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Ignorance Is Bliss

From the State of the Union speech:

“… Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

There is nothing complicated about smoked salmon, as a processed food it is under the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services. The fact that it is food should have been a clue.

Of course, the fact that fresh water is found within the country, while saltwater makes up the coastal waters should have been clues, but there is no requirement that any of the 536 people [545 if you include the Supreme Court] primarily responsible for the operation of the government of the United States have to be literate, or even of normal intelligence.

Update from comments: Salmon are under the supervision of the National Marine Fisheries Service (an agency in the Department of Commerce), no matter what the water tastes like. The Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior has no involvement.

That paragraph began with:

“We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV.”

Sorry, but since 1965 [color television broadcasts began in 1953] 6 new Cabinet-level Departments have been added, and one of the original Departments, the Post Office, has become a quasi-independent agency, the Postal Service. An increase of 50% is usually considered major.

4 comments

1 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 01.27.11 at 11:06 pm }

…the salmon thing was a cute enough joke and may have been intended to covey a particular point (and when it comes to natural resource management, I don’t really disagree with the fundamentals of that point), but it was incorrect. When a federal land management agency proposes a project that may have an impact on federally listed (i.e., “Threatened” or “Endangered”) salmon species, the required consultation regarding that impact is conducted with the National Marine Fisheries Service (an agency in the Department of Commerce) and not the Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of Interior). FWS isn’t involved, nor is any other DOI agency, in the management of salmon during the fresh-water portion of their life cycle…

2 Bryan { 01.27.11 at 11:35 pm }

OK, I was led astray by seeing all of the interactions in reference to Native American fishing rights, primarily in Alaska, and in changes in water flow in rivers, both impacting the salmon, and both dealt with through Interior bureaus or services, i.e. BIA, BLM, NPS, but not, now that you mention it, FWS.

I’ve updated the post accordingly, thank you, sir.

Yes, we need to eliminate some of the many jurisdictional conflicts in many areas and streamline things, but when offered the opportunity with the Department of Homeland Security, they botched the job. As long as Congress is involved, you can’t streamline things because that would reduce their ability to acquire power.

3 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 01.29.11 at 12:06 am }

…well, it wasn’t actually you that my comment was directed toward; it was Obama’s cutsie comment in the SOTU speech that you excerpted that I was responding to…

…it’s all cool…

4 Bryan { 01.29.11 at 12:23 am }

Yeah, but I screwed up making assumptions based on personal experience rather that doing the research, and got snarky about it. I know better, but I really don’t like this White House, and I get carried away.

Unlike the professional “journalists”, I like to get my facts straight, and correct any errors.

I don’t take corrections “personally”, I assume they are corrections of facts and that I make mistakes. I appreciate people caring enough to tell me when I screw up, so people don’t get misinformation from me.

I assumed that he got the basic points correct, and I should have known better.