The hottest word in Arizona is all together now "genomics." If you stumbled over that, just try saying $98.2 million or even imagining it. That's how much the state is trying to raise $30.4 million of it from your tax dollars to bring the International Genomics Consortium to Phoenix.
Here, as close as I can figure out from various news stories, is what's happening and why.
A "world-renowned" scientist by the name of Jeffrey Trent, the "leader" of the consortium, wants to "come back to his Arizona roots" and bring the consortium with him. Trent recently announced that Phoenix is "the first and preferred choice" if only the state can raise that $98.2 million what it will take to properly bankroll the venture.
Once it gets here and all the world-renowned scientists settle in, the International Genomics Consortium plans to collect tumor samples from hospitals and analyze them to understand the genetics behind cancer. From that information various institutes and universities, most of them hopefully right here in Arizona, will, in a perfect world, "develop practical applications."
While finding a cure for cancer sounds like a heck of a good thing, you gotta wonder why state officials are falling all over themselves to write Trent and his outfit a check for just about whatever he wants.
Gov. Jane Hull even talks of "the coming" of Genomics as the "biggest event since Motorola came to town after World War II." State and business leaders gush over research grants and huge profits to be shared from any scientific discoveries that turn up down the road.
But if this is such a great deal for Arizona, why aren't other states frantically trying to raise $98.2 million to lure the consortium away from us. Phoenix attorney Richard Mallery, whom The Arizona Republic calls the consortium's chairman, "wouldn't discuss other communities' proposals, but hinted that Atlanta could be in the running."
Could be? I don't know about you, but the fact that a lawyer is the chairman of this scientific consortium makes me more than a little nervous. And the fact that this lawyer will only say somebody else "could be" in the running makes me want to take my share of that $98.2 million and do something with it more likely to make me a buck like dropping it in a slot machine over at the casino.
But as luck would have it, another option has emerged that I would like to propose we do with our $98.2 million something in keeping with the medical/scientific nature of the genomics operation, but promising a much larger and more enduring return for our investment.
I suggest we give International Genomics the heave-ho and instead use the $98.2 million to lure the Berkshire-Wheat Research Center to Arizona from its current location in Birmingham, Ala. Instead of pie-in-the-sky promises about possible discoveries somewhere down the road, Berkshire-Wheat has already developed a product that is sure to reap huge profits for anybody wise enough to jump on the bandwagon.
Their product, Dioxadren, is a new, improved non-prescription version of Viagra. The company claims that while Viagra performs as it's supposed to, it "ignores all underlying conditions which typically lead to impotence...." and has other drawbacks.
Dioxadren, on the other hand, multiplies the testosterone absorption rate by 19 times so that much less can be used and side effects are minimized. So far, so good and here's the clincher: the editors of "Science Magazine" named Dioxadren the latest recipient of its fabled "Molecule of the Year" award.
Now it's true that we Arizonans are a little tetched from too much sun. But human nature being what it is, I would be willing to wager that we'd get a whole lot faster return on our $98.2 million by teaming up with the folks who make a sex-enhancement drug that puts Viagra to shame and doesn't require a prescription especially if that drug has just been named "Molecule of the Year."
And if the state's not interested, I suggest we get the ever-industrious Scott Flake and his PREDC to spearhead an effort to bring this outfit to Payson. I can see the new town limit signs now:
Welcome to Payson
Home of the Longest Continuous Sex Drug and Molecule of the Year.
We wouldn't even have to worry about Prescott beating us to the punch. There's not much of a market for non-continuous sex drugs.