Sunday, January 03, 2010

It Doesn't Just Happen

A Taiwan-California venture is making a product at a small fraction of the cost of several years ago, and it’s not a product that needs electricity.
[Orchids] are now found in Costco, Wal-Mart and Trader Joe's for as little as $15 or less, a bargain for a plant that takes up to two years to grow and whose blooms can last as long as a month or two. [snip] A couple of decades ago….an orchid plant could cost as much as $2,000 in the United States.
Why is California part of the story?
Taiwan's hot and humid climate is perfect for early-stage orchid growth. But the "spiking" process — the budding and blooming of orchids — needs cooler temperatures, a costly requirement for steamy Taiwan. So the young plants are shipped to California, where the cool coastal climate is well-suited for the blooming.
If I may mount the soapbox for a second, this is an excellent example why free-market capitalism with all its flaws is far superior to a command-and-control planned economy. The cost of orchids is unimportant to the great issues of the day: health care, climate change, terrorism, unemployment, etc. etc. No bureaucrat would devote an iota of resources to the “orchid problem” because he would not see a problem.

Profit-seeking capitalists saw an opportunity and risked capital and time. False starts and blind alleys later, the result is $15 orchids that add to the beauty around us. Everyone is richer, and some people think it just happens.

Climate change? Our azaleas are blooming on New Year's Day.

No comments: