Tags: Federal Budget | NIH | National Institutes of Health

Uncle Sam Pays Big to Have Monkeys Drink

By Friday, 19 September 2014 11:27 AM Current | Bio | Archive

After the repeal of Prohibition, 81 years ago, the federal government is still very interested in alcohol consumption, except in this instance people, monkeys and mice are being paid to drink by the National Institutes of Health.

Last year alone NIH handed out $10.6 billion in general clinical research, $7 billion for genetic research, $5.6 billion for cancer, $4.8 billion for infectious diseases and $3.7 billion for women’s health — men are being phased out, so why bother — to name but a few.

With a yearly grant budget of $24 billion it gets hard for NIH staffers to make sure all 50,000 grantees are worthy of funding before the fiscal year runs out. Simply returning unused money to the treasury is unthinkable for federal bureaucrats. Congress might cut their budget next year. And no bureaucrat has ever been given a negative performance evaluation for spending his entire budget, while those too protective of the taxpayer aren’t viewed as team players.

Which is where party monkeys enter the picture.

Drinks are on the house, to the tune of $3.2 million, as NIH persuades monkeys to binge drink so scientists can analyze the long–term effects of grape juice and Everclear on body tissues. When the grantees finally decide the party is over — in more ways than one — they conduct a monkey organ harvest and study the tissue for alcohol damage and any related tendency to join college fraternities.

How this information could be of any possible use to the federal government remains a mystery. Unless they’re finally going to undertake the long–rumored step of hiring sufficient monkeys to retype Shakespeare, and are wondering if drinking will slow the project.

The University of Missouri was looking for a way back into the headlines now that Michael Sam is gone. The NIH was happy to help. Mizzou received money to study if text messaging prior to a football tailgate party would reduce alcohol consumption. Since monkeys are notorious for having problems with the fingerprint recognition feature of an iPhone, college students were selected instead.

So far alcohol consumption does not appear to have been reduced.

To date there has been zero accuracy improvement in any of the “Corn Hole” contests held outside the stadium before home games. Pre–game boozing is not the only gaming–associated revelry the NIH finds fund–worthy. For two years it shipped tax dollars to Yale and Arizona State to find an answer to the pressing question of whether or not gambling while drunk improves a player’s luck or increases his losses. Fortunately a related application, from the Florida State football team, for a follow-up study to see how much alcohol must be poured down a coed to improve chances of getting lucky, was denied.

And it’s not all marijuana brownies up north in Oregon.

There are pockets of traditional dissolution. Oregon Health ans Science University is breeding mice with genes that make them susceptible to binge drinking. You’d think that after humans already developed a college generation remarkably prone to binge–drinking — without any help from taxpayers I might add — there wouldn’t be any demand for rodent drunks.

Party time wasn’t confined to earth–bound pursuits either. A private company in Arizona was paid to develop a flight simulator designed to produce the experience of flying an airplane while drunk, even though it’s already against the law and we know what happens when you mix alcohol and gravity.

NIH likes to pretend it dates back to 1790 when a bureaucrat first used red tape to bandage a paper cut, but the really big spending started under LBJ.

The NIH mission is allegedly to pursue “knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability.” But it’s difficult to see where paying money to research something common sense already tells you is bad advances human knowledge.

Typically booze is also associated with sex and NIH doesn’t disappoint there.

The Washington Free Beacon found a $3 million study to discover why 75 percent of lesbians are obese. I thought it would have been obvious. When you give up on men, what’s the point of Jenny Craig?

Washington Times reporter Drew Johnson, who’s enterprising work with the Taxpayers Protection Alliance helped supply these examples, tracked down an NIH bureaucrat who justified this colossal waste of tax dollars by claiming funding these projects help “promising pre–doctoral students” and enhance their “potential to develop into a productive, independent research scientist.”

So it’s not actually scientific research, it’s just another federal job training program with a cocktail hour. Personally, I’m angry over the lost potential. There have been times when reading the federal budget was enough to drive me to drink, but I had no idea Uncle Sam might pay me to do it.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.


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There have been times when reading the federal budget was enough to drive me to drink, but I had no idea Uncle Sam might pay me to do it.
Federal Budget, NIH, National Institutes of Health
Friday, 19 September 2014 11:27 AM
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