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A Half-Million-Dollar, Taxpayer-Funded Thermometer?

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Unread 02.06.12, 05:55 PM
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A Half-Million-Dollar, Taxpayer-Funded Thermometer?

On 02.06.12 02:15 PM posted by Mike Brownfield

Wonder if it’s too hot to go outside at your workplace? Don’t bother checking the thermometer or stepping outside—the federal government has the answer for you. And it’s only costing taxpayers $643,997.60.

Josh Peterson of the Daily Caller reports that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is due to release a smartphone app that uses temperature and humidity data to warn workers if it is too hot outside.
According to OSHA’s website, the “Heat Safety Tool”—available for Android, Blackberry and iPhone—“allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their work site and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers.” The app also outlines protective measures that workers can take to mitigate the risks of overexposure to heat.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request by the free-market oriented Americans for Limited Government revealed that the Labor Department contracts for the development of the “Heat Safety Tool” and related Web 2.0 technologies cost the taxpayer $643,997.60. The contracts were awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus package.

This app would be laughable if wasteful spending on projects such as this were not so serious. Under President Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus, taxpayer dollars have been sent down a rabbit hole. About $10 million was to be spent renovating a century-old train station that hasn’t been used in 30 years; a non-existent Oklahoma lake was to receive $1 million to construct a new guardrail; $800,000 was allocated for a Johnstown, Pennsylvania, airport to renovate its backup runway (even though the airport is rarely used); and the town of Union, New York, was encouraged to spend money it did not request for a homeless problem it does not have. (Senator Tom Coburn [R–OK] details over 100 examples of wasteful stimulus projects here.) Now, in this latest example, Americans’ hard-earned money is being spent on a high-tech way to tell the weather. (And it’s not doing it very well, either—iTunes users who ranked the app give it just 1.5 out of 5 stars.)

The absurdity of the spending aside, the “stimulus” hasn’t even created the jobs that were promised. President Obama pledged that his stimulus would save or create 3.5 million jobs and that, if passed, unemployment would never rise above 8 percent. But here we are, nearly three years later, with 8.3 percent unemployment, a recovery that is far below the White House’s predictions, and an ever-growing $15 trillion debt. Instead of measuring the temperature going up, Washington should focus on making the spending go down, living within its means, and being responsible stewards of the people’s money.

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