Trips and Snails and Puppet Tales

Written by Marilyn Assenheim on March 29, 2013

800px-Punch_and_Judy_PhiladelphiaThe nation’s economy has been cited, by the Associated Press this week, as having grown by .4% during the last quarter of 2012. The AP is waxing ecstatic that this Lilliputian percent of a percent is greater than the expected .1% that had been predicted. That’s how low we’ve sunk to date: As if the enormous increase was not due to the fact that the last quarter of 2012 includes Christmas spending. As if such information is supposed to generate applause from a population resorting, in ever-increasing numbers, to food stamps and disability participation in lieu of jobs. Well, huzzah. In the meantime, presidential vacations and other insane government spending continue apace.

The federal government, under the Lyin’ King’s control, persists in cutting where they think it will hurt us the most. Cuts that are utterly unnecessary; remember, the sequester is merely a reduction to the increase of budgets, not the cutting of budgets from past levels. If it could be afforded last year, then why is any government being cut this year, after an increase?

The White House has, infamously, halted tours of the president’s residence. The cost of these tours, arranged for many months in advance through one’s Congressman, prices out at $936,000 per year. But would it surprise you to learn that the United States government has spent more than $1,180,000 since 2009 on … puppet-related projects? Yup, puppets. Breitbart writes that the government has been hot to corner the all- important puppet research market. Educational puppet shows for kids, puppet research, an almost $200,000 grant to the University of Central Florida for the “Efficient Control and Transmission of Digital Puppetry”, over $350,000 to Northwestern University for “puppet choreography and automated marionettes” and so on.

But what about 2013? The buck still hasn’t stopped anywhere. In February 2013, the National Endowment of the Arts awarded $25,000 toward a project titled “In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask,” a project based in Minneapolis that is supposed to “support the development of a new work by puppetry artists in the Sampo Box Program.” Whatever that may be.

Government funds do not extend to critical puppet research alone. The National Science Foundation has made a convincing case that the sex life of snails is of paramount importance. The University of Iowa was awarded $880,000 to study whether or not the New Zealand snail reproduces sexually or asexually. The grant, originally awarded in 2011, runs through 2015. So far, over $500,000 has been spent. No one has yet dared to suggest that the $380,000 remaining in the grant might be better spent elsewhere. Like, for instance, funding White House tours for almost 5 ½ months. Ironically, the purpose of the snail research is to prove that the cost of sexual reproduction is “costlier” than that of asexual reproduction. You’re telling me.

The sequester rollbacks are one of our beloved leader’s sillier and less successful tactics to all but the faithful. Yet they continue. The sequester has had no effect, whatever, in reining in needless government expenditures and waste. The eradication of White House tours was a ridiculous ploy. When the Lyin’ King is actually in residence, however, it definitely cuts down on any potential inconvenience to his ego; no hoi polloi littering up his “crib.”

Image: Flickr; author: Anah; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Marilyn Assenheim
Marilyn Assenheim was born and raised in New York City. She spent a career in healthcare management although she probably should have been a casting director. Or a cowboy. A serious devotee of history and politics, Marilyn currently lives in the NYC metropolitan area.