'Poems In Zoos' Makes Wasteful Government Spending List

December 28, 2010 - 3:00 PM

Sen. Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has released a guide to what he believes to be some of the government’s most wasteful spending projects of 2010. The list includes poems in zoos, a museum of Grateful Dead memorabilia and a graveyard for neon signs.

In his introduction to the “Wastebook 2010” report, Coburn writes: “As 2010 ends, millions of Americans are still struggling to find work. Even those lucky enough to have jobs have had to tighten their belts and trim household budgets. For some this has meant cutting out luxuries; for others, having to make tough choices between necessities. For everyone it means taking stock of what they can really afford.

“Is it so much to expect Congress do the same?” he asked.

The senator urges Congress not to spend money on unneeded items, such as the over “$11.5 billion of examples provided” in his report.

Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2010” include:

-- The city of Las Vegas has received a $5.2 million federal grant to build the Neon Boneyard Park and Museum, including $1.8 million in 2010. For over the last decade, Museum supporters have gathered and displayed over 150 old Las Vegas neon signs, such as the Golden Nugget and Silver Slipper casinos.

-- The U.S. Department of Energy‘s electric bill is $190 million a year and auditors say millions of dollars are wasted on inefficient lighting. According to a U.S. Department of Energy Inspector General report released in June, the Department [of Energy] could save over $2.2 million in electric utility operating costs annually, by turning off the lights and using more efficient technology.

-- The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the University of California at Santa Cruz $615,000 federal funds to digitize Grateful Dead photographs, tickets, backstage passes, flyers, shirts, and other memorabilia.

-- A federal grant program has directed a million dollars to infuse zoos around the United States with snippets of poetry. The Little Rock Zoo now touts a sign sharing a bit of wisdom from Hans Christian Andersen, "Just living is not enough, said the butterfly. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." Zoos in Chicago, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Jacksonville, Florida, will also sport bits of poetry under this program.