Monday, March 23, 2009

A Stimulating Conundrum

Washington's idea of a stimulus package seems to be springing leaks. They want to spend taxpayer money to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

So why are they buying condoms from China?

the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has distributed an estimated 10 billion U.S.-made AIDS-preventing condoms in poor countries around the world.

But not anymore.
They will still be handing out condoms, just not ones made in the United States.

In a move expected to cost 300 American jobs, the government is switching to cheaper off-shore condoms, including some made in China.
Outsourcing condoms. What is the world coming to?

"Of course, we considered how many U.S. jobs would be affected by this move,” said a USAID official who spoke on the condition that he would not be named. But he said the reasons for the change included lower prices (2 cents versus more than 5 cents for U.S.-made condoms) and the fact that Congress dropped “buy American language” in a recent appropriations bill.
Makes you wonder how effective is a 2 cent condom?

Or a nickel one for that matter.

Besides, he said, the sole U.S. supplier — an Alabama company called Alatech — had previous delivery problems under the program.
Delivery problems. Probably a joke in there somewhere but this is serious business.

It's clear that Alatech's problems over the years, which apparently have been resolved, may have driven U.S. officials to seek much less expensive foreign-made condoms in the first place.

But that's cold comfort to Fannie Thomas, who has been making AIDS-preventing condoms in southeastern Alabama for nearly 40 years in the small town of Eufaula.
When the company loses this contract the plant will have no choice but to shut down, putting some 300 people, including Fannie Thomas, out of work.
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