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Cash for the Crafty


The absurd ways your tax dollars are being put to work.

The minutes from last month's FOMC meeting at the Federal Reserve include the following statement: "Some participants remained concerned about the economy's ability to generate a self-sustaining recovery without government support." (See also The FOMC's Great Debate.)

Wait a second -- what about all the talk of "green shoots" and what seems like every living financial TV pundit hollering about how things are looking up all over?

It appears that the government's $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act may not have done the trick and, less than a year later, Congress is ready to pull the trigger on a second round of stimulus dollars to the tune of an additional $174 billion, adding to the current $12 trillion deficit. Complicating matters is the $55 billion that Earl Devaney, head of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency board, estimates will be lost to waste, fraud and abuse.

It seems that if you play your cards right, just about anybody can get cash from Uncle Sam for something these days. Government rebates for golf carts are so generous you can get the whole cart for free if you're crafty enough. Looking for a new refrigerator? Let your tax dollars (and mine too) help fund the purchase of energy-efficient appliance.

Click through the slideshow to see some above-board stimulus programs that have raised an eyebrow or two.

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