Here’s an excellent video about an empty city in China that has been built using government funds. Ploughing billions of dollars in infrastructure and construction works theorectically improves the GDP but benefits no one (unless you count the companies that were awarded the contracts), and actually punishes tax-payers. But of course, the people reaping the rewards are not those being punished so there is no incentive to change the way things are.
The government bailout of poorly run companies (via direct investment and subsidizing of their products) also distorts the GDP. GDP numbers in the US without the Trillion dollar bailout would not look so rosy.
Despite all the talk of the economy being out of recession, 39 million people in are on food stamps. [source: USA Today] Thats 12.65% of the US population! And 6 million of that number have no other source of income. In what was once the world’s most prosperous nation, 2% of people would starve if the government didn’t send them food stamps.