Mike Klein Online

Summertime Blues: Will Grandpa Blast His Way Through Wii World?

This article was published by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.

One person’s stimulus is another person’s wasted tax dollars.  It depends on your point of view.  There is no mistaking what Republican Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn think in their new report, “Summertime Blues : 100 Stimulus Projects That Give Taxpayers The Blues.”

The McCain – Coburn study released this week in Washington is a direct rebuttal to the White House strategy “Recovery Summer.”  Who or what recovered depends on anyone’s point of view and everyone is entitled to have one.  Certainly the Georgia economy has not recovered or the state would be doing better than 10% unemployment, higher than the national average.

But in Georgia, some folks have recovered better than others, thanks to stimulus dollars.

“Summertime Blues” cited four Georgia projects.  Three have real whopper potential.

More than $762,000 will enable Georgia Tech to study improvised music with “world-renowned musicians” to “hopefully also create satisfying works of art.”  A music professor will study the “systemic evaluation of formal models in realistic performance contexts, and use brain imaging of improvising musicians to gain insight into highly creative mental activity.”

“Summertime Blues” also quotes the professor, “We are putting money into the local economy that is supporting local jobs,” and, “We are creating the intellectual capital to support future growth.”  Remember, we paid more than three-quarter million dollars for this information.

More than $677,000 was awarded to Georgia State researchers to study how primates respond when they think things are going badly.   A project description states, “Seven species of primates will be asked to make decisions about whether or not to accept rewards in a series of studies in which their outcomes vary relative to their social partners.”

“Summertime Blues” noted that the grant request said, “Chimpanzees respond with temper tantrums if they do not get what they desire,” and “Capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees both respond negatively to distributional inequity.”  Eight-year-old Homo sapiens display similar tendencies but you wouldn’t need to spend $677,000 to figure that out, would you?

More than $427,000 was awarded to Georgia Tech to study how seniors react to Nintendo Wii Boom Blox games.   No more checkers for Grandpa!  The goal is to determine whether playing aggressive video games will help old timers improve their mental health.  The Nintendo home page says players can “Throw, Grab and Blast Your Way Through the Ultimate Wii Game.”

The grant request stated, “Results will aid designers who currently have little knowledge of the interface and game-play needs of older players,” and, “One of our main goals is to produce guidelines for producing games for older adults.”  Back in the day Grandpa just took the gun outside to fire off a few shots near the barn.  That seemed to work well.

Finally, McCain and Coburn noted the Georgia Forestry Commission received $900,000 to provide “more shade” by planting urban trees, about which the senators have their doubts.  We find somewhat more value in these trees, especially the ones that don’t create pollution.

Remember, one person’s stimulus is another person’s wasted tax dollars.

And it all depends on your point of view.

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August 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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