Government ‘waste’ takes on new dimension, as feds pay to collect human urine

Tom CoburnThe next time you have to tinkle, don’t be too hasty to flush. There’s gold in them there “golden showers.” According to Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times, Sen. Tom Coburn has issued his latest report on government excess, and one of the items listed is an expenditure of $15,000 to collect thousands of gallons of human urine to be tested as a hayfield fertilizer.

Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, has long been Congress’s most vocal critics when it comes to government waste. And despite recent belt-tightening (which is apt to end if the current budget deal becomes law), Coburn’s “Wastebook for 2013” reveals:

  • The Pentagon spent more than $300 million on a battlefield blimp that didn’t work, finally canceling the project earlier this year at a near-total loss of the taxpayer money invested in the project.
  • The State Department purchased $5 million worth of new hand-blown crystal stemware days before the government shutdown.

The report, which is being released this morning, also finds:

  • $65 million of Hurricane Sandy emergency relief money that New York and New Jersey spent on television ads promoting tourism.
  • $124,955 to build a 3-D printer to make pizzas for NASA.
  • $566,000 paid by the U.S. Postal Service to a “futurist,” Faith Popcorn, to try to envision a viable future for the post office.
  • $1.5 million spent by the FBI each year to review Hollywood producers and writers on how to portray the agency in movies.

All told, the 177-page report identifies nearly $30 billion in funds that were wasted or squandered on questionable projects.

Coburn and his fellow senators are expected to vote today on the budget agreement, which will take government spending for 2014 in the direction opposite the one Coburn has long championed, even reneging on a 2011 deal that was supposed to limit discretionary spending to less than $1 trillion.

“When it comes to spending your money, those in Washington tend to see no waste, speak no waste and cut no waste,” Coburn is quoted as saying.

Writes Dinan:

The waste he identifies ranges from big-ticket items that are perennial problems — such as the $3.5 billion paid to federal employees who have been identified as tax cheats — to the tiny problems, such as the $40,810 the government spent on a Denver museum dedicated to miniature toys and dolls.


The biggest item was $7 billion in equipment in Afghanistan that the Pentagon says it will destroy rather than bring home or give away, feeling it doesn’t have a use for the materials back here and doesn’t want to turn them over to allies.

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