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Your Tax Dollars at Work

April 16, 2018

Sure, it stings to write a big check to the IRS every April, but that money goes to pay for schools, roads, bridges…and this stuff, too.

An exhaustive history of smoking in Russia

In 2015, the U.S. National Institutes of Health paid more than $48,000 to an individual to research and write an exhaustive history of smoking. Not smoking in general, or smoking in the United States, however, but specifically tobacco smoking in Russia over the past 130 years.

The fiddlers of Madison County

We’ve heard of the bridges of Madison County, but not about its fiddlers. A government grant could change that. The National Park Service gave $5,000 to Mars Hill University to produce a film about fiddling in Madison County, North Carolina.

Glow-in-the-dark marijuana billboard

Colorado was one of the first states in the country to legalize marijuana for recreational use. To that end, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration spent $35,000 to build a glow-in-the-dark, marijuana cigarette-shaped billboard to discourage stoned people from driving under the influence.

Solar for breweries

Solar power could ultimately save money in the long run, so it’s probably an investment that the Department of Agricultural gave some beer breweries in Michigan and Wyoming $35,000 so they could install solar panels.

Steroids for hamsters

Boston’s Northeastern University recently received $3.4 million in funding to examine aggression and anxiety patterns in hamsters. Scientists researched this by giving hamsters steroids and then seeing if they’d fight each other.

Who plays with Barbies?

The National Institutes of Health allocated $300,000 for research to determine if boys or girls played with Barbie dolls more. (As it turns out, girls do.)

The Tonight Show

In 1972, NBC moved The Tonight Show from New York City to California, where it taped for more than 40 years. When Jimmy Fallon took over as host from Jay Leno in 2014, the show moved back to New York. Why? It may have had something to do with a clause in the state budget that gave huge tax breaks to any “talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state prior to its first relocated season in New York” that was “filmed before a studio audience.”

Stressful politics

In 2015, the publicly-funded National Science Foundation used $150,000 on a study to determine why politics are stressful.

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