monkey with IPodWe did not make this stuff up: Monkeys given cocaine are being studied for their reaction. And (different) monkeys are being studied for their reaction to “inequity.” (Maybe next they’ll study the monkeys that did not get cocaine to see if they felt an “inequity.”) People who are trying to quit smoking are given Blackberries and students who might not graduate are given Ipods. (Maybe the monkeys who did not get the cocaine should be given a Blackberry or an Ipod to make up for the inequity.) Oh, and the National Science Foundation is studying our reaction to the stimulus program. These are not bad TV sit-com ideas; these are your tax dollars at work.
Ice rink projects in Woodbury ($503,900 on a $2.3 million project) and Eagan ($1.3 million toward a multi-million dollar project) receiving federal stimulus money are going to the same contractor. The projects have been defended as smart up-grades that will save taxpayers money in the long run and they certainly are not blatant boondoggles. But one still has to ask whether it is proper to use federal taxpayer funds for things like city ice rinks. We love our hockey but at what price?
Here is Item #77 from the report:
When it comes to keeping the local ice rink up to date, Woodbury, Minnesota does not plan to just  skate by. Woodbury has allocated more than $2.3 million to upgrade its heating systems at a local ice rink,using $503,900 in stimulus funding. Funding was provided by the Department of Energy through the energy efficiency block grant program to help install a geothermal heating and cooling system that would, among other things, “prevent heat from the roof from warming the ice surface,” and “provide heat for the west rink spectators.” The City of Woodbury hired Harris Mechanical Services to study possible avenues for moving forward with the project. Not surprisingly, the company came forward with a recommendation that it be hired to perform a $2.4 million retrofit for the Bielenberg SportsCenter. Harris was ultimately hired, but not before City Administrator Clinton Gridley noted that theproject carried certain downsides, including that it “does not utilize the competitive bidding process”and “replaces equipment that has not reached its useful life span.” Harris was also able to land a similar deal in Eagan, Minnesota to install a geothermal heat pump for the ice rink in Eagan CivicArena. For this project, the Department of Energy contributed more than $1.3 million, covering about a third of the project’s overall cost.
Read on–the link to the full report appears below and is worth reading, if you can stand it. It does not matter if these abuses are only a small fraction of the stimulus money (so goes the defense).
Stimulus programs, whether spent by President Bush or President Obama, do not work as sold and are ripe for this kind of corruption and abuse. Think of the money as pay offs to constituents—but the money belonged to you.
Other examples of wasteful projects include:

$554,763 for the Forest Service to replace windows in a closed visitor center at Mount St. Helens

$762,372 to create “Dance Draw” interactive dance software

$62 million for a tunnel to nowhere in Pittsburgh, PA that even Governor, Ed Rendell called “a tragic mistake”

$1.9 million for international ant research

$1.8 million for a road project that is threatening a pastor’s home

$308 million for a joint clean energy venture with…BP

$89,298 to replace a new sidewalk that leads to a ditch in Boynton, OK

$3.8 million for a “streetscaping” project that has reduced traffic and caused a business to fire two employees

$16 million to help Boeing to clean up an environmental mess it created in 2007

$200,000 to help Siberian communities lobby Russian policy makers

$39.7 million to upgrade the statehouse and political offices in Topeka, KS 

$760,000 to Georgia Tech to study improvised music

$700,000 to study why monkeys respond negatively to inequity

$193,956 to study voter perceptions of the economic stimulus

$363,760 to help NIH promote the positive impacts of stimulus projects

$456,663 to study the circulation of Neptune’s atmosphere

$529,648 to study the effects of local populations on the environment…in the Himalayas

The full report can be found at:

Here is an excerpt from an August 3, 2010 Press Release from Senator John McCain:
Coburn and McCain write in the report:  
“We owe it to all Americans that are paying taxes and struggling to find jobs, to rebuild our economy without doing additional harm, and to do it in a way that expands opportunities for future generations.  Too many stimulus projects are failing to meet that goal.”
“Eighteen months since the passage of the stimulus bill, millions of jobs are still gone and the economy is as uncertain as ever.  The only thing getting a boost is our national debt.  The stimulus has helped push it 23 percent higher, to $13.2 trillion, a new record.”
“Washington should focus on re-igniting the unmatched power of the American entrepreneurial spirit by sweeping away government red tape, expanding markets for U.S. goods, making it easier for small businesses to obtain credit, and reducing our national debt by eliminating wasteful Washington spending.”