Once again, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is celebrating Festivus, the fictional non-commercial holiday popularized by TV’s Seinfeld and observed each year on Dec. 23. As required by tradition, Paul is doing an online “airing of grievances” about government waste.
Festivus, for the uninitated, is celebrated as a Christmas alternative. Created as part of the Seinfeld TV show by Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) as an answer to treacly holiday traditions, it features a Festivus pole without decorations, “Feats of Strength,” and a dinner, after which comes the annual “airing of grievances.”
The holiday was first featured in a 1997 Seinfeld episode titled The Strike, during which it was identified as “Festivus – a holiday for the rest of us.” The notion was quickly embraced by those non-traditionalists who shunned the commercial aspects of the formal Christmas holiday.
Senator Paul, one of the most unconventional Congressmen, quickly picked up on the theme, and has one again found some shocking examples of how the federal government spends.
“So here we are, another year past, another year to forget,” he wrote. “A government shutdown resolved by hiking spending; nuked budget caps; a debt over $21 trillion; and Congress okayed $1.3 trillion in new spending – all in the first three months!”
This year, Paul’s Waste Report is highlighting $114,514,631 of wasted money. “We feature an old favorite due for an update and some instant classics, like a study of daydreaming. Exactly where taxes should go, right? No matter how much federal agencies waste, politicians think they’ve never got enough. But if there’s money to waste, there’s too much already. So, before the Feats of Strength can begin, there must be an Airing of (spending) Grievance.”
Paul cites an October 2018 report from the Congressional Budget Office that showed net interest payments on the debt for fiscal year 2018 at $371 billion, or $62 billion more than the year prior. “Given such largesse, it may seem like a few million dollars is a drop in the bucket. But to borrow from a line credited to former Senator Everett Dirksen(R-IL): “A million dollars here and there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”
Overall, Paul contends, there is $114,514,631 of wasted money. “No matter how much federal agencies waste, politicians think they’ve never got enough. But if there’s money to waste, there’s too much already. So, before the Feats of Strength can begin, there must be an Airing of (spending) Grievance.”
Here are some highlights:
1. Since 2009, the State Department has allocated more than $76 million to provide stipends to the nearly non-existent Somali army.
2. The Agriculture Department spent more than $13 million to promote the already overcrowded farmers’ market industry.
3.The U.S. embassy in Rwanda spent more than $250,000 to teach citizens how to lobby.
4. The National Endowment for the Arts spent $15,000 on “theatrical research” to combat poverty.
5. NIH spent more than $800,000 to study the sex lives of quails high on cocaine.
By the way, Congress is currently in recess and has a partial shutdown going on over budget issues.