Our Intergalactic Competition
That kind of thinking is passé and could cause us significant problems in our economic redevelopment of this region. That is why I am disappointed that members of the Windsor Essex Development Commission went to London, England for a trade show to try and drum up business for this region. They have missed the boat, or rather should I say the rocketship.
If you are a mover and shaker in town, then you know which book is the one that our Mayor is reading many times over to get a leg up over everybody else. My inside moles at the Windsor Library tell me that the book du jour that is being taken out by the cognoscenti in town is "The War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells.
Here's the start of the first chapter so you will see what I mean:
- THE EVE OF THE WAR
No one would have believed...that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter...At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
Of course, you are probably wondering what I am talking about. What can a so-called "fictional" book about Mars have to do with Windsor and economic development you might think. It should be obvious to you if you read the news.
Clearly, Wells was a man who was ahead of his time. He was not talking literally about war between Earthlings and Martians. Rather he was talking about economic competition between us. Competition for new markets is no longer just global, rather it is intergalactic and will be spread throughout the universe as life is found on other planets.
Read what he wrote again. Just think of how complacent we North Americans became as we lost our manufacturing plants and jobs to countries in Asia as an example. Why I just read that the auto industry in Mexico may be bigger soon than Canada's! You have no choice but to agree with me that business people in other countries "slowly and surely drew their plans against us."
Oh I can hear you chuckling again. You just do not get it do you. Don't you remember. The future of our airport and our intermodal-hub is based on this fantastic deal that Eddie is working on with a startup company in Germany to send them onions for their European markets. We were told that onions that we can produce for pennies per bunch can be sold in Europe for almost four dollars. And with the Salmonella scare respecting tomatoes, think of the sales we can make with our pure and wholesome Leamington tomatoes as we flood the market:
- "Green onions and the Windsor Airport are the keys to providing the city with "jobs, jobs, jobs," say the mysterious heads of a German aviation consultancy firm...
For example, Michael said, a bundle of green onions that sells here for $0.69 at this time of the year in Windsor would sell in Germany for the equivalent of $3.60.
"Now, if you look at the price difference, you'll immediately see there's a big opportunity to export spring onions to Europe. And at $3.60 consumer price, you can easily afford the transportation from Windsor anywhere to Europe."
Our future is secure and profitable. Or so I thought.
Did you read the story from ABC News that completely shocked me and suggested that we need to look at economic competition in a much different light. We need to rethink who our competition is and plan for it now if we are to be successful:
- "Soil on Mars 'good for asparagus'
NASA says the soil collected by the Phoenix Lander is similar to dirt found in backyards on Earth.
There is still no answer to the old question of whether there has ever been life on Mars but apparently there could be vegetable life.
NASA scientists say the soil they have collected from the northern polar regions of the red planet would be good for growing asparagus and turnips, but probably not strawberries.
The Phoenix Mars Lander scooped up soil with its robotic arm and scientists say the sample is similar to dirt found in some backyards on Earth...
"The sort of soil you have there is the type of soil you'd probably have in your backyard, you know, alkaline...
"It would have been ideal soil to say, you know, grow asparagus in or beans or turnips or, you know, things like that.
"But yeah, too high an acidity for strawberries say, or blueberries..."
"But on Mars there are still some problems.
"You don't have the liquid water, it's very cold so you're going to end up with the worst frost bite on your asparagus."
Hrrumph. Clearly NASA scientists know a lot about outer space but very little about big cash crops. Clearly, they have never heard about "ice wines," one of the profitable crops in this County. Can "ice asparagus" be far behind as a marketing gimmick from the Red Planet?
Our future is not as secure as we thought. It is clear that the Mayor will have to read Wells' book many times if he is to capture the vegetable market from our out of this world competitors. As our German friends told us, the key is the difference between cost price and consumer price. If the difference is high enough "you can easily afford the transportation from [Mars] anywhere to [Earth]."
Oh and the Martians will become very, very strong competitors. Their vegetables will do extremely well on Earth. As Wells told us also in his book:
- "And speaking of the differences between the life on Mars and terrestrial life, I may allude here to the curious suggestions of the red weed.
Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead of having green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-red tint. At any rate, the seeds which the Martians (intentionally or accidentally) brought with them gave rise in all cases to red-coloured growths. Only that known popularly as the red weed, however, gained any footing in competition with terrestrial forms. The red creeper was quite a transitory growth, and few people have seen it growing. For a time, however, the red weed grew with astonishing vigour and luxuriance. It spread up the sides of the pit... and its cactus-like branches formed a carmine fringe to the edges of our triangular window. And afterwards I found it broadcast throughout the country, and especially wherever there was a stream of water."
The red Martian asparagus will clearly command a premium price in the marketplace and yet it can be grown so cheaply it appears!
Don't listen to me or to H. G Wells. He was telling us our future as many of the leading science fiction writers have done with their books. What he suggested is now being substantiated by NASA.
If you choose NOT to listen, then I can only leave you with what Wells wanted as his epitaph:
- "I told you so. You damned fools."