There’s a whole lot of drinking going on in the name of government science, and some watchdogs think it’s the American taxpayer who is getting hammered.
Right now the National Institutes of Health is spending $3.2 million to get monkeys to drink alcohol excessively to determine what effect it has long term on their body tissue.
NIH also has handed out $69,459 to the University of Missouri to study whether text messaging college students before they attend pre-football game tailgates will encourage them to drink less and “reduce harmful effects related to alcohol consumption.”
And the government’s premier research arm has doled out money in recent years for research on binge-drinking mice, inebriated gamblers and pilots seeking the sensation of flying drunk — on a simulator of course.
NIH defends such expenditures on the grounds that these research projects help those they fund improve their “potential to develop into a productive, independent research scientist.”
In an email to The Washington Times, the NIH pointed out that the goal of the Missouri text message project wasn’t just to save the lives of coeds but also to empower “promising predoctoral students to obtain individualized, mentored research training from outstanding faculty sponsors while conducting dissertation research in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers.”
In other words, it’s the sort of stuff that gets scientists excited.
But with 50,000 grants totaling $24 billion each year at taxpayer expense, NIH has some spending watchdogs and lawmakers in Congress wondering whether it has become a drunken spender that has wandered too far astray from its core mission.
It appears the government is so awash in money to spend, they are having trouble finding anything useful to spend it on. For example they could get much better data on the effect of alcohol on humans by studying the bodies of alcoholics after death, but that has already been done.