The U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $40,000 in January 1982 —$127,580 in 2023 dollars — for studying food preferences and social identity.
For this wasteful spending, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the Department of Agriculture a Golden Fleece Award. He gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.
The study tried to demonstrate that “you are what you eat,” claiming that people with certain personalities eat certain kinds of food.
“My answer to this study is ‘so what?’” Proxmire said then. “Who cares what it means when you eat carrots instead of caviar? Here’s a $40,000 study calculated to make the American taxpayer eat his heart out.”
Participants were asked their preferences about five categories of food: synthetic, vegetarian, fast food, health and gourmet food. The results that tax dollars paid for included that vegetarians like intellectual tasks, crafts and want a good education. Gourmet food lovers are supposedly interested in “life in the fast lane” – they want spouses but few children and enjoy playing tennis.
The study found that fast-food eaters are antidrug, patriotic, conservative and do hard work on the job, while health food nuts are laid back.
“To gain these marvelous bits of wisdom, people were asked to do such things as take the food preferences of a hypothetical person and make inferences about the person’s personality and lifestyle,” Proxmire said. “Or the participants’ own personalities were used to predict the kind of food they would like.”
The Department of Agriculture had been criticized in the past, Proxmire noted, for funding other esoteric studies with little or no practical value.
“In fact, as a result of studies like this, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has now put language in bills that prohibited the grants office from using money to pay for social science and psychological studies,” Proxmire said.
While $40,000 may not be much in the federal budget, it could buy a lot of food for a family, no matter what personalities they have.
The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.
This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.
Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.
The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.
Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.
Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.
Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.
Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.
In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.
Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).
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