2020 Festivus Grievances: $54 Billion in Waste

For those of us who pay attention to government spending, the week between Christmas and New Years is a busy time. It’s never pretty, because this is when a lot of wasteful spending is forced through by logrolling politicians. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at them and their wasteful spending priorities.

That’s why the holiday-timed arrival of Senator Rand Paul’s annual Festivus Report is such a pleasure. Its arrival begins with the Senator’s announcement of the traditional Festivus airing of grievances via Twitter.

And takes off from from there! The 2020 edition of the Festivus Report counts some $54.7 billion worth of wasteful government spending.

2020’s Top 10

Here’s my top ten weird government spending line items from this year’s report:

  • $1.3 million to study whether crickets, and products made from crickets, are safe for humans to eat.
  • $900,000 to give cigarettes to adolescent kids to test their reactions to different levels of nicotine.
  • $3.1 million to interview San Franciscan baby boomers about their edible cannabis use.
  • $2.0 million to see if sitting in hot tubs three times a week for ten weeks can lower stress.
  • $3.5 billion for things and services the Department of Veterans Affairs ordered, often years ago, but never received.
  • $1.6 million to X-ray lizard joints as they walk on a treadmill.
  • $2.1 million to develop a wearable headset to capture the sound of a person chewing to monitor their eating behavior.
  • $10.5 million for test tubes that really turned out to be plastic preforms used for making 2-liter soda bottles.
  • $217 million to provide the bureaucrats of the Railroad Retirement Board with specialized, fast track customer service for their own retirement benefits.
  • $2.8 million to research how to prepare mealworms for human and livestock consumption.

For 2021, I think we should all be concerned by the federal government’s increased interest in getting Americans to eat more insects.

Senator Paul’s own Top 10 list for 2020 can be found within the report.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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