Can you tell which of these government spending projects are real or fake?

August 12, 2010

Joke-telling robots, expensive walking tunnels, Blackberries for smokers, and training American prostitutes to drink responsibly. What do these things have in common?  They’re all questionable government spending projects in a time when our economy is struggling and people can’t get jobs.…or, maybe we just made them up.

Put yourself to the test.  Click below to watch our man-on-the-street video.  See if you can outwit the Rebel Economist before she stumps you. So what is it: REAL or FAKE?

Want to learn more about the projects featured in the video, the waste in your state and hundreds more examples? (Even better: want to do something about it?) Try our Spending #FAIL Map, which allows you to choose the spending projects of your (dis)liking, share the facts with others on Facebook, and call and tweet your member of Congress.

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Source List:

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Project Cost: $712,883

Northwestern University received $712,883 to develop a model of machine-generated humor.  The project will “create intelligent comedic performance agents and deploy them both on- and off-line for the enjoyment and illumination of everyday citizens.”

Source: http://www.research.northwestern.edu/stimulus/hammond.html

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Project Cost: $3.4 million

A project to build a tunnel for turtles to pass under a Florida highway has received $3.4 million in stimulus funds.  The millions are, as reported, still not enough to completely finance the project.

Source: http://www.wcjb.com/news/4125/3-4-million-of-federal-stimulus-money-to-pay-for-turtle-tunnel

Location: Washington, DC

Project Cost: $1 million

Almost $1 million in stimulus funds were used to give out free BlackBerry smartphones to people trying to stop smoking.  The phones will reportedly make it easier for those trying to quit to access a support network.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/tech/2010/02/11/levs.free.blackberries.smokers.cnn

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Project Cost: $2.6 million

A five-year $2.6 million grant (2008) will help a Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher establish and evaluate whether an alcohol and HIV intervention center can assist in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among sex workers in China.

Source: http://prognosis.med.wayne.edu/article/grant-allows-research-to-study-link-between-alcohol-abuse-and-spread-of-hiv

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32 Responses to Can you tell which of these government spending projects are real or fake?

  1. Rich K says:

    FYI: its Blackberry’s when referring to multiples of the PDA, blackberries when referring to multiples of the fruit.

  2. Rich K says:

    FYI: its Blackberry’s when referring to multiples of the PDA, blackberries when referring to multiples of the fruit.

  3. tbone walker says:

    well it is “it’s” when referring to “it is” and “its” when referring to the possessive.

  4. tbone walker says:

    well it is “it’s” when referring to “it is” and “its” when referring to the possessive.

  5. SHTF Mac says:

    Three and a half million here, 700 grand there… who’s counting anymore? We’ve got over $100 trillion in liabilities over the next 30 years…

    No way we’re going to cut enough spending to make a dent in that.

    A collapse of the world as we know it is inevitable at this point. US debt is no longer serviceable. It’s just a matter of time before our creditors cut their losses and walk away… Essentially we have two solutions: either default or we print FRN’s to infinity and hyperinflate away our debt. Neither one bodes well for our future.

    SHTF Mac

  6. SHTF Mac says:

    Three and a half million here, 700 grand there… who’s counting anymore? We’ve got over $100 trillion in liabilities over the next 30 years…

    No way we’re going to cut enough spending to make a dent in that.

    A collapse of the world as we know it is inevitable at this point. US debt is no longer serviceable. It’s just a matter of time before our creditors cut their losses and walk away… Essentially we have two solutions: either default or we print FRN’s to infinity and hyperinflate away our debt. Neither one bodes well for our future.

    SHTF Mac

  7. Micha Elyi says:

    “The bigger the government, the bigger and darker is the shadow over the people.”

    (Or is it “Shadow,” capitalized?)

    Remember Sen. Proxmire and his Golden Fleece Awards? Those old boondoggles sound almost sane in comparison to those Obama-era “shovel-ready” programs. The video is more evidence that government spending can be cut and cut again without getting anywhere near any genuinely necessary gristle, muscle, and bone.

  8. Micha Elyi says:

    “The bigger the government, the bigger and darker is the shadow over the people.”

    (Or is it “Shadow,” capitalized?)

    Remember Sen. Proxmire and his Golden Fleece Awards? Those old boondoggles sound almost sane in comparison to those Obama-era “shovel-ready” programs. The video is more evidence that government spending can be cut and cut again without getting anywhere near any genuinely necessary gristle, muscle, and bone.

  9. William says:

    Funny how she doesn’t mention wasting hundreds of billions in Iraq and Afghanistan helping people who hate us, kill our troops, and will most likely use those two invasions to rationalize horrible acts of terror around the world for decades to come. Billions have yet to even be accounted for! Hell, we were flying pallets of $100 bills into Baghdad for God’s sake! Afghans took advantage of our elimination of the Taliban to become the #1 exporter of society destroying heroin! Heroin that will most likely cost us billions in new prison construction, staffing, and rehab programs. We give many millions in aid to Pakistan and even North Korea. Both full of seething hatred for us and both NUCLEAR ARMED! We maintain expensive bases and units around the world in countries like the UK, Italy, Germany, and Japan that I’m pretty convinced are both stable and can defend themselves from a few guys with box cutters.

  10. William says:

    Funny how she doesn’t mention wasting hundreds of billions in Iraq and Afghanistan helping people who hate us, kill our troops, and will most likely use those two invasions to rationalize horrible acts of terror around the world for decades to come. Billions have yet to even be accounted for! Hell, we were flying pallets of $100 bills into Baghdad for God’s sake! Afghans took advantage of our elimination of the Taliban to become the #1 exporter of society destroying heroin! Heroin that will most likely cost us billions in new prison construction, staffing, and rehab programs. We give many millions in aid to Pakistan and even North Korea. Both full of seething hatred for us and both NUCLEAR ARMED! We maintain expensive bases and units around the world in countries like the UK, Italy, Germany, and Japan that I’m pretty convinced are both stable and can defend themselves from a few guys with box cutters.

  11. LafenMom says:

    This is what happens when something gets too big to adequately pay attention to.

    We, the citizens of this country, need to slow down and pay attention. Why, in this day and age, is the record keeping of our public funds, not available for anyone to review via computer?

    Some would say that it’s state secrets we don’t want to share with other countries. Don’t we put ourselves out as a model of how the rest of the world should run? What’s wrong with allowing everyone to see how taxes are collected and distributed?

    Why, also, can we not have ‘nanny cams’ in every public office in this country? We pay for these offices, we have nanny cams on us – are their conversations and activities which take place in the offices we pay for, so secretive that we could not sit in on them?

    As to our economy – a couple of quick fixes -
    - Quit giving money to other countries for a while
    - Bring our military home from all points, and use them (and the funds) to work on our infrastructure, and replace ‘home land security’ guards and other poorly trained para-military government employees
    - Dismantle government entities, such as the Dept of Energy, that have not, or no longer, serve their original purpose.

  12. LafenMom says:

    This is what happens when something gets too big to adequately pay attention to.

    We, the citizens of this country, need to slow down and pay attention. Why, in this day and age, is the record keeping of our public funds, not available for anyone to review via computer?

    Some would say that it’s state secrets we don’t want to share with other countries. Don’t we put ourselves out as a model of how the rest of the world should run? What’s wrong with allowing everyone to see how taxes are collected and distributed?

    Why, also, can we not have ‘nanny cams’ in every public office in this country? We pay for these offices, we have nanny cams on us – are their conversations and activities which take place in the offices we pay for, so secretive that we could not sit in on them?

    As to our economy – a couple of quick fixes -
    - Quit giving money to other countries for a while
    - Bring our military home from all points, and use them (and the funds) to work on our infrastructure, and replace ‘home land security’ guards and other poorly trained para-military government employees
    - Dismantle government entities, such as the Dept of Energy, that have not, or no longer, serve their original purpose.

  13. PJW says:

    the end is near….

  14. PJW says:

    the end is near….

  15. H.Finn says:

    “Funny how she doesn’t mention wasting hundreds of billions in Iraq and Afghanistan helping people who hate us, kill our troops…” William

    Exactly, also note none of the other absurd waste that went on during the Bush years are mentioned… I am for fiscal accountability, but not just when it is convenient for one party or the other. The contractor waste, fraud and corruption tied to the Bush administration is monumental…yet not a peep out of the Tea Party folks.
    Total hypocrisy.

  16. H.Finn says:

    “Funny how she doesn’t mention wasting hundreds of billions in Iraq and Afghanistan helping people who hate us, kill our troops…” William

    Exactly, also note none of the other absurd waste that went on during the Bush years are mentioned… I am for fiscal accountability, but not just when it is convenient for one party or the other. The contractor waste, fraud and corruption tied to the Bush administration is monumental…yet not a peep out of the Tea Party folks.
    Total hypocrisy.

  17. TGO says:

    Cute video, but earmarks amount to a tiny fraction of the budget deficits. The real threats are entitlements, defense spending and interest on the debt. Unfortunately, is is politically unsafe or impossible to do anything about these, while health care, insurance, and defense lobbies and special interest groups run Washington. Fretting about turtle tunnels only diverts attention from the real problems.

    When will we hear a politician admit that the government will not be able to keep the promises it has made to those “entitled”?
    What is the point of borrowing billions to fix Iraq and Afghanistan, if we end up bankrupt?

  18. TGO says:

    Cute video, but earmarks amount to a tiny fraction of the budget deficits. The real threats are entitlements, defense spending and interest on the debt. Unfortunately, is is politically unsafe or impossible to do anything about these, while health care, insurance, and defense lobbies and special interest groups run Washington. Fretting about turtle tunnels only diverts attention from the real problems.

    When will we hear a politician admit that the government will not be able to keep the promises it has made to those “entitled”?
    What is the point of borrowing billions to fix Iraq and Afghanistan, if we end up bankrupt?

  19. Patrick says:

    Artificial Intelligent comedic performance agents.
    The grant is actually to develop multi-layer artificial intelligence software using comedic humor as a development model.
    If sucessful this could open many doors for advanced technology.

  20. Patrick says:

    Artificial Intelligent comedic performance agents.
    The grant is actually to develop multi-layer artificial intelligence software using comedic humor as a development model.
    If sucessful this could open many doors for advanced technology.

  21. Patrick says:

    This Video is great! Check it out

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3C0S7yiv8

  22. Patrick says:

    This Video is great! Check it out

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3C0S7yiv8

  23. Patrick says:

    Want to Lower the Deficit and Create Jobs?
    1. Quit the WTO (world trade organization) This group of Int. Corps dictates world trade rules to benefit themselves.
    2. Quit NAFTA (national free trade agreement) This makes No import taxes so corps can outsource our jobs.
    3. Quit GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) This lowers import taxes world wide to almost nothing so corps can outsource our jobs.
    4. Raise Import Taxes!

    Bring jobs back to America and there will be no deficit.

    Just like it was in the 1960′s before Pres. Carter eliminated import tax on steel and shipped all those jobs out of America.

  24. Patrick says:

    Want to Lower the Deficit and Create Jobs?
    1. Quit the WTO (world trade organization) This group of Int. Corps dictates world trade rules to benefit themselves.
    2. Quit NAFTA (national free trade agreement) This makes No import taxes so corps can outsource our jobs.
    3. Quit GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) This lowers import taxes world wide to almost nothing so corps can outsource our jobs.
    4. Raise Import Taxes!

    Bring jobs back to America and there will be no deficit.

    Just like it was in the 1960′s before Pres. Carter eliminated import tax on steel and shipped all those jobs out of America.

  25. [...] another Bankrupting America project, people on the street were interviewed about some other crazy stimulus [...]

  26. [...] another Bankrupting America project, people on the street were interviewed about some other crazy stimulus [...]

  27. Clifton Gray says:

    Well we wont have to worry any more about America because China now owns us now. The top turn coat has given us to China by way of immanent domain. We are now Chinese socialist.

  28. Clifton Gray says:

    Well we wont have to worry any more about America because China now owns us now. The top turn coat has given us to China by way of immanent domain. We are now Chinese socialist.

  29. Nemesis says:

    Plural of Blackberry is Blackberrys.
    Never use an apostrophe to pluralize; never.
    Plural of blackberry, of course, is blackberries.

  30. Nemesis says:

    Plural of Blackberry is Blackberrys.
    Never use an apostrophe to pluralize; never.
    Plural of blackberry, of course, is blackberries.

  31. Wanda McArthur says:

    I can’t figure out why it matters now who is, or was, in the white house, except it needs to be fixed. The fact is that we have this problem, and it isn’t getting any better under either of the last presidents.

    I’ts not a Republican-Democrat thing. It’s a major problem for all of us, and blaming doesn’t change a thing. The issue is to wake people up to what is happening, and to prepare.

    We have to stop trying to place blame, and grab the bull by the horns, and figure out what to do, to turn our country around, if it isn’t to late already.

    We’ve all helped to get us to this place by spending way beyond out means. We’ve let our government grow to big, because we’ve lost the will to direct our own lives, and want the government to do it for us. Everything comes with a price tag, and More government means less freedom. That is the price tag. It’s hard for me to understand why people can’t see that.

    I can’t believe how many people won’t listen to what is going on, and just bury their head in the sand. They absolutely refuse to except that ANY thing is going on. How does a person wake these people up?

  32. Wanda McArthur says:

    I can’t figure out why it matters now who is, or was, in the white house, except it needs to be fixed. The fact is that we have this problem, and it isn’t getting any better under either of the last presidents.

    I’ts not a Republican-Democrat thing. It’s a major problem for all of us, and blaming doesn’t change a thing. The issue is to wake people up to what is happening, and to prepare.

    We have to stop trying to place blame, and grab the bull by the horns, and figure out what to do, to turn our country around, if it isn’t to late already.

    We’ve all helped to get us to this place by spending way beyond out means. We’ve let our government grow to big, because we’ve lost the will to direct our own lives, and want the government to do it for us. Everything comes with a price tag, and More government means less freedom. That is the price tag. It’s hard for me to understand why people can’t see that.

    I can’t believe how many people won’t listen to what is going on, and just bury their head in the sand. They absolutely refuse to except that ANY thing is going on. How does a person wake these people up?

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