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On condoms, conservative consternation and construction companies

Thursday, Jun 26, 2014

* From the Illinois Policy Institute

Even though Illinois state government is essentially broke, it apparently knows how to have a good time.

In 2013, Illinois state government awarded two contracts totaling more than $1 million for the procurement of condoms and lubricant.

The bid solicitation document requested a variety of condoms, including “extra large” and even some in “assorted colors.” No ribbing was allowed – only “smooth surface” condoms were permitted.

Lubricant, however, was to be provided in “assorted flavors.” Scents were optional.

All in all, the state bid out for 4,453,000 condoms and 374,000 bottles of lubricant. […]

If Illinois has any hope of balancing its budget, it has to begin cutting low-priority spending. Is it too much to ask people to purchase their own flavored lubricant? I hope not.

* Commenters over at Illinois Review were not pleased

K Harris said…

    At least it’s nice to know that we are protected while they are screwing us.

The Observer said…

    Now, if the intended recipients would just USE them, both the welfare rolls and Cook County Democrat voter numbers might be reduced.

Jacob said…

    Lets look at the positive. In the long run it will saves us many millions having less of people sitting in the wagon being paid to exist.

* The Aids Foundation of Chicago responded to the original piece

Every new HIV case costs an estimated $390,000 in lifetime medical costs, much of which is paid for by the state. HIV cases are rising fastest among young gay and bisexual men (and particularly young African Americans and Latinos). Aren’t their lives worth $1 million?

Furthermore, Cook County currently boasts the highest number of gonorrhea cases of any county in the nation, and stands at number two for chlamydia and syphilis cases. This is but a fraction of the total number of sexually transmitted infection cases in the U.S. — 19 million every year — which accounts for an estimated $17 billion in medical costs.

Rasmussen also implies that condom availability programs aren’t effective or worth the state’s investment. In fact, the evidence is extremely strong that condom availability programs have “significant intervention effects… for the following outcomes: condom use, condom acquisition/condom carrying, delayed sexual initiation among youth, and reduced incident STIs.”

Compared with spending billions for medical care, isn’t it more cost-effective to provide the tools that can bring improve outcomes and reduce and medical costs — and save lives? These are the very things the state is providing, like male and female condoms in different colors and sizes, along with lube in flavors other than “plain.” And doesn’t it make sense to provide HIV prevention tools that are appealing and — gasp — fun?

There are links in both stories which support their contentions.

* Free condom distribution has been going on for decades. The oddest thing about the Policy Institute’s story, however, was this

One of the two successful bidders was a health care products company. The other? A Chicagoland construction company. A natural fit if ever there was one.

Um, what the heck?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    The Chicago construction company providing condoms here is pretty bizarre.

  2. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Age old public health program.

    It’s been the source of controversy before:

  3. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    Tongue planted firmly in cheek: Don’t we all need ones built tough!

  4. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    One deletion already. Keep it clean, people. Thanks.

  5. - Person 8 - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    So let’s not give away these condoms and then have to pay for all the babies that young kids are having.

    What a money saver!

  6. - train111 - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    Typical IR comments–Rant first, engage brain last

  7. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    === Typical IR comments–Rant first, engage brain last ===

    That’s why IR is not a think tank despite it’s self-description. It’s a partisan advocacy group that doesn’t hesitate to use hyperbole to advocate for conservative causes.

    One can argue the policy implications and effectiveness of the program, but to get cutesy with the article lead-in belies the true nature of the organization.

  8. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Let me retract the incorrect initials. I should have wrote “IPI” and not “IR.”

  9. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    I so want to use the correct term for a construction company that raises steel frame buildings but I don’t want to get deleted…

    Now if a firm with that in it’s name was the construction firm, it would make sense….

  10. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    For the construction industry, this really is diversification.

  11. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Sonds like a hostage situation. Give me free condoms or else I will…..

  12. - Timmeh - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    ==A Chicagoland construction company. A natural fit if ever there was one.==

    Nice pun.

  13. - Been There - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    From their website:
    ===Prime Contracting:
    All of JKC’s construction specialists come from a prime contracting background with over 24 years of experience each. Each project is assigned a project manager with responsibilities that include submittal tracking, owner / client relations, pay applications, safety, etc. Typical prime construction projects range from Water / Wastewater Facilities and midsize concrete structures to Parks and Recreational Facilities.===

    It must have something to do with the Recreational Facilities

  14. - Fake Herzog - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:04 pm:


    The John Keno connection is even more curious when you notice that they are listed as 100% BEP. For your readers who might not know, the “BEP” is the Business Enterprise Program and is similar to the City’s M/WBE program — in other words it is designed to set-aside a portion of State contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses.

    What is strange (to me at least) is that the State lists John Keno as a minority- and female-owned business (as well as a person with disability-owned business):

    If that link doesn’t work, just search for them yourself on CMS’ website.

    But if you go to the link Rich provided to the John Keno website, there is no mention of minorities (unless you count Italians!) or women running the company (although I guess daughters or granddaughters of the founder, Keno Vignocchi, could now be owners and in charge:

    All very curious I say…

  15. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    It is astounding the number of candidates and groups on the right that fight birth control measures in 2014. the abstinence wackos should be uncovered at every turn, put in the light of sunshine, and called out for their nonsense. It is absurd to fight prevention measure that help guard against disease and unwanted pregnancies.

  16. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    Conservatives have never cared about black lives, why would they start now, especially if they can moralize about how much better they allegedly are?

  17. - just sayin' - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:32 pm:


    If you want government out of your bedroom, quit asking us to fund your bedroom supplies.

  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===If you want government out of your bedroom, quit asking us to fund your bedroom supplies.===

    One would be a constitutional right, the other would be a discretionary government health program. Not much of a trade.

  19. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    It seems condoms are now like book matches used to be. Why in the world would anyone buy them when they give them away at the clip being reported. Hard to imagine any good excuse for someone who needs to, not using them.

  20. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    –One would be a constitutional right, the other would be a discretionary government health program.–

    And it’s an investment with a high ROI. I’m all for supplying free condoms (and birth control). While some don’t want to fund it, I think it makes a lot more economic sense than funding child care, medical costs, healthcare, aids, etc.

    It’s perfectly legit to question the oddities of the contracts though and the lube… why are we funding the lube? That seems odd to me as well.

  21. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:58 pm:

    It seems condoms are now like book matches used to be. Why in the world would anyone buy them when they give them away at the clip being reported. Hard to imagine any good excuse for someone who needs to, not using them.


    No ribbing was allowed

    and Precinct Captain, good luck with that troll bait…

  22. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    @just sayin’ sex happens. it is in the public interest to make sure things are safe, and that pregnancy is wanted.

  23. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    The Holiday Party at the IPI must be a real butt-kicking good time.

  24. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    @Ahoy (and others)

    Although it seems odd to be purchasing lube, in the context of ‘risky’ sex (read male-male) it is required or the condom will certainly break. If the condom breaks, the HIV transmission rate goes up.

    If we want to help prevent disease it’s best to have the condoms lubricated, to avoid them breaking.

    Hence the purchase of lube.

  25. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:34 pm:

    How Ironic, that’s a better point than I had imagined. I wondered why the lube had to be part of this too. I thought selfish lovers were too blame. Total snark; be gentle.

  26. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    @How Ironic yes, but to be sure, lube is not just a male-male only issue. in many kinds of sexual interactions, and especially with an aging population, it is necessary.

  27. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:48 pm:


    Agreed, but my point was simply that while on the surface the purchase of lube seems silly, there are some real health&safety concerns if it’s not used in certain circumstances.

    I have no statistical proof to back this up, but I’m willing to bet a frosty adult beverage that the target audience for the free condoms and lube isn’t post-menapausal women. However great the need is.

  28. - Willie Stark - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:54 pm:

    That works out to a per item cost of 21 cents, a pretty great deal compared to retail prices, which, for some are actually a significant impediment to use. But, this is what we would expect from the IPI. It ignores science and math, looking at the world through it’s Ayn Randian lenses while, ironically, receiving succor from those who made their fortunes via industries that require science and math to exist and operate. And, “news” outlets like the Trib are always happy to provide legitimacy via articles and the op/ed page, regardless of IPI’s sizable roster of harebrained “analysts”.

  29. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    How Ironic,

    fair enough, I’m not a condom expert (that would make a good t-shirt). Although I thought they made lubricated condoms, maybe they don’t work as well, see earlier statement.

    Now maybe you can explain the construction company.

  30. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    Now maybe you can explain the construction company

    Abe Froman decided not to bid on it this year…

  31. - OurMagician - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    I’d rather the union pipefitters worked on this than a construction company.

  32. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:23 pm:


    Regarding the construction company…wasn’t one of the Village People a construction worker? Perhaps he’s now the owner?

    On a serious note, I have no idea.

  33. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:34 pm:

    @How Ironic, I’ve heard that the greatest population with increasing STDs is the aging population. they may be older, but they are certainly different in practice than their grandparents. happy aging!

  34. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    === OurMagician - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    I’d rather the union pipefitters worked on this than a construction company.====

    No comment. I just laughed so hard I thought this was worth seeing twice.

  35. - Steve Downstate - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 4:19 pm:

    Is this an office-building construction company or a highway-building construction company? Probably the latter. They bid on this project simply because this is where the rubber meets the road.

  36. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 5:39 pm:

    What Amilia said. Kid, you got game on this one. The 2014 wacko war on contraception is beyond belief.

    I’m sure it was a good day at IPI when they could gin up the Outrage Machine over some small-bore program related to nookie.

    But their views sure ain’t conservative, unless they want to make the argument that there should be no public health program at all.

    It might not be evident at the IPI offices, but most of humanity between certain ages has been blessed with a God-given libido that makes them seek to be fruitful and multiply.

    And you can start with the Book of Genesis, go all the way through the Bible, comb world literature in your local libary, and pay attention to your life’s experience, and can see sometimes that leads to unintended consequences.

    That’s just the way God wanted it.

    Now, they’re free to make the argument that government should have no role at all in public health. Make your case.

    But it they don’t, it’s clear that free condoms get you more bang for the buck, so to speak, than anything else.

    What’s the cost of a Medicaid pregnancy? HIV? STD?

    Free condoms are as conservative as you can get.

  37. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 5:58 pm:

    @Wordslinger, you are the best!!!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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