5 Baffling Examples of Government Waste

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Last week an astonishing story came out of Canada.  Apparently, the City of Toronto had stated that it would cost the taxpayers of Ontario $65,000 to build some stairs in a city park. In an act of sensibility and reason, a retired mechanic decided he could probably build that same set of stairs at a cheaper rate, so he got to work, completing the project for a mere $550 dollars.  For some reason this pissed off the city of Toronto, who decided to waste taxpayer dollars and tear down the handyman’s stairs.

It’s astonishing how many examples there are of the government wasting taxpayer dollars. If one city is willing to spend $65,000 to build something one guy did over a weekend, presumably with a six pack of Molson, for under $600, what else are they wasting our money on?

$100 Million Dollars In Unused Airline Tickets


Between 1997 and 2003 a federal audit revealed that the Department of Defense spent in excess of $100 million dollars on airline tickets that were never used. That’s 270,000 unused airline tickets.  Between 2001 and 2002 the audit revealed that the Pentagon purchased the same ticket twice in an astonishing 27,000 instances. But perhaps the worst part about this waste is that these tickets were fully refundable.  

The Department of Defense and the Pentagon fall under “military spending.” Still think we can’t afford to reduce military spending?

$29 Million Dollars Worth of Construction Equipment Lost in Afghanistan


I’ll never forget when my friend Abe returned from serving his second tour in Iraq in 2009. Sitting outside on a patio outside of a bar in Iowa he lit up a cigarette, and before taking his first puff he was already laughing. Confused, we asked him what was so funny, and with a smile on his face he started telling us how odd it was to be able to smoke outside of a bar. He went on to tell us that how in the military he was only allowed to smoke in certain areas; often times shacks that he and his unit would have to build. He told us one story of how when he was in Afghanistan the closest smoke shack was about a mile away. Disappointed, he and some men from his unit decided to obtain material to build one closer to where they spent most of their day. He went on to describe how he had no idea how much, or even what material was needed, so while he and his unit were filling out the paperwork they would guess at what was needed.  The requisition was approved, and when the material arrived they realized they had way too much material, and after the shack was built they sort of abandoned the surplus and forgot about it.  

Since 2001, the government has spent nearly $4 TRILLION dollars on wars in the Middle East.  We often hear from Republicans in Congress that the taxpayer dollars being spent in Afghanistan, and throughout the region are in an effort to make the region safe, and therefore to keep America safe.  But as my friend Abe pointed out, a lot of it is bullshit.

In his annual “Festivus” report, Senator Rand Paul highlighted how in 2016 taxpayers spent $29 million dollars on lost cranes and bulldozers in Afghanistan.


Pentagon Spends $43 Million on One Gas Station in Afghanistan

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In October of 2015, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction published an alarming report.  Apparently taxpayers had spent $43 million dollars to build a single compressed natural gas station in Sheberghan Afghanistan. The purpose of the gas station, according to the report, was to highlight the commercial viability of using compressed natural gas to fuel vehicles in the region. John Sopko, who commissioned the report, had previously built a similar gas station in Pakistan for $500,000, meaning this particular station cost 140 times more.

The report highlights more than $30 million in overhead, and, according to Sopko;

“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide and explanation for the high cost of the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation or outcome.”

The average American is responsible for making sure that they can provide for themselves and their families, we are expected to act responsibly. But like that trust fund kid paying for his whole crew to go on spring break with him, the government doesn’t care about cost because they’re paying with someone else’s money.


$48,500 to Study the Smoking Habits of Russians

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Russians like to do many things; drink vodka, watch hockey, hack our elections, and smoke tobacco.  In fact Russians really like their tobacco; 60% of Russian men, and 25% of Russian woman regularly indulge in tobacco products.  

In April of 2015 the U.S. National Institutes of Health gave a grad student nearly $50,000 to study the habits of tobacco use in Russia over the last 130 years.

I think I join the vast majority of Americans when I say, “who cares?”

$9.6 Billion a Year on the 

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Formed as part of the “New Deal” by FDR in 1935, the “Rural Utilities Service Program” was designed to bring electricity to farms across the country, which may have been a good idea at the time.  That year only 11% of this America’s farms had electricity.  Today, however, the program is a giant, inefficient boondoggle, and eliminating the program would save taxpayers close to $10 billion dollars in the first year. What they’ve been doing lately is spending an estimated $5,500 per resident to give a rural town in Arkansas with a population of 122 people internet access.

While the program obviously has noble intentions, the private sector could, and would step up to fill this void. Google, and other tech giants love to invest in bringing infrastructure to more potential clients. But why would they invest in infrastructure when the government already does.  When the government cuts spending in one area there is usually a large public outcry, then the void gets filled by private enterprise.
There are literally hundreds of examples of how the government wastes our money on a daily basis, yet progressives constantly want to add more government programs. Lets return that money to the people, let us decide what is and is not worthwhile.