Writer switches careers, begins applying for federal grant monies

Categorized as 08/16/10 Goshen News column

For months now, debate has raged across the country about the president’s fiscal policies. Every time we turn around, another large institution is being bailed out, and something else is being stimulated.

The success of all this bailing and stimulating is disputable. One side, when asked, declares that it’s been effective, bringing the country back from the brink. The other side, when asked, declares the whole thing to be a colossal failure.

What Americans do agree on is that the numbers involved are beyond comprehension. For rank-and-file citizens whose budgets don’t include many zeroes, it’s mind boggling.

The national “discussion,” shall we say, was reenergized recently by the release of a report by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn. In it, they detailed for the American people just where some of those billions have gone.

There was instant outrage in many parts of the country. Kidney stones flared. Heartburn hit. The national blood pressure spiked, and the White House scrambled to issue a response.

It was upon perusal of the list that revelation struck like a thunderclap. First, I realized that I was on the wrong career track entirely. Second, it was immediately clear that common sense left Washington a long time ago.

Was it really necessary, I wondered, to spend 1.9 million on international ant research? Are the international ants all that different from our national ones?

Don’t they all pretty much just show up at picnics and try to eat your food? Aren’t their main skills swarming and hauling with some biting thrown in? That’s what my informal research has shown. If they’d like to pay me big bucks for what I know, I’ll write that report.

I could have saved them the $193,956 they spent to study voter perceptions of the economic stimulus. I vote. I perceive. I know others who do. I can fill them in. If they’ll just send the check to the house, we can funnel that money into our local economy.

Then there’s the $700,000 that was allocated to study why monkeys respond negatively to inequity. Well, now. They could’ve asked me about this, too.

For years, I’ve affectionately referred to the boys as “the little monkeys” because of the constant stream of tricks and stunts and the occasional zoo-like atmosphere. I’ve observed firsthand how our inhouse primates respond to inequities, both real and perceived. I’ve seen far too many inequitable monkey reactions in my mothering career.

I know whereof I speak. Move over and let an expert write that report.

The $89,298 that was sent to Boynton, Oklahoma, was misdirected as well. A new sidewalk sounds like a good, shovel-ready job. But one that leads to a ditch?

The mailbox at our house is on the edge of a ditch. There’s no sidewalk there. I’m just sayin’.

There were plenty of projects listed that I simply can’t relate to. Half a million to replace the windows in a visitor center that’s closed? Another $200,000 to help Siberians lobby Russian policy makers? Yet another $529,648 to study the effects of local populations on the environment – in the Himalayas? Huh? What?

That’s why I’m changing careers. I’m warming up my grant-writing hand so that I can apply right and left for federal funds to study things that will actually impact my life.

First, I’d like to research why males are singularly incapable of depositing their dirty clothes in a laundry basket. What factors cause them to walk over, around, and past the basket without ever putting the garments in the basket? Is it genetic or environmental? I’d like to know.

Secondly, I’ll need a grant to study the dynamics that take place socially when the phone rings. Why does every family member suddenly present with a question? Why do the offspring pick that very moment to riot? Are ugly faces and slashing motions really effective deterrents? If not, what is and where can I get one?

Thirdly, I’d like to know exactly where the socks go. Don’t tell me this isn’t a relevant study. It’s a mystery that’s confounded my Whirlpool guy for years. I’ll need some funds for that.

For this next project, they should throw money with both fists. That is, how do you get kids to eat their vegetables? Broccoli, in particular, took a beating when the first George Bush announced that as president, he was through with it. Nutritionists everywhere choked on their florets and school kids cheered. Yes, I think a healthy-eating initiative would be in order here.

Lastly, with a large-capacity machine that can launder 16 pairs of jeans, I’d like a feasibility study done on the option of washing 2 medium-sized boys instead. Is this more effective than the standard shower? If so, should one hit “extra rinse” on that cycle? I’d really love to know.

I can hardly sit still. I’m nearly squirming in excitement with that “ants in the pants” feeling. If they’d hurry up and send those funds, I could do the research and find out if they’re international or domestic.

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