Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has put together the 2010 Wastebook, a compendium of government funded projects that he considers wasteful and an inappropriate use of tax payer dollars. Coming in at No. 4, is the University of Santa Cruz's Grateful Dead Archive, which the federal government chipped in $615,000 to create and maintain.
Coburn explains in the Wastebook:
Grateful Dead chose a public institution to archive the band's memorabilia "because the whole idea of it being public and free was important to them," yet taxpayers are paying $615,000 to make the band's archives "free" and "public." The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded the University of California at Santa Cruz the federal funds to digitize Grateful Dead photographs, tickets, backstage passes, flyers, shirts, and other memorabilia. IMLS notes "this is one of the first efforts to preserve and share cultural and historical artifacts of the baby boom generation, a group that includes 76 million Americans."
Rolling Stone magazine listed the Grateful Dead in the top 100 Greatest Artists of All Time,and estimates place the net worth of two prominent band members, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh, at roughly $40 and $35 million, respectively.
In times of economic turmoil, this project isn't such a bad idea. The Wastebook is actually quite balanced when describing most items - frequently giving both sides of the story. And there are definitely some projects in there that will make you scratch your head - like a World of Warcraft study that cost $2.9 million. Coburn also calls for some sensible changes to government energy use like, ironically, the Department of Energy finding ways to lower its $190 million a year electric bill or encouraging Department of Defense employees to avoid unnecessary document printing that could save tax payers about $490 million.