Jenny Rohn has an article on the wasted effort into failed grant writing, which is so full of good paragraphs it’s hard to figure out which one to snip: “Show me the money: Grantwriting is taking over science”. Here’s one:
There is some evidence that having the vast majority of scientists spend the vast majority of their time writing grants instead of doing and thinking science might be a tad inefficient, and not, perhaps, the best way to get science done. A recent correspondence in Nature about the Australian system, for example, reported that collectively, in 2012, researchers spent "more than five centuries' worth of time" writing or revising grants for the major funding scheme; as only 20.5% were successful, this account for a staggering four centuries' worth of wasted time.
I suppose if we looked at the U.S. we’d be talking about the geological timescale.