Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

American can not even make Condoms

American Jobs Threatened by Cheap Chinese Condoms
Some of the world's greatest condom manufacturers are based in America. There was a time when the words "made in the USA," stamped on a box of prophylactics, were a reassuring mark of quality, a veritable guarantee that the enclosed pessary would not fail in its appointed duty.

With the American economy in turmoil, the government has decided to drop a long-standing contract with a U.S. company and give it to a foreign one, the Kansas City Star reported.

In a move that will cost around 300 American jobs, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has decided to purchase condoms from foreign companies — in countries like South Korea and China — because they cost less than American-made prophylactics, the Star reported.

The agency distributes billions of condoms to poor countries around the world, but has previously used only American-made condoms because of "Buy American" regulations, the Star reported. The stimulus bill that recently passed in Congress, however, does not include that provision for condoms.

A USAID official told the Star that the agency considered the jobs that would be lost, but that the foreign condoms cost about 2 cents. American ones cost about 5 cents.

Alatech, an Alabama company that had been USAID's previous sole supplier, protested the contract's move, but the Government Accountability Office rejected the compliant saying the company had no standing, the Star reported.

Condom factory workers are unhappy about the move.

“We pay taxes down here, too, and with all this stimulus money going to save jobs, it seems to me like they should share this contract so they can save jobs here in America,” Fannie Thomas, who has worked at Alatech for 40 years, told the Star.

“I’ve made condoms here for 20 years,” Cindy Robinson, a $9.50-an-hour employee at Alatech, told the Star. “I understand why they bid the contract overseas, but they should buy American first, and I feel they are going back on their word.”

Rep. Bobby Bright sent a letter this week to the United States Agency for International Development

By Patrick Johnston
Published: March 25, 2009

Eufaula’s representative in Washington is concerned about the potential loss of jobs at a local latex plant.

Rep. Bobby Bright sent a letter this week to the United States Agency for International Development asking the federal organization to reconsider its decision to purchase condoms outside of the United States. Otherwise, the future of Alatech’s plant in Eufaula - and at least 100 jobs - will be in jeopardy.

USAID is planning to outsource condom manufacturing that had been occurring in Eufaula to other countries, including China. The condoms are distributed by USAID for AIDS prevention in Third World countries.

According to a recent article in the Kansas City Star, USAID officials state they can purchase the condoms cheaper overseas (the cost is two cents per condom compared to five cents now). They also cited delivery concerns with Alatech.

A USAID source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Star that the organization “considered how many U.S. jobs would be affected by this move.” But the source added that the change is being made because of the lower cost and the fact that Congress dropped “buy American language” in a recent appropriations bill. (Attempts by The Tribune to contact USAID were unsuccessful as of Wednesday afternoon.)

Bright said USAID should not send the contract and the jobs overseas.

“Alabama is home to the last and only domestic supplier of condoms to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as well as for any and all condom needs for the U.S. foreign assistance program worldwide,” Bright wrote to USAID Acting Adminstrator Alonzo L. Fulgham.

“Recently, decisions were made that will result in the loss of hundreds of jobs in my district. Given the current economic climate, I believe preserving American jobs should be of the highest priority.”

Alatech’s CEO says that USAID reversed an earlier decision to buy American.

“We came to Eufaula based on assurances from USAID that they would continue to buy American condoms and now USAID has changed its mind,” Alatech CEO Larry Povlacs stated Wednesday in an e-mail. “If we do not get an additional order soon we will be faced with laying off much of our staff again, and we will be faced with the real possibility of closing our doors.”

More information on this story will appear in the weekend edition of The Eufaula Tribune, available Friday morning.

And now...well, American condoms have fallen on hard times. Recently, in fact, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a federally-funded organization that provides economic, social, and medical aid to overseas countries, decided that, when the rubber hits the road, they are not committed to buying American. In a surprising change of direction, USAID switched from American-made condoms to sheaths that are manufactured in China and Korea.

Puns aside, this is no laughing matter for Eufala, Alabama. The small town, whose citizens have been making condoms for almost 40 years, is reliant upon rubbers for a fair bit of the local economy. USAID, which has distributed an estimated 10 billion condoms overseas, was a major client, and its decision may cost Alatech, the local manufacturer, up to 300 jobs. As the consequences ripple through the area, Eufala can expect to lose many, many more jobs.

This decision wasn't made lightly, but Alatech, unfortunately, charges more than five cents per condom. While this price seems very low to anyone who has ever purchased a retail prophylactic, when multiplied across a massive order like USAID's, it becomes quite high. Overseas suppliers, notably Korea's Unidus corporation and China's Quingdao Double Butterfly Group, can supply condoms for as little as two cents apiece.

Of course, China and Korea don't have to deal with America's pesky labor laws, but that's another matter entirely...

Moreover, Alatech and the government have previously had disputes over delivery and product specifications, although Alatech claims that its delivery problems have long since been handled. The primary problem, apparently, lies in the fact that Alatech's condoms are very thick, which has caused some overseas beneficiaries to reject them. The Alabama company asserts that it can manufacture the condoms to almost any specification, and made USAID's sheaths thick because those were the requirements that the government demanded.

For that matter, it's worth noting that, as recent pet food and lead-toy scandals have demonstrated, China's manufacturing industry is far from perfect. In fact, by its own admission, its condoms are often too thick, too uncomfortable, and have poor quality control.

The government, meanwhile, has hired a Massachusetts company to act as a middleman, shielding it from a bid protest. In this, USAID has been helped by Congress' decision to drop the "buy American" provision in a recent spending bill. In doing so, it opened the door for USAID to seek overseas vendors.

If the government's stimulus program won't help condom manufacturers to retain their employees, then maybe it's time for consumers to pick up the slack. The next time you find yourself trying to choose between Durex or Trojan condoms, ask yourself if you'd rather put food on an American table or one in England. When it comes to rubbers, remember your patriotic duty and keep America's prophylactic makers in business!

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