Dr. Shmuckburn, Senator from Oklahoma
We like our doctors. We trust our doctors. They are highly trained and they know what is good for us, what makes us feel better. So Dr. Tom Coburn, a family practitioner who specializes in obstetrics and allergy treatment in Muskogee, Oklahoma, must be right when he called the Fort Collins Bike Library, which lets people check out bikes for free for up to five days, one of the most wasteful projects of the year.
Wrong, Dr. Shmuckburn.
In a time when Americans are getting fatter and fatter and the globe is getting warmer and warmer, any effort to get people's butts out of their cars and onto a bike seat is an admirable one, especially since it only cost $66,000 in 2008 -- or about the cost of a single Cadillac SUV.
Unfortunately, Dr. Coburn is also a Republican U.S. Senator, and the author of "2008: Worst Waste of the Year," which highlights what he calls "absurd federal spending from beltway bureaucrats and elected officials."
In addition to a number of other bicycle-related projects, the good doctor also lambastes a $300,000 skate park; a $517,000 program that teaches troubled teenagers in Cleveland how to grow vegetables and turn their crops into salsa that they sell; and a measly $15,000 grant to give homeless people in Ohio access to voicemail (which could help them find a job or health care).
In fact, most of the projects the Okie from Muskogee, M.D. doesn't like involve funding for the revitalization of public venues, scenic trails, art, museums and other cultural facilities, scientific studies, or things that help kids and teenagers.
The Fort Collins Bike Library, for its part, was the recipient of a federal clean air grant. It lets anyone with a credit card check out a bike. Since it opened last April, it has signed up 1,965 different people, with customers riding more than 21,000 miles on their bikes, according to a story in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Seems like Dr. Shmuckburn should go back to school. Take two of that and call us in the morning.
For previous Shmucks, see our Shmuck of the Week archive.