This is how it works: say you're a company that wants to do business with the city of San Francisco. But there's a small problem; San Francisco is full of not only liberals, but very, very earnest liberals who want to be engaged in the political process. This leads to a certain mindset* that thinks that it is just dandy to make government conform to the wishes of its populace in things like procurement and acceptable vendors - whether or not the wishes of the populace have any bearing on modern economic realities. To give just one example: San Francisco insists that corporations doing business with it disclose if they were ever involved with slavery... which would be an impressive moral stance to take if it weren't for the minor detail that they never seem to require that sort of thing from, say, the Democratic party.
But I digress.
So. You're a vendor who doesn't want to rip up your tropical hardwood floors just so that you can get the paperclip contract for the local urban development office; but you would like to sell some paperclips - and the local urban development office would like to buy them from you. What do you do? Well, what you two do is you find yourself a middleman company who is in compliance with all those fiddly little regulations. The urban development office signs a contract with the middleman to procure the paperclips. The middleman buys the paperclips from you. The middleman sells the paperclips to the urban development office. You're happy: the paperclips have been sold, you keep your hardwood floors, life is good. The middleman is happy: they get a 'modest' - well, if you define a range from 10% to 150% as being 'modest' - [markup], life is good. The urban development office is happy: they have their paperclips, they've struck a blow for social justice, and besides: it's not like it's their money, or anything. So, really, everybody's happy...
Oh, the current San Francisco budget deficit is $304 million; the debt is $1.3 billion in 'non-voter approved debt,' which is admittedly a somewhat ominous phrase. But I'm sure that they'll just tax a few millionaires and it'll all be better later...
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I believe that the military defines it neatly as Diligent/Stupid.