Cures for chronic diseases delayed, snowmobile race funded

Grants for snowmobile races but not chronic disease? Photo credit
As President Barack Obama warns the American public that sequester cuts would mean end to critical research in health-related areas, research grants for the ridiculous, the whimsical and the flighty continue.

“Most Americans with chronic diseases don’t have a day to lose, but under sequestration progress towards cures would be delayed and several thousand researchers could lose their jobs,” the White House warned March 2. “Up to 12,000 scientists and students would also be impacted.”

If we are to take the president at his word, National Science Foundation research grants for critical cancer, diabetes and other health-related problems will come to a screeching halt this month.

At the same time, however,’s Barnini Chakraborty reported:

The federal government is ready to pay people $45,900 to attend an annual snowmobile competition in Michigan for the next two years.

They’re also ready to shell out $516,000 for scientists to develop an ecoATM that will give out cash in exchange for old cell phones and other electronics. And why not drop another $349,862 for a study that looks at the effects of meditation and self-reflection for math, science and engineering majors?

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has long been a one-man watchdog of government waste, fraud and abuse, and he is not amused. In a March 12 letter to the National Science Foundation director, he suggested cutting the funding for 12 programs he found frivolous.

“These may be interesting questions to ponder or explore, but just because each is currently being supported by NSF should not mean guaranteed future funding if new applications with greater merit or potential are submitted,” Coburn wrote.

Although Coburn’s letter only listed 12 programs that should go, including the infamous “shrimp on a treadmill” and “robo-squirrel,” he said the number of wasteful taxpayer-funded research projects could be reduced by as many as 1,000.

Read more at Fox News and watch the “robo-squirrel” video.


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