Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 20 82_WOTD_wk_20

July 2, 2021 10:28 AM



With a $40.9 Billion Endowment, Harvard Gets $22 Million in Federal Work Study Funding | June 28, 2021


Harvard received $22.2 million from 2016 until present from the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Work Study Program. The federally funded financial aid program is for U.S. citizens and permanent residents in college and working part time.

While the program benefits students, it also benefits employers — whether the university itself or an outside employer — by giving the subsidy to employers to help pay the student employee.

About 3,400 postsecondary institutions participate, including Harvard, which has a $40.9 billion endowment, the largest such collegiate fund in the country.

That large sum raises the question: should wealthy private universities like Harvard benefit from the federal taxpayer-funded program that subsidizes its cost to employ students?

That question is especially important since Harvard isn’t only employing students in jobs that will help advance their career but in manual labor jobs like cleaning wealthy students dorm rooms.

Harvard could employ students, pay the full rate without any assistance from the federal government and still have quite a pot of money left for the rest of its spending.

Harvard can’t make the argument that it needs government help and should lighten the load on the U.S. taxpayer.


Yet Another Study on Marketing Tobacco Products Costs Taxpayers $18.4 Million | June 29, 2021


The University of Pennsylvania, with its $14.6 billion endowment, has collected $2.9 billion in grants since 2017, including $18.4 million since 2013 to study tobacco product marketing.

That large sum came from the National Institutes of Health to study “tobacco product messaging in a complex communication environment.”

The world knows the dangers of smoking – do we need an $18.4 million study to look at product messaging? And will that study have any effect at all on the remaining smokers?

Probably not.

And since Penn is an Ivy League college with a massive endowment, shouldn’t they be paying their own way without taxpayer help?


Kingdom of Lesotho Receives $5.1 Million From U.S. Taxpayers Through an Ivy League College | June 30, 2021


Columbia University has a $10.9 billion endowment, yet it received more in federal grants since 2017 than any other Ivy League school: $3.9 billion.

The Lions collected $5.1 million since 2019 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight HIV/AIDS in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The grant is to “support strategic information activities in the South African country of the Kingdom of Lesotho under PEPFAR.” PEPFAR stands for "The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief," which is an American initiative to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The program supports HIV and tuberculosis care and treatment programs in the four districts of districts of Berea, Leribe, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek. It also supports nursing and midwifery education and two research studies looking at HIV prevention among couples and a trial among tuberculosis patients.

Bottom line?

Columbia University has dialed itself into even more taxpayer subsidies by attaching itself as a federal contractor. If the university really had an interest in preventing AIDS in the Kingdom of Lesotho, it should pay for it from the school’s nearly $11 billion endowment.



$3 Million Federal Study: Do People Prefer Recycled Water, Bottled Water, or Tap Water? | July 1, 2021


Throwback Thursday! 

If you’ve ever wondered which tastes better, recycled wastewater, bottled water or tap water, a 2018 study has the answers.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, published the study on which type of water tasted better. The study was funded with $3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation between 2012 and 2016.

The researchers asked 143 people to select which they preferred, with tap water being the least popular, while recycled water and bottled water scored about the same.

The study’s organizers noted that participants had to address the “ick” factor of drinking recycled water treated using reverse osmosis.

Indirect potable reuse, or IDR, removes virtually all contaminants, studies have found, and reintroduces treated wastewater into groundwater supplies, where it re-enters the drinking water system.

It’s a technology already used by six California water agencies, including in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and the city of Los Angeles.

Drinking recycled wastewater is helpful in California, which has struggled with droughts. So, while the water’s safety has been the subject of many studies, the University of California, Riverside felt it was time to evaluate its taste.

The study’s 143 people were presented with the three types of waters in similar, unlabeled cups and rated them from one to five based on texture, temperature, smell and color.

$3 million later and we know that people don’t hate the taste of recycled water. 



It Costs Taxpayers $1.4 Million to Encourage Latinas to Go Walking
 | July 2, 2021


After more than a year of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, who can say they don’t appreciate a good walk?

But spending $1.4 million of taxpayer money to encourage Latinas to go for walks may be taking it a bit too far.

The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities gave the funding in two parts to Klein Buendel, Inc. to create a “location-based app that will help Latinas connect with nearby walking partners.”

Klein Buendel, Inc. spokesperson Valerie Myers said, “Caminemos Juntas! will be the first app that use geo-location technology dedicated to walking with a social emphasis, for any population.”

The Golden, Colo.-based Klein Buendel, Inc. has received over $42 million in federal grants since 2008. The company describes itself as “a small woman-owned health communication research and technology firm that designs, develops, and evaluates public health interventions in collaboration with academic, public, and private partners.”

Encouraging all people to walk is good — good for their health, lowering blood pressure, helping them lose weight and preventing things like heart disease and stroke.

But should cheerleading a walking app to Latinas cost taxpayers $1.4 million?

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

Back to news
Sign the Petition