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2013 Wastebook Includes Man of Steel, Superheroes, Toy Museums & Video Games

Each year, Senator Coburn (R-OK) releases his Wastebook which highlights what he thinks is some of the most wasteful spending by our government. In total, the 2013 edition has 100 examples of “wasteful and low-priority spending” (his opinion of what that is) which totals more than $28 billion. This year, a bunch of “geeky” things wound up on the list. He’s all over the place this year including a PBS documentary on superheroes, the military’s co-branding with the movie Man of Steel, two toy museums, and a video game to help children learn. Last year, the Senator decided to take jabs at the 501st Legion’s charitable actions.

Check out below for what irritated the Senator and made the list this year.

  • It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s Superman! – (National Guard) $10 million – Coming in at number two on the list, the Senator had issues with the National Guard’s co-branding of advertisements with this year’s movie Man of Steel. The “Soldier of Steel” campaign was to “increase awareness and consideration of service opportunities in the National Guard.” The Senator seems to have an issue that the money could have been better spent supporting the actual National Guard troops and that the film and theaters, which eventually did quite well, could have been more charitable as far as costs. I guess the Republican only likes handouts when the government isn’t doing them?
  • Comic Book Superheroes Documentary – (NEH) $125,000 – At number 19 on the list, the Senator didn’t enjoy the PBS documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle as much as the rest of us. While the documentary boasted it was a first of its kind, the Senator shows some examples that’s just not the case. All together the documentary and project has received $825,000 and though funded by us, we still need to buy the DVD. The Senator does leave out how much the documentary might have brought in for revenue, offsetting the cost. Small details matter.
  • Playing Games with Taxpayer Money – (IMLS) $225,000 – The National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY has made the list. The Senator doesn’t seem to like the museum which provides a hands on experience for kids. The money is geared towards a play zone that encourages just that and looks at the history of it. With more kids faces buried in front of electronic devices, is this a bad thing? This one ranks at number 50 on the list.
  • The Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys – (CO) $40,810 – At number 55, I can’t disagree about those creepy dolls shown in his report. This money is going towards a staffer to log the contents of the museum. That’s a small amount of money for a lot of work. I guess the Senator just doesn’t like people getting paid, and wants everyone to volunteer or rely on charity.
  • Need Brains! Fighting Zombies with Pluses and Minuses – (NC) $150,000 – Clocking in at 63 on the list, the Senator hates education as well. The money is meant to go to develop a “web-based, action-adventure, narrative-based, role-playing game where the player defends against zombies in an effort to save the human race.” And while doing that, they learn. The Senator seems to be less bothered by his math of this hiring 5 teachers in South Carolina. That’s really poor pay for hard work. He does have a point that many educational games like this already exists. Though, for schools to use them, they’d cost how much?
  • Four Score and Seven Clicks From Now: historical multi-player computer games – (NEH) $300,000 – At 88 on the list, I think the Senator just hates education through video games. He could use some of that education, because there’s a spelling error in this entry.
  • NSF Spending Millions on Ineffective Educational Games – (NSF) $4.4 million – See he hates education through video games! Taking up the 91st spot, this attempt at an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) by the National Science Foundation is to “attract teenage girls and underrepresented groups to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers, as well as educate these students in deep-time sciences, astrobiology, astrophysics, interplanetary space travel, and Earth sciences.” His reasoning goes into the fact some things says these don’t work. Can’t find all of that out if you don’t try! Maybe that fact that this is geared towards women and minorities is the real issue?

You can head to the full report and find out the other things the Senator thinks are a waste, and in fairness many of them are. But, many of the above have more to them the Senator ignores and conveniently leaves out, like if they generate revenue. But, that’d mean looking at all the facts, and we can’t ask our politicians to do that…. can we?

Well, no matter your political persuasion we can all agree there’s some irony in the cover riffing from Action Comics #1 right? How much did that cost to draw and color Senator?




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