By Emily Wiest

Elm Staff Writer

Our fears have been confirmed — the government is burning through our tax dollars seemingly without a care in the world. Earlier this month officials confirmed that since 2016, the Air Force has spent $326,785 on specialty coffee cups for its service members.

These cups cost about $1,280 apiece. Why the high price? The cup has its own heater and a cord that plugs into the outlets on cargo planes, meaning drinks can be reheated in flight.

The downside (besides the absurd price)? They’re pretty fragile, and service members keep dropping them. Much of that $326,785 went toward replacing cups that service members dropped and subsequently broke — apparently, the handle tends to snap in half when the cup is dropped. The company that produces these cups does not make replacement parts, so an entirely new cup must be purchased to replace the broken one. To put that in perspective, 25 replacement cups have been purchased this year alone, adding up to $32,000.

Understandably, there were some questions about the Air Force’s budgeting choices. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been particularly loud about his opinion on the matter. In discussion with Heather Wilson, the secretary of the Air Force, Grassley questioned whether cheaper options had been, or would be, explored.

Well, he didn’t exactly get an answer to that question, but not to worry — Wilson responded by sharing that the Air Force plans to utilize 3D printers to remake and replace broken pieces, so that a new cup will not have to be ordered every time the handle breaks. The handle, which is the piece that most often breaks, would only cost 50 cents.

Hilarity aside, it is utterly absurd that this kind of spending is allowed in our Department of Defense. If we’re spending over $326,000 on coffee cups, what else are we blowing our resources on? These are tax dollars being spent wastefully and irresponsibly — imagine the things that money could have been used for that would have an actual influence on the functioning of our armed forces.

How about instead of a $1,280 cup with its own heater, we invest in some well-made thermoses? According to reviews on Amazon, a Yeti thermos, which sells for about $30, will keep your drinks hot for up to twelve hours. Do service members really want coffee that’s more than twelve hours old anyway? Maybe they can invest in a good electric kettle instead — or maybe we can just get someone to better manage the Air Force’s spending.

The Elm

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