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The Golden Fleece Award and Taxpayers for Common Sense

In March 1975, former Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire was inspired to create theGolden Fleece Award as a way to galvanize public opinion against wasteful spending. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the famous waste-busting award, Senator Proxmire asked Taxpayers for Common Sense to revive the Golden Fleece Award

The senator gave his first Golden Fleece Award to the National Science Foundation for conducting an $84,000 study about why people fall in love. After that, the Golden Fleece Award became a regular news feature and favorite with the public.

“The purpose of the award was to dramatize wasteful and extravagant spending to try to discourage it. Highlighting specific, single wasteful expenditures is more effective than simply complaining in a general way about government waste,” Senator Proxmire told The Wall Street Journal in 1988.

Now, Taxpayers for Common Sense awards “The Golden Fleece” when a project so symbolizes waste of taxpayer dollars – instead of investments worthy of those limited resources – that we feel compelled to give it extra public attention.


Read the article first published in June 2003, when Taxpayers for Common Sense first shed light on the infamous"Bridge to Nowhere."

Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is trying to sell taxpayers a $190-million, one-mile bridge from the town of Ketchikan, Alaska on Revillagigedo Island to Gravina Island, a sparsely populated island on the southern end of the Alaskan Peninsula.

This bridge is purportedly meant to replace the ferryboats which adequately handle passenger traffic between the islands.

Far from being beneficial to the local economy, the bridge would jeopardize Ketchikan’s largest industry: tourism. But, the real motive behind this boondoggle is to pave the way for well-connected timber interests to clear the island of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of old-growth forests.