Listeners to local radio stations during the off-peak hours here in Midland, Texas, get to hear a lot of those ads paid for with taxpayer money. And while they probably shouldn't be used to judge all government spending, they do provide a glimpse into the thinking behind the process.
For example, there's an advertisement from the National Science Foundation explaining the results of a study. Researchers have determined that caffeine can improve a person's memory for as long as 24 hours.
Was this a good use of taxpayer money? The findings are interesting, but they won't cure cancer. And the whole project sounds as if it might have been more appropriate for a coffee trade group to fund than for taxpayers. Worse, maybe it was the trade group lobbyists who finagled the NSF grant.
So as a person lies in bed wishing for sleep, he/she can thank the caffeine consumed that day for being able to dredge up all those memories.
On a related note, Fox News reports that the NSF has funded "a climate change-themed theatrical production" to the tune of $700,000. The NSF needs to drink a few cups of coffee so maybe they'll remember that they're supposed to be funding scientific research.