Colorado is often cited in national publications for it’s quality of life, but this month, Colorado is featured in a publication that highlights a different side to the state – waste. Each year, Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, publishes an overview of the 100 most egregious government boondoggles called Wastebook. This year’s Wastebook theme is “The Farce Awakens”, a take on Star Wars, and Colorado’s foibles are out of this world. Here are the six (about triple our share) that feature Colorado.
- Great American Boondoggle Festival: Everyone loves Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, but do we need to give grants to Vietnamese to attend? That’s just what the U.S. Department of Agriculture did through it’s Cochran Fellowship Program, which is meant to help developing nations create agriculture systems to meet the dietary needs of its population, and strengthen U.S. trade. The entire booze program, including the trip to our beer festival, cost American taxpayers $68,129. That’ll make you cry into your beer.
- Department of Veterans Art: The challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs as it tries to deliver quality care (or any care, frankly) to our nation’s heroes has been well-documented. But, what has escaped attention (until now) is that while the VA claimed it didn’t have the money to finish its hospital project in Aurora, the beleagured organization continued to spend thousands on “unnecessary junkets and artwork”. For example, a VA center in California has paid $6.3 million for artwork and consulting services, following the department’s $1.8 million purchase of artwork in September 2014. The VA also has spent $33.4 million on travel to swank conferences. That’s not chump change, folks.
- An Orange River Runs Through It: The Animas River. Perhaps you’ve heard of this disaster? The EPA contaminated it, and then, denied responsibility. To date, the EPA has spent $8 million cleaning up its own mess, and that figure is expected to grow.
- Spending Rage: The Colorado Department of Transportation erected billboards all across the state with bizarre saying like “Life or Death” or “Brain Damage”. Then, later CDOT added a seatbelt with the tagline “Buckle Up”. The $200,000 campaign tried to engage drivers asking why they thought the billboards were there, but received withering responses like, “how bout spending money on the potholes and not spending money on signs with secret meaning” or “I prefer to keep my eyes on the road when driving rather than reading signs”. Ouch.
- Riding in the Government’s Whips: Colorado Ramblin’ Express received nearly $50,000 to “provide comfortable, reliable, and affordable daily casino shuttle trips to Colorado’s casinos”. Sounds like a great ride, except that the money given to this organization originally was meant to provide transportation to intercity areas using charter buses, according to the original grant, the Intercity Bus Security Grant Program. We are going to guess that intercity does not include a trip to Blackhawk.
- The Sheep Jumped Over the Moon: Colorado State University received a $1.2 million grant to study the effects of space travel on sheep. For that hefty sum, the school isn’t actually launching sheep into space, but fitting them with anti-gravity braces and monitoring them for ill-effects, which have already been studied extensively in humans. Well, at least they aren’t using discarded fetuses (what? we didn’t say “baby parts”) again.
Just remember these obscene wastes of money (and the other 94) when politicians cry that they don’t have enough money to cover the country’s expenses. Sure, these are all drops in the bucket compared to our deficit, but let’s not even consider increasing taxes until this wastefulness is corrected.