Starting With A Clean Slate

So here comes 2012 – time to get on with life, and start out on the right foot – with a clean slate!  Like, f’rinstance, cleaning up some of the totally incredible government boondoggles to which the politicians have been committing your tax dollars.  And we thank Senator Tom Coburn for compiling his annual report:  2011 Wastebook, which cites scores of these fiascoes.  Some of our favorites:

  1. Video Game Preservation – Now we’re history fans, but is it really necessary for Uncle to hand over more than $100 grand to The International Center for the History of Electronic Games, which, among other things, collects such important contributions to the common weal as Pac Man and Donkey Kong?
  2. Remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan – There went a four year grant of $20 million to Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, to create “130 episodes of an indigenously produced Sesame Street.”
  3. A cool $550,000 of your dough will fund a “documentary” entitled “Rockin’ the Kremlin,” showing how rock and roll contributed to ending the Cold War.
  4. And quite a modest amount, actually, (only $48,700) was awarded in 2011 to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to help support the “emerging Hawaiian cacao industry and provide outreach during the 2nd annual Hawaiian Chocolate Festival.  (Query:  will Michelle and Barack be attending?)
  5. Speaking of our beloved president and his administration, let’s hear it for the $937,000 doled out by his Commerce Department to create a web-based television series all of us have been clamoring for:  “Diary of a Single Mom,” which chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families in trying deal with all of their life obstacles.
  6. And how did we ever get along without truly understanding how cocaine enhances the sex lives of the Japanese quail?  Surely worth the $175,587 spent to study.
  7. All locals can embrace the need to spend $86,014 to create a new exhibit in a New Hampshire ski museum, to tell the story of skiing from the Stone Age to the present day.
  8. And lest Nevada be left off of the dole list, there went $60 grand in federal funds to pay for a tree survey and inventory in Henderson.  A laudable goal, indeed:  to develop a “comprehensive tree maintenance plan.”
  9. Here’s one: $6,279 spent by the Department of Homeland Security to purchase snow cone ice making machines in Michigan for use in treating heat exhaustion and other illnesses during large events!

10.  And let’s not forget the arts:  $30,000 from the State Department to send eight members of a New York dance company to Indonesia for a week, to perform and hold “workshops.”

11.  And while you’re not traveling and just stuck at home, don’t forget to check out the $600,000 Columbia University study of how heterosexuals meet on the Internet.

12.  Getting back to tangible entertainment media, kiss goodbye over $74 grand of your dough, awarded to The Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah to encourage kids to learn the art of puppetry!

13.  And our favorite:  nearly $600 grand to Agnes Scott College and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to study that age-old question:  why chimpanzees throw feces at passersby.

Happy New Year!

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and

Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He can be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at jquinn@ashleyquinncpas.com, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at http://blog.nolo.com/taxes.

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