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Let's Cut Some Spending: $465,339 to study gambling pigeons

Remember the absolutely critical Omnibus spending bill Congress muscled through at the end of last year? It was 4,000 pages that no one read and cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion.

In our Let's Cut Some Spending series, ForAmerica will chronicle parts of the 2021 and 2022 spending bills from a variety of sources that you probably don't know about - programs, grants and spending of all kinds that should have never happened in the first place and many that are still happening.

Today’s offering: $465,339 to study gambling pigeons!

Real Clear Policy reports:

The rise of mobile sports betting has sparked a conversation about the effects of gambling on an increasingly-large population. Gambling can be a serious problem, and there are plenty of legitimate ways to spend money to help those struggling with addiction, like investing in mental health treatment and social services. There is even value in studying the causes of addiction – but pigeons?
...the National Institute of Health (NIH) granted $465,339 to researchers at Reed College in Portland, Ore. to “create a token-based economy where pigeons are taught to gamble with slot machines.” The pigeons were provided tokens, and could then choose whether spend, save, or gamble them.
Researchers claim this study aids in the understanding of behavioral economics. The NIH never felt the need to explain how pigeons’ gambling habits relate to the gambling habits of humans.

The report added:

It is also unclear why this study ended up costing so much.

Gee you think?

Two questions:

  1. WHY are we even studying "gambling" pigeons?

  2. WHO thinks this is a good use of taxpayers dollars?

Real Clear Policy continued:

While we’re not experts, pigeons and tokens probably come relatively cheap. What essential equipment and tools cost nearly half a million dollars?

We have no idea. But ZERO dollars going toward this kind of nonsense sounds like a much better idea.


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