Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 32 111_week_32

September 24, 2021 10:28 AM


10 States Owe Uncle Sam $1 Billion in Interest Payments on $45.6 Billion in Borrowed Unemployment Funds | September 20, 2021


While unemployment checks seem to magically appear in bank accounts every month for millions of Americans collecting the benefits, that money comes with major strings attached for the states funding them.

Ten states and U.S. Virgin Islands owe the federal government $45.6 billion for unemployment funds — at an interest rate of 2.3 percent.

These states owe more than $1 billion per year in interest payments alone.

When states ran out of their own money, Uncle Sam lent them cash to pay their out-of-work residents — called Title XII advances — money initially coming interest-free. But starting Sept. 13, the remaining balances must be paid with interest, according to reporting at

Now 10 states must cough up what they owe with interest — California, $19.5 billion plus interest; Colorado $1 billion; Connecticut $725,000; Illinois $4.2 billion; Massachusetts $2.3 billion; Minnesota $1 billion; New Jersey $193,000; New York $8.9 billion; Pennsylvania $721,000; Texas $6.9 billion; and the U.S. territory, the Virgin Islands $96,000.

Ohio, Hawaii, Nevada, and West Virginia recently paid off their debts before the interest kicked in, with some states using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to repay the loans.

Since unemployment benefits are funded by taxes levied on businesses, those 10 states could see big tax hikes on employers next year.

California state government declared a $75 billion budget surplus last year. Colorado declared a $3.8 billion budget surplus last year. So, why do these states owe the federal government for unemployment benefits?

The vicious cycle of borrowing, spending, and hiking taxes is not only a waste of taxpayer money. It's a cycle that’s avoidable with responsible government.


Study: $290,921 In Taxpayer Money Spent to Learn That Your Beard Blunts a Punch to the Face | September 21, 2021


Human men have evolved to have beards to better absorb a punch to the face, according to a University of Utah research paper. That research cost taxpayers up to $290,921. Research funded, in part, through by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The three male researchers tested their hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from such punches.

They didn’t take punches to the face but created a fake face — fiber epoxy composite in place of bone, sheep skin in place of human skin, and sheared or not sheared to replicate a man with a beard and a man without one.

They used a weight to hit the “face,” measuring the impact, and found that fully-furred skin could absorb more energy than sheared skin.

“Some authors have proposed that the beard may function similar to the long hair of a lion’s mane, serving to protect vital areas like the throat and jaw from lethal attacks,” the researchers wrote. “These data support the hypothesis that human beards protect vulnerable regions of the facial skeleton from damaging strikes.”

Their “groundbreaking” work in the field of facial hair won them the IG Nobel peace prize from the Annals of Improbable Research magazine, in addition to a place on our list of wasteful scientific research.

Federal Government Sitting On at Least $1.4 Trillion in Covid-19 Aid | September 22, 2021


While Congress and two presidents have allocated $4.7 trillion in Covid-19 aid — a number that may actually be as high as $5.4 trillion — at least $1.4 trillion of that is still unspent.

According to, which tracks spending, only $3.3 trillion, 69% of the $4.7 trillion, has been spent as of July 31, leaving another $1.4 trillion.

That’s nearly $1 of every $3 is still unspent in COVID aid already allocated by Congress. A stunning amount of money considering that it’s the equivalent to all federal grant-making annually ($700 billion) and the entire Defense Department annual budget ($715 billion).

The Department of Labor is sitting on $218.5 billion in unspent Covid-19 funds; the Department of Homeland Security is holding onto $92.5 billion; U.S. Treasury has $261.3 billion and the Department of Education is sitting on $237.4 billion.

Included in that is about $44 billion from a Provider Relief Fund and $8.5 billion that Congress allocated in March for medical care in rural areas. Those funds are untouched because the administration of President Joe Biden hasn’t released the money, according to the Washington Post.

That’s after Biden signed an executive order on his inauguration day in January 2021 to make it easier for Americans to get treatment if infected.

The delay is putting a further strain on places already hurt financially by the pandemic, the Washington Post reported, including Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital in Dixon, Illinois, a rural community about 100 miles west of Chicago.

“I don’t want to seem non-grateful,” David L. Schreiner, the hospital’s president and chief executive told WaPo, “but it didn’t come close to what we needed.” 

The newspaper reported that last summer, the hospital furloughed 124 of its approximately 1,000 employees and cut doctors and administrators’ pay by 10%.

Congress and the Biden administration should account for the unspent funds before agreeing to spend even more money on aid.


Groundbreaking Study Cost Taxpayers $207,230: Cooking Eggs Takes 30 Seconds | September 23, 2021


Throwback Thursday! 

In 1977, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent nearly $46,000, an inflation-adjusted $207,230 in today's dollars, to find out how long it takes to cook breakfast.

Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the USDA a Golden Fleece award, deeming the funds a waste of taxpayer money.

The study looked at how long it took to fry two eggs for breakfast. It’s unclear why the study analyzed two eggs rather than, say, one egg.

The verdict was 838 time measurement units, or TMUs (one TMU equals .036 seconds).

That’s 30 seconds to fry two eggs, which must have been over easy.

Not since that iconic courtroom scene in “My Cousin Vinny” where attorney Vinny Gambini, played by Joe Pesci, cross examines a witness about watching a crime unfold has the time spent cooking breakfast been so scrutinized.

Sam Tipton, played by Maury Chaykin, claimed there wasn’t enough time for Bill Gambini, played by Ralph Macchio, and Stan Rothenstein, played by Mitchell Whitfield, to have left the store and for another duo of men to arrive and shoot the clerk.

After all, he was cooking a breakfast of eggs and grits and it only took him about five minutes.

“No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits,” he tells Vinny Gambini when prompted, which leads the street-smart lawyer to determine the witness must have been cooking breakfast for far longer than five minutes.

“How could it take you five minutes to cook your grits, when it takes the entire grit-eating world 20 minutes?”

While such an endeavor can elicit a chuckle from even the most serious of cooks, it doesn’t seem that spending $207,230 to determine it takes 30 seconds to fry two eggs was worth the money.


City of Chicago Aldermen Give Themselves 5.5-Percent Pay Hikes Amid Pandemic
 | September 24, 2021


Forty-four Chicago aldermen — including three who are facing criminal charges — will collect 5.5% pay raises on Jan.1, bringing 30 of them over the $130,000 mark.

The lowest paid will collect more than $115,000, with handful just shy of making $130,000, The Chicago Tribune reported.

That’s as the median household income in Chicago in 2019, the latest year available from the Data USA, was $61,811.

Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson was indicted in April on charges of filing allegedly false tax returns and lying about bank loans; Edward Burke, is awaiting trial on alleged federal racketeering charges; and Carrie Austin was indicted in Julyon alleged federal bribery charges.

Six aldermen declined the annual pay hike, including Ald. Raymond Lopez, who said it was “morally and politically wrong” to take a pay hike when residents in his ward are struggling. He also turned down the 2021 raise.

While the aldermen will see a 5.5% pay raise, private sector wages in Chicago grew by 3% for the last year ending in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The pay increase, which is tied to the Consumer Price Index, will be the highest percentage in more than a decade, the Tribune reported.

The automatic yearly raises that aldermen give themselves are supposed to help them avoid politically fraught votes to raise their pay.

But the automatic raises don’t insulate them from criticism, especially given that six of them declined the pay. The other 44 could have done the same.

The Tribune editorial board blasted the raises, saying, “Automatic raises for politicians insult the public. Elected officials who want more money for themselves should be required to explain why and vote up or down on it.”

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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