4 min read

The Federal Government is Busy (Renaming Post Offices)

A waste of executive resources, or an essential function of government?
The Eisenhower Box. Do, Decide, Delegate, Delete. Where does renaming post offices fit?
Eisenhower Box. Where should renaming post offices fit? Credit: Dwight D. Eisenhower via JamesClear.com

The same day that the Supreme Court repealed Roe v Wade, president Biden signed 3 new bills into law.

All 3 were about renaming post offices.

Bills Signed: H.R. 735, H.R. 767 and ​H.R. 1444 | The White House
On Friday, June 24, 2022, the President signed into law: H.R. 735, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 502 East

One of these bills was for the Cotati, California post office, which is to be renamed the "Arturo L. Ibleto Post Office Building", after a republican donor  known locally as "The Pasta King".

H.R.735 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 502 East Cotati Avenue in Cotati, California, as the “Arturo L. Ibleto Post Office Building”.
Summary of H.R.735 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 502 East Cotati Avenue in Cotati, California, as the “Arturo L. Ibleto Post Office Building”.

Ibleto's wife Victoria was born a Ghirardelli, so I dug around to see if she was part of the old family of Genoese spice merchants that built the northern California chocolate empire. (She doesn't seem to be related.)

Arturo Ibleto, a Bella Life in Sonoma County | Sonoma County FB
To represent, protect and advance the social, economic and educational interests of the farmers and ranchers of Sonoma County.

From what I learned about this couple, the Ibleto's look like warm, loving people who fostered a lot of community by making people feel warm and welcome. By all means, name a post office after them. This should be celebrated.

BUT... With all the pots boiling in The United States there's no room for spending high-level resources on renaming postal facilities.

What's Spent on Renaming Post Offices:

  • Hundreds of hours of staff time.
  • Reams of paper.
  • Hundres of KW/h of electricity, with accompanying ghg.
  • Hours of phone calls.
  • Thousands of emails.
  • Floor time in the house and senate.
  • Comittee time in the house and senate.
  • Hours of White House staff time.
  • Minutes of presidential attention.
  • Hours of archivist and library services work.
  • Hundreds of hours of USPS executive and frontline labor hours to organize and execute the transition and the re-naming ceremony.
  • Outsourced signage and address-change contracts for the new facilility.
  • ALL paid for with federal tax dollars.

The American Leadership Disconnect

We have a brewing civil war, rising prices, a crumbling infrastructure, looming energy wars, and an existential climate threat - plus thousands of other issues which need immediate attention.

There is ZERO time for high level executives to spend on renaming post offices.

If you put renaming post offices in an Eisenhower Box it is Not Urgent and Not Important.

And sadly, beyond the grassroots level, these postal bills aren't really about honoring a local legend.

In each of these bills, a member of congress is seeking to influence a block of special interest voters back in the home district.

In order to achieve this, they must trade political capital to other politicians, who are working on similar efforts to protect or woo blocks of special interest voters back in their own home districts.

And the president participates because he's helping out Mike Thompson, the US Rep. who sponsored this bill.

At each level, the executive must be sure to feed their keyholders who help keep them in power. The favors and influence flow up and down, like a champagne tower caught in a timeloop.

That's how we end up renaming post offices instead of freeing people incarcerated for marijuana offenses, or indicting the previous president who fomented a coup. Certain keyholders don't want that. And mostly, nobody cares if you rename a post office.

This same thing happens in the corporate world too, where executives have to spend a lot of their time managing relationships (and accounts) with their keyholders. To stay up, they have to prioritize keyholder relations over process improvements, efficiency or and high-level strategy.

I heard a story the other day of a Disney executive who got a $26,000 bonus for saving the company $250m a year, while another guy who lost the company $800m got an $8m bonus. That's about protecting keyholders.

Who got the $800m that was 'lost', and who loses out when $250m is 'saved'?

The keyholders must fed first. Even in our 'democratic' system, our chief executive must take time to help a US Rep win a handful of votes in Northern California. By renaming post offices.

So... are our leaders evil or out of touch? Not much difference.

Mostly, they're are just trapped in a system that prioritizes greasing the wheels above all else. Little other bandwidth remains.

The primary function of government has always been the transfer of public goods into private pockets. This can be equitable and intelligent, or corrupt and dumb.

Today our country is on fire. And the bills that are getting signed are mostly about petty political favors, post offices, and pay days to the arms industry.

We're deep into corrupt and dumb.

But at least here in the US, the keyholders are all still getting paid, so things are holding together. For now.