The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) — motto: Let’s pay farmers for what they used to do for free, is the 2015 Spendy Award defending champion and at the rate it’s going this year, the agency could be a repeat winner.
For those who missed last December’s ceremony, the Spendy is awarded to the federal agency with the most extensive record of incompetence and contempt for the taxpayer over the past year. Bonus points are awarded to federal agencies performing a function completely absent from the Constitution, and better left to the private sector.
Spendy winners are characterized by cabinet secretaries who gamely attend congressional hearings — where hours are spent detailing the mismanagement, waste, theft, and general uselessness found in their kingdom; then arrogantly assure Congress that if it would just pour more money down their rathole of an agency, all would be well.
For details on how the USDA beat out the Veterans Administration last year, click here
Pete Kasperowicz, of the Washington Examiner, found the latest exercise in pointlessness from USDA. This time it’s advice on how to compose a grocery list.
When it comes to written material, this is an improvement over the USDA food pyramid that during 40 years of misinformation, bloated a nation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.
The federal government has an innate ability to make even distributing inanities very expensive. The advice to the budding pantry penman includes: “List your weekly meals.” “Write down meals you want to make.” “Look in your freezer, cabinets and refrigerator.”
Under the “Eating” tab, the website advises to chew eat bite 40 times and floss between meals.
All this is very valuable advice. It ranks right up there with “have a specific destination in mind before you start your car. That way you won’t wander aimlessly over the landscape, potentially attracting intervention from suicide–prevention authorities.”
Even USDA banalities that employ the same tone one would use in addressing the audience at a sheltered workshop must be written by someone.
The process starts with a bright idea that will look good on his resume when the supervisor decides to move into an executive director slot in the non–profit world.
A copywriter is assigned or a contractor hired. After days and weeks of research into grocery list “best practices” an initial draft is produced.
The government can’t just post grocery list advice willy–nilly, so a management team starts the approval process and offers suggestions. Gaining momentum, the project moves to web design, which means the addition of a designer.
Any good resume-building project for a federal bureaucrat needs a logo, so grocery list central — better known as ChooseMyPlate.gov — merits an art director.
In keeping with the accuracy and attention to detail found in USDA anti–fat recommendations, the brightly-colored logo has six words and two grammatical errors.
Neither "fruits" or "grains" needs an ‘s’ at the end to indicate variety. The word “fruit” includes everything from plums to pomegranates, just as “grain” encompasses the entire grainy world from barley to wheat. It’s the same reason we don't drink "waters" or say "look at all the peoples" when commenting on a crowd containing more than one race.
Once the English-language version is complete, let the translation begin! Linguists can start making grocery list science accessible to cultures that only recently discovered writing, to say nothing of paper.
Before you know it, information that savvy shoppers can get on the Internet for free has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Searching on “make a grocery list” returns about 11,700,000 results in less than a second. But adding insult to injury, listed at the top, above free private sector results, is our old friend "ChooseMyPlate.gov."
That didn’t happen by accident. It happened because the USDA used more of your tax dollars to pay for placement at the top of search engine results. Since most people will click on the first link — paid for or not — this makes ChooseMyPlate.gov look popular, so USDA functionaries can report to Congress on how vital it is America have grocery list advice from the government.
Assuming anyone believes the fattest people on the planet have any difficulty buying groceries.
The entire cabinet agency appears to be composed of people too young and deluded to realize how puerile their efforts are and older bureaucrats who are too cynical to care. Meanwhile the spending continues.
In a previous moment of despair I seriously contemplated urging incoming President Trump to consider appointing Hotels.com’s Captain Obvious as the new USDA secretary. Secretary Obvious would exemplify the contribution of the USDA to modern American life.
But then I concluded he might 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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