Unemployment is rampant, the cost of living is skyrocketing and quite a number of people can't pay their mortgages. But hey, at least the federal government has $500,000 to spend running shrimp on a treadmill.
Seriously folks, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. Now if you're scratching your head and trying to figure out why anyone would want to take shrimp for a workout at the gym, you are far, far from alone.
That's right, because according to ABC News, it's "not entirely clear" what the research conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) hoped to establish by evaluating a sick shrimp’s metabolism in such a fashion.
But wait, it gets even better.
The NSF also whipped out $1.5 million to design and build a laundry-folding robot. Sounds cool, right? Not really, because it apparently takes the mechanical marvel a friggin' 25 minutes to fold a single towel.
Yes, you read that correctly: 25 minutes to fold a single towel. Somehow I don't think you'll find the uber-slow robot working your local hotel anytime soon.
And let's not even discuss why the government felt compelled to throw down a whopping $300,000 in hard-earned taxpayer cash to study if playing FarmVille helps build personal relationships.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm not really sure the social implications of Farmville is such a burning issue - certainly not at a $300,000 price tag.
But hey, the NSF says it isn't wasting public funds, although the foundation has yet to adequately explain why it funded, yes, this is for real - Jell-O wrestling at the South Pole.
"While no agency is without flaws, NSF has been diligent about addressing concerns from members of Congress about workforce and grant management issues, and NSF's excellent record of tracking down waste and prosecuting wrongdoing is apparent from Sen. Coburn's report," said NSF spokesperson Dana Topousis.
"We believe that no other funding agency in the world comes close to NSF for giving taxpayers the best return on their investment."
Unsurprisingly, Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, finds the NSF's explanation somewhat lacking in substance.
"What it [really] says to me is, they have too much money if they're going to spend money on things like that. We have 12 different agencies doing pure research, and we're duplicating and we're not sharing the information across and it's siloed," said Coburn, who authored a recent report about the NSF's shamefully wasteful ways.
"[And] there is little, if any, obvious scientific benefit to some NSF projects, such as a YouTube rap video, a review of event ticket prices on stubhub.com, a 'robot hoedown and rodeo,' or a virtual re-creation of the 1964/65 New York World's Fair."