Joni Ernst Highlights Government Waste: Pigs Playing Video Games, Touch-Pads for Dolphins

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Yamil LAGE / AFP, Breitbart News edit
Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Yamil LAGE / AFP, Breitbart News edit

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Tuesday unveiled the latest examples of egregious government spending and waste, which include taxpayer dollars used to train pigs to play video games, provide dolphins with an underwater touch pad with “dolphin friendly apps,” and establish a comedy center in New York.

President Joe Biden is the recipient of Ernst’s monthly Squeal Award, which she uses to highlight some of the most egregious instances of government waste.

“Unexplainable expenditures like these really bug taxpayers, yet they keep popping up because no one really knows where the trillions of dollars being doled out every year by Washington are actually going,” Ernst said, deeming it “entirely intentional.”

“Biden’s budgeting is a lot like Whack-a-Mole. He keeps digging the country deeper in the hole while doing everything he can—including ignoring the law—to hide Washington’s waste so it doesn’t get whacked,” she added.

The first, dubbed “Swinecraft,” focuses on pigs playing video games. The program quite literally involved having pigs engage in a joystick-operated video-game task. It concluded that “all pigs were significantly above chance on first attempts to contact one-walled targets.”

“These results indicate that despite dexterity and visual constraints, pigs have the capacity to acquire a joystick-operated video-game task,” it found, concluding that further studies may help determine if pigs and other domestic species could benefit from “advanced computer-interfaced technology.”

Perdue University notes that the study was funded by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station and received grants provided by “USDA Cooperative Agreement 58-3602-5-143, Genex, the National Pork Producers Council; and the Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council.”

The senator also highlighted a study, funded by the National Science Foundation, which involved providing dolphins with an underwater “touch pad” equipped with “dolphin-friendly apps” to test their intelligence.

According to the Rockefeller University:

The eight-foot underwater touchscreen features specialized dolphin-friendly “apps” and a symbolic keyboard to provide the dolphins with opportunities to interact with the system. To make the system safe for the dolphins, the touchscreen has been installed outside an underwater viewing window, so that no parts of the device are in the pool:  the animals’ touch is detected optically.  While the research is still in its early stages, the team has embarked on studies aimed at understanding dolphin vocal learning and communication, their capacity for symbolic communication, and what patterns of behavior may emerge when the animals have the ability to request items, videos, interactions, and images.

Ernst also noted that taxpayers are assisting the development of the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, costing millions. That includes $1.6 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, $5 million in net benefit from New Markets Tax Credits, and $400,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

And finally, Ernst showcased the waste of four government agencies —  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, General Services Administration, and the Small Business Administration — using millions for the goals of creating bug-based foods and propping up insect farms.

Justin Goodman, Senior Vice President of the taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, said of Ernst’s revelations:

The wasteful white coats are at it again.  It’s bad enough that the NSF squanders our tax dollars to put bears, fish and dead turtles on treadmills and that the USDA funded horrendous kitten cannibalism experiments using cat meat it purchased from filthy wet markets in China.  Now, waste warrior Sen. Joni Ernst has uncovered that the same bureaucrats paid to train dolphins on iPads and teach pigs to play video games.

“Sadly, these boondoggles are just the tip of the iceberg,” he continued, highlighting Ernst’s work with the group to expose and halt “Anthony Fauci’s plan to waste $1.8 million for five cruel and completely unnecessary experiments on puppies to test a new seasonal allergy drug.”

This month’s revelations follow Ernst’s February Squeal Award, which found that the Wuhan lab is actually still eligible to receive tax dollars to conduct experiments on bats.

“…China’s Wuhan lab remains on HHS’s list of foreign institutions APPROVED to conduct experiments on animals, like bats!” her report reads.

Ernst has continued to champion the Cost Openness and Spending Transparency (COST) Act, which would require every project supported with federal funds to include a price tag that is “easily available for taxpayers.”


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