Internet Web Culture

9 Strange US Government Efforts to Make Use of the Internet

Ryan Dube 15-09-2011

us government websitesI just want to make it very clear that I don’t intend to make fun of the US Government. I am an upstanding, patriotic citizen of the United States. Honest. In fact, here at MUO we have a very wide assortment of articles that promote some of the best online resources that the US Government has to offer, such as my list of data mashups 5 Cool Data Apps & Mashups Provided by the US Government Read More offered at government websites.


With that said, I do have a very personal, intense dislike of bureaucracy and lack of common sense. So even though there are plenty of great websites and online resources offered by the US Government, there are also a whole lot of silly online sites as well. In some cases, the waste of resources is so blatant that US taxpayers should be outraged.

Entertaining Or “Educating” Children?

If you’re read the book 1984 by George Orwell, then you know how creepy it is to see any government in the world attempting to “educate” children. Visions of brainwashing and propaganda come to mind. Those of you that were students during the Cold War will remember the whole “Duck and Cover” campaign.

Well now that there’s terrorism, hurricanes and pandemic diseases to fear, the US Government is busy getting Americans “ready” for any catastrophe with The creepiest part of the U.S. government site is the “Ready Kids” area that educates kids about all of the threats families can face and must be prepared for.

us government websites

Yet another government agency that has no clue when it comes to communicatding with children is the US Treasury. On the Treasury’s website for kids called TreasuryDirect Kids, you’ll find all sorts of explanations and definitions that no child younger than 18 would be likely to even understand.


government websites

It seems inconceivable to me that the folks putting together this page truly think it’s okay to use a phrase like “inflation-protected securities” on a website meant for small children to learn about the Treasury. I mean, seriously?

Then there’s the other extreme over at, where the wonderful, intelligent folks that conduct the US Census figured they’d follow the trend of other government agencies and offer a section of their website for kids as well. There, kids will find a cute little game where they can….well….count things.

government websites


I don’t know – that just struck me as really funny.

Finally, one more website for older kids – college-aged kids to be exact – is a US Government website called While the concept is commendable, the entire premise of the website is just silly.

government websites

Yes, it is a great idea to educate college students about the dangers of drinking too much alcohol, but do you really think college students are going to visit a government website to watch goofy videos, or read a list of “Fact About Alcohol Poisoning?”


Silly & Wasteful Government Websites

Beyond the sites for kids, there are also lots of US Government websites intended for adults that are just as pointless and silly. One example, from the US Geological Survey is actually kind of scary. The USGS decided to provide a webpage where people could submit ideas about how to solve the Earth’s problem of over-population.

federal government websites

I’m actually afraid to learn what sort of “creative” suggestions people submitted to the USGS using the forms on this website.

Now, here’s a quick pop quiz. Do you know who prints US currency? The US Federal Reserve? The US Mint? No and no. It’s actually an obscure agency called the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.


federal government websites

This website treats the production of US currency as though it’s some sort of business – complete with monthly production reports, and even an online store where you can buy limited edition currency. Seriously.

Then there’s probably the funniest government website of all, the Office of Government Ethics. It is the Office that comes up with the ethical rules and guidelines that politicians in the Executive Branch of government must follow.

federal government websites

Why is it such a funny site? Simple – because it’s one website that you can be sure most US politicians never visit.

Here’s pop-quiz #2: Do you remember Ronald Reagan’s famous “Star Wars” missile defense initiative? It was the talk of the day in the 1980s, and then as the years passed, you started to hear less and less about it. Well – just so you know – the entire initiative is alive and well in the Missile Defense Agency.

9 Strange US Government Efforts to Make Use of the Internet govsites10

The Cold War may be over, but these folks at the DoD are working diligently on next generation interceptor missiles that can take out ballistic missiles. If you are looking to start your own ballistic missile business, the website has an entire “Business Opportunities” section, just for you.

The last site I wanted to cover is one that freaked me out a little bit. If you are a fan of Spongebob Squarepants (the popular children’s cartoon), then you may recall Plankton’s “evil plan Z” to take over the entire world. Well, the Department of Defense “Unified Command Plan” webpage looks to me like the US version of that plan.

us government websites

You’ve got the “combatant commanders” covering each region of the world. It’s like one big world map of global domination.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit sarcastic and overly critical of these websites. However, in all seriousness, is it really smart to be tossing money and resources into some of these government websites when there are so many major issues facing the country and the world? Shouldn’t the choice and development of government websites be at least a little bit more efficient and well thought out?

What’s your opinion about US Government websites, or some examples of silly government websites for your own country? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Boris15

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  1. Julia Winston-Smith
    September 25, 2011 at 2:46 am

    @facebook-100000334095711:disqus Well put. I liked that comment too. "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." -Benjamin Franklin

    Wasn't the Internet itself derived from a military project known as DARPANET developed in the 1960s or early '70s? I know the Swiss inventor Tim Berners-Lee is credited with what we now know as the World Wide Web (much to Al Gore's chagrin -- he must have wanted to take all the credit for discovering Cindy Margolis), but it's my understanding that the Internet itself actually began as a Dept. of Defense project.

    I've heard some speculation that it was actually developed as a surveillance mechanism for Vietnam protesters and other "dissidents" to keep tabs on them. Then the '80s and early '90s heyday of Usenet, IRC and BBSes gave us the predecessors to the "leet" pirate networks of today, back when a 56K modem was considered "Uber Leet" and faster than the speed of light, back when a 120 *megabyte* hard drive was comparable to the total land mass of the then-Soviet Union. Nowadays, I can see Russia from my home page -- the United States Soviet Republic is a reality of our too-near future -- while Google sees all of London, and all of France, and can also see you in your...well, you know the rest.

    @408c30669c942f49ecc7a8350098d2b9:disqus and @rdube:disqus About the U.S. education and propaganda, I wonder if you're familiar with James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me." Saw him at a conference and he really knows his stuff. Great book, too. Not only is *history* becoming rewritten to be politically correct (the Huck Finn controversy comes to mind in terms of history and English), but a lot of it is being taught as entirely wrong. I guess that doesn't matter if most kids in school think George Washington chopped down a palm tree and the Pilgrims came to the U.S. in 1992 aboard the Titanic -- or was it the Millennium Falcon? Shows how much some adults know, too, because after all, Paul Revere rode his Trojan Horse with a naked Lady Gaga to tell the Brits "we gotcha, you betcha" and John Quincy Jones was first to put his Herbie Hancock on the Constitution, too. *eyeroll*

    "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." -George Santayana

  2. TAallen
    September 16, 2011 at 12:26 am

    You lost me with "you know how creepy it is to see any government in the world attempting to “educate” children." it can be argued that the innovation that did more for making America the success it is was free, universal education for all children provided by the government.

    • Ryan Dube
      September 17, 2011 at 12:56 am

      Thanks TAallen, however what I meant is that no government should be mandating *what* children must be taught. That is not "free" education, that's propaganda. However, publicly funded education is what I think you are referring to, and in that regard I agree.

  3. Jeffery Fabish
    September 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I submitted my 'How to solve Earth's over population' with the answer 'Mass bloodshed'. Apparently it didn't make it to the front page... 

    A lot of these issues Americans get themselves worked up about. There's a quote (I forgot who it was by) that goes something like "No matter what they do to us, we won't let terrorism take over our lives" which I think was a response towards the Oslo bombing and shooting by Andrew Brevik. 

    America will win the battle against the Taliban and Al Qaeda but terrorism has already won it. Americans are too willing to give up freedoms and liberties in exchange for security (Don't believe me? Try to get applesauce through TSA at the airport.). However, if there was ever a nation to get security advice from, it's the US. I'm not going to get economic advice from a country who can't solve it's overwhelming debt crysis though.

    It's a nice change to see FEMA being more honest by saying get your own damn supplies.

    • Ryan Dube
      September 21, 2011 at 12:59 am

      Great comment Jeffery...I enjoyed that. :-)

    • Julia Winston-Smith
      September 25, 2011 at 3:02 am

      With the issue of overpopulation the only answer is birth control, much to the chagrin of the Bible thumpers, Mombies and Proud Padres out there. (As the Virgin Madonna sayeth so long ago: Papa, don't preach.)

      Although they're more than a little extreme, sites like VHEMT and CoE seem to have it right. As a species we have totally ravaged the physical climate in which we live, continually exerting our pseudo-superiority even as the species we use for food -- not just animals (I myself am a vegan) but plants and grains as well -- are being over-harvested, tainted with chemicals, and slaughtered inhumanely (in the case of animals). To paraphrase a bit from rock band Styx, we're killing ourselves, but we don't believe it.

      Yet Al Gore, that big bag of methane mentioned in my other post, spreads a whole lot of organic manure by taking a private jet and a Hummer to the G8 conference, and gets a Nobel Peace Prize. (A noble piece of what, I wonder?) IMHO Tipper should have slapped an Idiot Advisory sticker over that man's mouth. ;-)