7 Heroically Dumb Projects The Government Blew Your Taxes On

The government is one of those necessary evils. Nobody likes being told what to do, but we do like working street lights and not being eaten by our fellow humans, so it's important to have a governing infrastructure in place. However, the government is terrible at other aspects of its job, most notably the "not spending money like a goddamn lunatic" aspect. The people tasked with running our country have wasted so much money over the years on so many stupid things, it's amazing there's anything left to spend (or, it would be amazing, if the government didn't print its own money, which is probably part of the problem).


Penis Pumps Cost Medicare Double The Market Price

Arkansas Health Care Access Foundation

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Before those magic blue pills burst onto the scene, penis pumps were the only real option for men who required a bit of assistance to get up to get down. Sex, it is well known, sells, which is why companies set the price tag super high for these coveted devices.

Albert Moll (NSFW)

Regardless of what country you buy them in, the instructions are always in German.

But after the introduction of the far more subtle pills, the manufacturers of these pumps dropped their prices drastically. A development which Medicare promptly ignored, continuing to shell out payments for the pumps based on the previous fee schedules. This was ultimately more than twice as much as the market price, leading to 14 million wasted dollars a year.

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Eventually someone found out about it, and the government cut penis pumps from the Medicare program entirely. Some might say we never should have been paying for old people to have sex in the first place, but old people already have so little. Let them have their boners.

The Military Spends Billions On Planes That Never Get Used


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Speaking of not being able to get it up, did you know the U.S. has a bad habit of paying millions of dollars for badass planes and then not using them? Because they do that. All. The. Time. Our government's reckless spending on planes has gotten so bad we should probably start thinking about staging an intervention.


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Buying things won't make you happy, Uncle Sam.

In 2013, having ordered a bushel of fancy new cargo planes, the U.S. Air Force realized they didn't have a single use for them. But because it was too late to pull the plug on the whole deal, they allowed the construction of the planes to finish and changed the shipping address for them to Middle-Of-Fucking-Nowhere, The Desert.

United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency

It's apparently quite comfortable in the winter.

And then there's the $86 million we spent on a dope-ass spy plane to combat the out-of-control Afghan drug trade. Except the DEA didn't really know how to make one of those. Which led to the program's bill quadrupling. Which led to the construction taking a really long time. Long enough for the DEA to get bored and leave Afghanistan before it was done. Now that blushingly expensive aircraft is sitting in a storage hangar in Delaware, which is only slightly more dignified than detonating it on a barge in the middle of the ocean.

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Oh, and speaking of Afghanistan ...

The Government Dumps Millions Of Dollars Into Boats, Shitty Buildings, And Goats For Afghanistan


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Afghanistan needs money. Lots of it, and for a long time. Without significant foreign aid, the country's security and police force will collapse, plummeting the country into chaos and poverty. You'll be glad to know that the U.S. already provides a lot of this aid. You will not be glad to know it is often hilariously misspent.

Like the $3 million the U.S. spent on a cold- and dry-storage facility that no one wanted to use. Or the $456,669 training facility built for training the police that was so shoddy the walls literally fell apart in the rain. And then, presumably with their walls and shoes getting wet, the Afghan police were surprised to find the American government addressing the situation by buying them boats.


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After all, Afghanistan is famous for its canals and beaches.

So, yeah, those boats didn't get used either.

But that's all just regular bungling compared to the $6 million the Pentagon spent on rare Italian goats for the country. This isn't quite as insane as it sounds; it was an attempt to jump-start the country's cashmere industry, and the contractor they were working with in the country claimed the goats had created 350 jobs. But a later investigation raised its eyebrows at that claim and suggested that oversight of this program was so poor they couldn't be sure the goats hadn't simply been sold or eaten.

Six-million-dollar kebabs, folks. Well done.

America Spent $1 Billion Teaching Abstinence To People In Africa


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The effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education is, at best, hotly contested.


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Some of these kids are fucking in front of you, right now.

But for a variety of ideological reasons, its use has expanded significantly in America in the past few decades, generally driven by conservative leaders at various levels of government. It was this same thinking that led the Bush administration, desiring to halt the rapid spread of AIDS in Africa, to extend America's cock-blocking sex-ed program to the continent, allocating $1.3 billion to a program that included heavy promotion of abstinence-based methods.

Grady Reese/iStock

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"Just hold their hands but, like, really tightly."

Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, the program failed. Hardcore. A comprehensive 10-year study of the program showed that people receiving the training showed absolutely no difference in their age of first sexual contact, number of partners, or risk of teen pregnancy. Again, that's after America dumped $1.3 billion into abstinence education. That could have bought a heck of a lot of condoms. Or, you know, inclusive, realistic education about the prevention of STDs.

Countless Dollars Are Spent To Maintain Empty, Decaying Buildings


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The United States government spends billions of dollars to maintain empty and decaying buildings across the country. We could almost stop right there, but this revelation somehow gets worse the deeper you dig.

Kerstin Waurick/iStock

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At least our decaying planes look kind of cool.

Selling these buildings could pay off our debt or go toward buying more cool spy planes or goats or whatever, but still the government refuses. The problem essentially is bureaucracy; to sell these buildings, we'd first have to clean them up, remove the asbestos, vacuum up all the syringes, etc. Then, other government agencies, including state and local groups, would get a chance to look at the buildings to see if they wanted to use them for anything. If none of those groups can come up with a reason to hang onto the buildings (and it doesn't even have to be an immediate or realistic reason), another law requires that homeless advocacy groups then get a chance to take a look at disused federal properties to see if they can be turned into shelters. So for most of the agencies who own these rundown future crime scenes, it's simply easier to say, "Fuck it, we'll use it someday," shut off the lights, and never speak of them again.

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Worse, it's damn near impossible to know how many of these buildings there are. The only central record for them, the Federal Real Property File, is notoriously inaccurate. It has buildings listed as empty that aren't empty, buildings listed as full that are actually abandoned and probably haunted, and at least one building marked as being in excellent condition that has a fucking tree growing out of the roof.

Fox News

We'll be expecting an American Horror Story/Extreme Makeover: Government Edition crossover any day now.

The Government Pays Sports Teams To Advertise The Military

Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III/US Air Force

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If you're a sports fan (and it's OK if you're not, nerd), you may have noticed an increase in highly visible displays of patriotism at sporting events over the past 15 years or so. Prominent displays of the troops, pregame flyovers, fireworks, and things like that.


And roughly 1 trillion of these.

Would you be surprised to learn that the owners of these teams like money? Would you be surprised to know they like it more than America? Because they do! In fact, sports teams and leagues across the country have taken millions of dollars to display "paid patriotism" like this. These include ceremonial first pitches, troop enlistment ceremonies, and also, oh cool, exclusive visits from cheerleaders in suites for officers. Basically, any time you see your favorite team giving a war veteran the chance to throw the first pitch, the government has just paid the equivalent of a luxury coupe to do so. Whether or not you agree that the military is a brand is irrelevant, because the government absolutely treats it like one.

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America Spends Billions To Maintain Computer Systems That Are Older Than You

Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd/Air National Guard

It's no secret that the government is kind of a stubborn old fart when it comes to technology, clinging to their pagers and fax machines and massive monocolor monitors while the rest of the world is bathing in touchscreens and smartphones. What isn't quite so apparent is just how much money they're spending to cling to the best computers 1991 has to offer.


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In a few short years, the Social Security Administration's computers will be eligible for benefits themselves.

The government spends a whopping $80 billion on their technology maintenance budget. Some of that is probably justified -- gotta get those crumbs out of the keyboard somehow -- but a lot of it is going toward maintaining critically outdated and dangerously insecure systems. And it's a problem that's only going to get worse as these systems become more and more obsolete.

The government has plans to upgrade all this stuff, but would you believe it, it's a slow and expensive process. It will take years, decades even, before they're able to upgrade to current, supportable systems and dump all the old garbage, probably in a garage sale. Which means if you've got any eight-inch floppies or a BlackBerry lying around, maybe hang on to them. The government might be willing to pay you a couple billion dollars for them pretty soon.

Carolyn wastes her time on Twitter.

Also check out 20 Times Tax Money Was Flushed Down The Toilet and 5 Projects You Won't Believe the US Government Is Working On.

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