How is a state agency like an albatross?

This is a Laysan Albatross:

Laysan albatross breakfast tollkeeperPhoto by Stephanie Batzer

They’re amazing birds, capable of flying huge distances with long wings that lock into place, and a swooping glide that exploits ground effect to use minimal energy. However, they can’t reliably tell the difference between the delicious and nutritious squid they’ve evolved to hunt and pieces of crap left behind by the plastics industry, so they often eat plastic waste that floats on the sea. They feed their young by regurgitation, and sometimes manage to give their chicks so much plastic that the chick starves due to the lack of stomach capacity left over for real food.

This is the headquarters of the California Environmental Protection Agency:


Though somewhat less impressive than the product of millions of years of evolution, I have plenty of positive things to say about this agency. In particular, they tend to set stricter standards than their Federal counterparts for a wide array of pollution controls, and often manage to lead the rest of the country into doing the same – a valuable service to the entire world. However, they also can’t reliably distinguish between what is good for children and pieces of crap left behind by the plastics industry, in this instance inserting propaganda from the American Chemical Council into a textbook section about plastic bags.

Is it really too much to ask that the people who get to influence a generation of children be smarter than a hapless albatross?

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