Why We're Screwed
There are so many things wrong with this story it's hard to know where to start. Let's go with an immediate Business 101 level observation: if you are dependent on one customer for your continued existence, you have a problem. Diversify. Find other markets for your product. Find other business avenues to explore. Do something, anything, so if the big customer quits buying from you, you can survive. Frankly, piss-poor business practices alone should ensure Ashland Sales & Service goes bankrupt.
Moving right along, let's discuss the contracting issue. You have no right to have the taxpayer buy your product, okay? If, as it appears was the case, the Federal Bureau of Prisons can provide the item at a lower cost, guess what? I want the Federal Bureau of Prison to provide it. The federal government is not a jobs program. The fed should be trying to be wise stewards of the taxpayers' dime, which means going with lowest-cost bidding. If you ain't the lowest cost, screw you. Compete. Lower your costs. Improve your productivity. Don't whine about how the mean Federal Bureau of Prisons has lower labor costs and it's impossible to do anything. In other words, do your job and don't run to the government to get protection. This is the epitome of special interest: AS&S wants the government to screw over the taxpayer so they can benefit from the decision.
Next up, why in the hell are we buying special jackets for Air Force One, anyway? Unless things have changed, the zoomies get uniforms just like us groundlings did. All the personnel on Air Force have jackets, thoughtfully provided at taxpayer expense. What, they need another just because they fly on the same plane as their boss? Last time I checked, we don't have a palace guard in this country. The President is not the God-Emperor of America, and those blessed with his presence shouldn't get special uniforms. And the man himself? The President does not need a nice pretty flight jacket, and even if he wants one, he makes 400 large a year and should be able to afford one all by his own self.
Strangely, none of this was discussed in the coverage I've seen. These are basic considerations that maybe, just maybe, we should be considering when we decide to spend the government's our money. Instead, everybody's tear-jerking about how the business will go under and people will be unemployed and boo-fucking-hoo. Quit trying to tug on my heartstrings and think for a minute. We are $15 trillion and change in debt, and we have to be a jobs program for jacket manufacturers. We can't get anyone to ask "Why are we buying these jackets? And if we have to buy them, why can't we get them cheaper?" Nobody in the government is empowered to ask these questions but our elected officials, and they don't have the fortitude and willpower to do what's necessary.
And that, boys and girls, is why we're screwed: We have given ourselves the government we deserve.