Morning Glories (or the Bindweed Effect)

This morning as the sun came out, I found these beautiful morning glories blooming. What rich and dynamic colors. When I was a child, we had morning glories in the flower bed near the front steps of the house, and I always delighted in them. Morning glories make a hard seed that is durable regardless of season and temperature, and these plants come up year after year. The seeds are so hard that my father taught me early on, in order to plant them, one must to soak them in water overnight so they will swell up and split open. Otherwise they might sit underground for years before they finally open naturally.

So it was surprise, with a touch of disappointment, when one of my aunts dropped by and said, "Child what are you doing with bindweed in your yard. Get em out, they are a devil's plant for a farmer!"  I ran after her and asked, "What is wrong with my morning glories that you said that?"

She said, "They make roots and vines and they entangle the farm equipment and it seems that they more you try to dig them out, the more you spread the seeds. They can ruin spots on a farm, slow down harvest and are just a nuisience." 

This bothered me like an irritant, until years later, the farmer for a farm that I owned in West Texas called and said, "You better go out there and look; we've got bindweeds."  So I drove out to Vigo Park, Texas, and looked. We had a crop of milo there, and sure enough right in the middle was a patch of the most beautiful blue blooms. They had climbed up the milo stalks, in so doing twined and wrapped around the milo like a wizard's rope.  

I was entranced. "So beautiful," I mumbled.  The farmer spit on the ground in disgust. "Just like a city boy," and shook his head. 

"I can't run my equipment through this, it will choke it up and cost me hours to clean it out," said the farmer with a touch of anger in his voice.  

"What is the solution?"  I asked.

"The only thing that will kill it without killing the soil, is Round Up," he said  

"So, then go get some Round Up,"  I said. 

"I don't think you want to afford it. It costs $69 per gallon, and it will require over 100 gallons to clean up the entire place. Plus it is toxic and time consuming to work with and to apply.  But, you must do something, this bindweed is popping up everywhere."    

I quickly calculated: $69 per gallon x 100 =  $6,900, not to mention time and labor.  Just to kill some weeds.  Furthermore, it galled me to kill these pretty weeds. The "morning glories" so beautiful in the flower beds of my youth had become something destructive and costly on a commercial farm.

My perspective changed quickly when I thought of how expensive and destructive these beautiful little blooms could be, when growing in the wrong place.  

It seems to be a powerful analogy.  

Some things are beautiful in one setting, in one environment, and the same things can turn ugly with a different perspective.  

Our world is like that with a lot of people and circumstances these days.

Take for example a devout Wahhabi or Islamic Sunni from Saudi Arabia. He may pray five times a day facing the east, work hard to care for his family, feed the poor, help orphans and be good citizen. But, put him around a charismatic teacher or cleric with fundamentalist Wahhabi beliefs, and he might be radicalized. If convinced that he must kill, rape, burn, rob and generally terrorize others of different beliefs, such a man might even put on a bomb and kill young people and innocent children at a music event. Morning glory to bindweed.

Or take a worker in almost any nation, or of any religion. Say his wife leaves him, or he has a turn of bad luck, and his life seems to sour. Say he loses a job or is rejected by society or suffers bad fortune. A person like this might walk into a bar and indiscriminately kill people in the quiet hope that law enforcement officers will kill him, so he doesn't have to commit suicide. Tragically, another  morning glory to bindweed. 

Sometimes investments change from morning glories to bindweed:  As we communicate with people around the world, we often find that investments that seem like morning glories sometimes are subject to the "bindweed effect." We recently reviewed a property in a small city, almost 400 miles west of Dallas. The city had an economic development plan to take some vacant, arid land outside of the city and turn it into an industrial park. So with fanfare and optimism, the city platted the land into industrial lots, paved a couple of streets and put the word out that they had a new industrial park. Over a period of 10 years not a single industrial lot was purchased and developed. Why? First, small towns must have something to offer and a great marketing program to lure industry to move to their towns. Second, the great recession started about 2008, and for much of the preceding decade the economy has been a bit tenuous. In cases like this, where there is a failed dream or failed project, values can decline. A beautiful idea turned to dust.   Yet speaking to appraisers, sometimes a different use, purpose, or management can take over can create increased value from past failures. See the site:  APPRAISALS AND VALUATIONS, and there are photos and examples of successful projects. Sometimes having a property analysed with a different use can change value and appeal. In these cases we would say,  "Even bindweed can be eliminated for something better."  

Another morning glory to bindweed story, Trump and the Pope:

We are interested in President Donald Trump's meeting with the Pope. Trump spent 48 hours or more in Saudi Arabia to work and play with Muslim leaders, doing the sword dance, touching the glowing orb and telling the Saudi leaders that he would sell them American arms to fight their battles. He spent 48 hours or more  in Israel to work and play with Jewish leaders, telling them how bad Iran is, and Trump spent about 30 minutes in the Vatican of Italy speaking with the Pope, an important Christian leader. It seems that the Saudi Wahhabis and the Jewish right wing gave an impression that they adore Trump far more that the Christian Pope.  Normally a meeting with the Pope is a photo opportunity for a president. Every president wants to garner Catholic voters in the USA. But in this case, the flight to Italy and Trump's meeting with the Pope only lasted minutes.  

Some reports say that in the private meeting the Pope provided some powerful opinions about peace and the importance of Christians to avoid war. Then in a five-minute public appearance, the Pope showed and described works of art that symbolized peace to Donald Trump. A photo was taken there, and the Pope did not look happy, while President Trump smiled like a Cheshire cat. Trump afterward flew quickly to Brussels. That event could have been a beautiful morning glory event to inspire the world's three monotheistic religions in a common cause. But the reality was that Trump and the Pope have strong and differing world views and political opinions. The frown on the face of the Pope as he stood by Trump seemed to confirm that this photo op was a victim of the bindweed effect."