FAT-BOTTOMED GIRLS: The National Institutes of Health spends its cash on funny projects while begging for more cash to adequately respond to pandemics. That’s concerning.
By Dustin Hurst│Watchdog.org
Imagine you had a couple billion dollars to throw around in the health science community each year and you had to prioritize projects.
Now, come up with a list of the scourges on mankind you’d tackle. What’s on that list? Ebola? HIV? Fat chicks who can’t get dates?
Anthony Fauci, a representative for the National Institutes of Health, spent much of Wednesday bellyaching on Capitol Hill about the dangers of sequester funding cuts for medical research, reductions he told senators seriously constrained NIH’s ability to respond to humanitarian disasters like the growing Ebola pandemic.
“I have to tell you honestly it’s been a significant impact on us,” Fauci said, as recounted by Mother Jones. “It has both an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats.”
If you’re of the mindset government serves as a loving caretaker of the people, you might agree that money should be spent effectively to ensure the safety of all citizens from the most imminent diseases and threats. You know, Ebola, HIV, SARS — stuff like that.
That’s why Fauci’s bellyaching, likely part of a slick public relations push by Senate Democrats in a tight election year, is rather curious. NIH spends most of its budget on serious matters, but there are large chunks of waste officials could spend more effectively.
Take Wednesday’s story from dynamic reporter Elizabeth Harrington over at Washington Free Beacon. She pulled the curtain back on NIH spending nearly $500,000 in grant money trying to figure out why fat chicks can’t get dates.
Any teenage boy could solve the puzzle for far less than half-a-million dollars.
The odd studies don’t end there, though. Harrington routinely outs some of the weirdest projects the NIH funds. Consider these:
- $480,000 to text message drunks and warn them about alcoholism
- $3.7 million to persuade Philadelphia-area barbers to talk with their clients about HIV
- $11 million for a blog about urban farming, wind turbines and other environmental issues
- $2 million to encourage elderly Californians to join choirs
- $5 million to creep on your Facebook and Twitter accounts to study drug abuse
- Nearly $375,000 for a vegetable puppet show for preschool kids
- Almost $200,000 to study how transexual women use Facebook
Other government watchdogs dog up questionable projects. The Daily Caller, for one, found $17 million in funding for a project involving Chinese hookers and sexually transmitted diseases. The Heritage Foundation revealed NIH once paid $1.3 million a month for a lab it couldn’t use due to engineering problems.
And these are just the frivolous and wasteful projects Harrington and others could find. Imagine how much waste is really out there.
The Huffington Post noted NIH’s annual funding dropped more than $600 million between 2010 and 2014. That’s a significant cut, to be sure.
But before we go off blaming Republicans and their sequester for Ebola’s spread — you know that’s coming, right? — let’s consider the work of Harrington and others.
Fauci may have a point that NIH scientists need more money to operate efficiently, but Senate Democrats behind Wednesday’s hearing didn’t ask him about the get-a-fat-chick-a-date project. Or the Chinese hookers. Or the HIV-talking barbers.
Most Americans would say NIH officials need to protect the country from threats like Ebola or SARS. There’s no denying that. Most people, though, probably wouldn’t favor spending millions of dollars on frivolous projects probably serving as some well-intentioned social engineering scheme.
Let’s focus, NIH.
Now, I’m off to grab a plate of chicken wings and study why I’m having a tough time losing weight.
I wonder if I can get $500,000 for this?