Sen. Tom Coburn’s office has been compiling a report on some of the most egregious examples of government waste for a few years now, and the “nearly $30 billion in questionable and lower-priority spending in Wastebook 2013 is a small fraction of the more than $200 billion we throw away every year through fraud, waste, duplication and mismanagement.” Whatever other hand-wringing our elected representatives may do over the billions of dollars that should-or-should-not be cut from food stamps, or sequestration, or what have you, there is plenty of federal waste there for the axing if politicians could just get their collective act together and make a priority out of it. The instant classics from last year’s Wastebook included $27 million for Moroccan pottery classes at the Agency for International Development and a university grant to the tune of several hundred thousands dollars for experiments with robotic squirrels, and sadly, some of this year’s headliners are just as facepalm-worthy:

Uncle Sam Looking for Romance on the Web – (NEH) $914,000

The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.” …

Government Study Finds Out Wives Should Calm Down (NIH) $325,525

If your wife is angry at you and you don’t want her to stay that way, you might avoid passing along the findings of this government study. Wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands, according to government-funded research. …

Federally Funded Solar Panels Covered at Manchester-Boston Airport Because the Glare Blinds Pilots and Controllers (FAA) – $3.5 million

When officials at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire installed new solar panels, they did not anticipate one quarter of them would not be used 18 months later. In Spring 2012, the panels were placed on top of the airport’s parking garage, and 25 percent have remained there, covered with a tarp, rendering them useless. Problems with the new panels were noticed almost immediately by air traffic controllers who claimed that for 45 minutes each day, glare made it difficult to oversee the airport’s runways.

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