminate maintenance costs, but it would bring in funds from the sale. And regardless of your stance on global warming/climate change, I think everyone can agree that humans are terrible for the environment in general (see Deepwater Horizon disaster, Flint Water Crisis, Pacific Ocean Floating Landfill, etc), so keeping BLM lands protected from more human intervention seems like a good idea.

5. Department of Defense – $283,000 Gnatcather Bird (CAGN) Survey

If I am reading your mind correctly, then no, the Department of Defense is not a typo here, and I don’t know why they were so interested in this specific type of bird. Maybe, they were observing the birds to study the defense tactics they use to protect their nests from invaders.  In a more likely scenario, they needed to spend excess money before the end of the budget year, and what better to spend it on than Gnatcatchers.

4. Department of State – $5 million Twitter account

By now, most of you have a Twitter account, and even our site has one (check us out @classicmoderate). What I didn’t know was that it costs $5 million to run an account, because we probably wouldn’t have started one had we known that. I would like to think that the $5 million annual budget is the salary of the person in charge of moderating the account, because that would be a sweet gig. And if it is, how do I apply?

3. National Sciene Foundation – $374,087 Senior (Above 60 years old) adult dating study

It’s only fair I guess. Young people’s dating habits are easily studied through the interactions on apps like Tinder and Bumble, but how do we know how older people date? Cue this study, because this is an area for which we all need answers. You may be asking yourself “why does the (insert your favorite expletive here) government feel it has any business playing the role of an elderly E-Harmony site?” And that my friends is a great question.

2. National Science Foundation – $149,000 Research study on how politics stress citizens out

They didn’t need to spend any money, and I could have told them why politics is stressing everyone out. For starters, wasteful spending of taxpayer money on stupid studies like this. Second, the lack of quality candidates. I mean seriously, Trump or Clinton was the best the parties could come up with?

1. National Park Service – $65,473 Grant to study insects reaction to artificial light

Coming from a small rural Midwestern town, I can tell you exactly what happens when you turn a porch light on at night. Insects flock to it like it’s a bottle of water in the middle of the Sahara desert. There you go. $65,473 saved. It’s not a large sum of money to the federal government, but it’s still a ridiculous outlay given anyone can Google this answer. If you don’t trust Google, you can also ask any company that manufactures bug zapper lights, because they figured this question out many years ago.

Title Image via “All In a Day’s Work” by Damian Gadal  is licensed under CC BY 2.0