Festivus 2016: Rand Paul Is Airing His Grievances Over Government Waste

Festivus 2016 is upon us, and Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul is celebrating the holiday by airing his grievances over nearly $2 billion in what he describes as wasteful government spending.

Festivus is a holiday created by the character Frank Costanza, George’s father, on the TV show Seinfeld, as an alternative to Christmas. One of the traditions of Festivus is known as the “airing of grievances,” during which people let each other know the various problems they have with each other. Rand Paul honors this tradition each year by calling out his fellow members of Congress and the rest of the federal government for spending too much money on things he deems unimportant.

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Rand Paul’s approach to Festivus is simple: He has issued an “Airing of Grievances 2016” waste report on his Senate.gov website detailing some questionable instances of federal spending.

“Happy Festivus! Once again, the federal government found new and inventive ways to waste hardworking Americans’ tax dollars. In its second year, The Waste Report has highlighted many examples for a total of nearly two billion dollars’ worth of wasteful spending, misplaced priorities, and bad management,” Paul says at the beginning of the report.

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Jerry Still played the character of Frank Costanza on "Seinfeld." The character famously founded Festivus, a holiday "for the rest of us." [Image by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]

Rand Paul’s report goes on to list 37 programs and expenditures totaling $1,404,471,000 in federal spending. It’s a matter of opinion whether any or all of these are necessary, but the libertarian-minded Paul is clearly not enthused about the items, which he calculates as an amount equal to the total federal tax revenue taken from 177,332 Americans based on the figure of $7,920 he lists as the amount the average American pays to the federal government each year.

Rand Paul’s Festivus 2016 report is a whopping 48 pages long. Listed below are a few of the items found in the report.

  • $150,000 for a park service study on people’s experiences with sea monsters, invisible birds, and other supernatural activity.
  • $300,000 for televisions purchased by the VA before they were needed which turned out to be the wrong kind.
  • $810,000 for a defense department study on email response times and habits.
  • $500,000 for a National Science Foundation study on whether smiling during a selfie makes people happier.
  • $100,000 for a defense department study on the fox population on an island where the fox is not an indigenous species.
  • $500,000 for a documentary about a metal cylinder funded by the commerce department.
  • $2.5 million spent by the National Science Foundation studying what makes the perfect first date.
  • $6 million for renovations to a defense department cafeteria which was closed months later.
  • $400 million spent by the IRS to help people file overly complicated tax returns.
  • $21 million for a center for Asian understanding in Hawaii that Barack Obama doesn’t even support.
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Rand Paul is the son of former congressman Ron Paul of Texas. [Image by Joshua Lott/Getty Images]

Rand Paul mentions in the report that these instances of government spending could have been put to arguably more reasonable uses. These include resurfacing over a thousand miles of interstate highways, funding of the national weather service for 14 months, helping 46,000 small businesses with start-up costs, and funding for two years construction on a new VA hospital.

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Rand Paul’s grievances don’t end with the federal spending issues cited in his report. He apparently is no fan of Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, and specifically the number of billionaires it includes.

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Many Americans are using the opportunity provided by Festivus 2016 to air their political grievances. It’s been a long year and many are dissatisfied with the state of the nation but that’s the point of airing one’s grievances in the first place. It’s supposed to be a cathartic release. Whether Rand Paul will decide to also engage in a feat of strength, another Festivus tradition, remains to be seen.

[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]