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Federal Bureaucracy Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

In order to scientifically rebut industry claims that the chemicals injected into foods were safe, the Department of Agriculture created a "poison squad" in 1902. Volunteers from the department were fed foods laced with widely used chemicals: borax, salicylic acid, sulfuric acid, sodium benzoate, and formaldehyde. The experiments were stopped in 1907 when squad members became too ill to tolerate further study. By then, the public and Congress had been alerted to the dangers of commonly used food additives. 18

Keeping track of all the money that flows through the federal bureaucracy is apparently an impossible task. A 2003 audit of all government spending could not find $24.5 billion. If we spread the blame around equally, that means that each federal employee lost track of about $9000.19

An investigation at the Department of Agriculture revealed that about fifteen percent of the department's employees abused the credit cards issued for official use—unless, of course, their official duties required that they spend money on tattoos, lingerie, bartender school tuition, car payments, and Ozzy Osbourne concerts.20

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