Finding souvenirs that fit our values

Hats off and thanks to Carol L. Burnett of AFSCME Headquarters: Writing in response to a Post article outlining the efforts of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in securing Made-in-the-USA souvenirs from the Smithsonian: Finding souvenirs that fit our values As someone whose job it has been for a decade to buy not only American-made goods but also U.S. union-made products, I was surprised to read the Smithsonian’s Peters Gibbons quoted as saying that he can’t find dog tags and magnets made in the United States [“A souvenir shift at the Smithsonian,” news story, April 17]. It may be more difficult to find American manufacturers, but it is not impossible, and with a little work, Mr. Gibbons will find that he can even get competitive bids on U.S., union-made goods. I have long been appalled that Americans buy so many products made outside the country, much to the detriment of our workers who have seen their jobs shipped overseas, hence our high unemployment rate. The new Smithsonian policy to buy American should be applauded. Carol L. Burnett, Washington The writer is an assistant director of public affairs at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal...

How Gangsters With Briefcases Mugged the Muni Market

The Crooks Who Caused U.S. Financial Pickle That the Politicians Now Blame on Public Workershere was a crime wave raging in America in 2008, but the news media never picked up on it. No one can say how much was stolen, but it’s clear that politicians in states as diverse as California, Michigan, Texas, New York, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Maryland and even Wisconsin are trying to recover what was lost by taking it out of the paychecks of their public workers. Victims of this theft by some of the best known names in banking included public employee pension funds, individual IRAs, millions of homeowners and, of course, taxpayer funds held in trust by states, counties and cities. Chances are, you, your family and your neighbor were all victims, more than once. In the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market, gangsters with brief cases conspired with major banks and financial intermediaries to fix bids. Agents from firms that were supposed to advise state and local offi cials were instead giving inside information to bidders in exchange for generous kickbacks from the bankers. The Bank of America, Citigroup Inc, JP Morgan, Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings, Wachovia, General Electric Co., and 10 other financial organizations have been implicated. At times, these banks conspired to take turns losing bids to infl ate interest rates, keep profi ts high and business booming. The U.S. Justice Department, working with the Securities Exchange Commission, the FBI, the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, secured guilty pleas from a number of individuals who were involved in the municipal...

I Am a Federal Employee

By Kelly Arsenault From the Huffingtonpost.com As we draw closer to a government shutdown, I have been reading with great interest. You see, I am a federal employee employed at Fort Drum as a civilian mail clerk. I am looking at the possibility of a furlough for as long as it takes for Congress to reach an agreement. It could be days or it could be weeks, but regardless of how long, I am more concerned at how much. How much will this affect my family? How much will it hurt us financially? The uncertainty is maddening as I, and my fellow federal workers, watch the stage show that is called Washington Politics gamble with our way of making a living. As I have been reading articles about the progress, or lack thereof, in Congress, I am more dismayed by the comments of so many. Comments such as “SHUT IT DOWN!” and “let the federal workers get a real job!” are common. There seems to be a misinterpretation about being a federal employee that is rampant in not only the general public, but with certain members of Congress as well. Yes, as with any government agency, there is waste and certain things need to be pared down. Maybe there are more upper level employees in the federal system than there were ten years ago, but that is not the proper snapshot of a federal employee. Many of us are on the lower end of the pay scale, making the same or slightly less than our counterparts in the civilian sector. I am one of those federal workers at the...

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