Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK) provides a helpful focus on wasteful spending in the US government. He just released his annual Wastebook.
At Politico a few top examples:
… 3. $17.5 million in brothel tax exemptions: Coburn says that through the tax code, $17.5 million has gone to brothels in Nevada that have claimed tax exemptions for everything from breast implants to “free passes” that were deemed part of promotional costs and eligible for deductions by the IRS.
4. $50 million “Google searches”: Coburn attributes $50 million to National Technical Information Services, an agency that charges for reports that often can be found for free through a Google search. Coburn calls NTIS, which is part of the Department of Commerce, antiquated, as it was created at a time when information wasn’t as readily available. He noted that about 74 percent of its reports had information available in public sources. Additionally, a CD-ROM for which the agency charges $79 contains information that is also available for free on the Internet.
… 7. $285,000 for rock ’n’ roll : For the first time, the federal government’s “trade arm” funded the music industry as the American Association of Independent Music received $284,300 this year from the International Trade Administration. The funding allowed 12 music label executives — joined by one government official — to travel to Rio to promote music in foreign markets. Coburn, calling it the “the Indie Rock Music Execs World Tour,” says the group also had a side trip to Sugarloaf Mountain.
8. $10,000 “Pole” dancing: Through a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a group called PowerUP Project features the linemen and electrical technicians of an Austin, Texas, power company who engage in performance art in a choreographed “ninety minute dance with bucket trucks, cranes and field trucks, and a set of 20 utility poles, all set before a live audience.”