Money for Nuthin’

It has been about twenty five years since I read a marvelous report about how science, industry, and the government come together to safeguard our society. I am talking about government research grants.

I do not mean to bash ALL the grants (or their recipients) but one grant in particular seemed to me to be the ultimate in useless tax dollar spending: Research to determine what percentage of peanut butter had to be real peanuts in order to be called “peanut butter”. Now here was some real vital high level research whose results would benefit both industry and the consumer (or at least so claimed the grant proposal). And someone over at Commerce (or the FDA) thought it vital enough to grant them half a million dollars ($500,000.00 – and this is 25 years ago!) to determine this necessary statistic.

I never heard the results of the project – perhaps publication of their results was not part of the grant package – but it matters very little. Apparently somebody somewhere in some bureau of our government used the data for something… at least I hope so, for the half million spent.

Personally, I think a proper solution would have been to make the manufacturer print in LARGE figures on the label saying exactly what percentage of the product was peanuts. Then the consumers could decide. Maybe some people prefer a less-peanutty butter than others. This solution would have been better for the consumer AND the industry, as well as saved the grant money for something really important… like the migratory habits of marsupials in the Ouachita Mountains.

I think I would like to come up with an idea for a grant proposal to do as much good for our society, and even more good for me. If anyone has an idea for me to investigate, I would like to become a grant slut and dig deep into that public trough.

Money for nuthin’ at all.


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