Hot Flashes and Cocaine for Monkeys: Your Stimulus Dollars at Work


Prior to signing his federal "stimulus" bill in early 2009, President Obama warned, "If we do not move swiftly to sign (the act) into law, an economy that is already in crisis will be faced with catastrophe." 

One year later, the debate over the stimulus bill's effectiveness rages on.  A close inspection of stimulus grants and contracts awarded to North Carolina reveals a rather questionable strategy for the disbursement of stimulus funds.  Many projects seem completely unrelated to avoiding an economic "catastrophe," but rather an ad hoc satisfaction of countless dubious wish lists, says the John W. Pope Civitas Institute. 

For example: 

  • Study of monkeys using cocaine: $71,623; Wake Forest University was granted money to "study the effects of self-administering cocaine on the glutamate system on monkeys."
  • North Carolina Dance Theatre: $50,000; this grant is used to retain four professional dancers from the North Carolina Dance Theatre's second company.
  • Reducing hot flashes through yoga: $147,694; funds granted to Wake Forest University to study "preliminary data on the efficacy of integral yoga for reducing menopausal hot flashes."
  • Collecting, researching and reporting on the stimulus act: $115,000; $150,000; $227,940 (total: $492,940); nearly half a million taxpayer dollars will go toward funding more propaganda selling the "benefits" of the stimulus plan.
  • Create interactive dance performance technology: $762,372; this grant to UNC-Charlotte will fund the development of computer technology to digitally record the dance moves of performers so the recorded movements can then be reviewed and manipulated by a computer program. 


  • American Dance Festival, Inc.: $50,000; a graphic designer and archivist will retain their jobs thanks to this grant.
  • Construction of a new town hall in Bladenboro: $200,000; $100,000 (Total: $300,000); why are taxpayers from across the country forced to finance construction of a local government office?
  • North Carolina Folk Life Institute: $25,000; with the help of this grant, the Institute was able to retain its executive director.
  • Preservation of an insect collection at North Carolina State University: $253,123; we were promised that the stimulus was going to "save jobs"; we were never told it would also help preserve dead bugs.
  • Greensboro Symphony Orchestra: $50,000; these funds are used to retain the GSO's director of marketing and education manager.  

Source: Brian Balfour, "Hot Flashes, Dead Bugs, and Cocaine for Monkeys: The 10 Worst Federal Stimulus Projects in North Carolina," John W. Pope Civitas Institute, February 25, 2010. 

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