Author: R. S. Radford
From Peter Gordon's blog (April 8, 2010), the best explanation I've seen for government's penchant to both take on completely unmanageable tasks and obsess over trivialities:
"In some walks of life, defeats prompt retrenchment. ("Pivoting" in current discussions.) But in other fields, frustrations with the smaller problems only whet the appetite for bigger ones. In my city and state, officials cannot fix the potholes, so they focus on global warming. Never mind that localities' impacts would be negligible absent the cooperation of, say, China. The same folks cannot get the schools under their jurisdiction to adequately teach the basics so they focus on what students ingest at lunch and recess."