Difficult Conversations – Mortgage and Volcanic Ash

The ashfall continues in Barbados from the volcanic eruptions in St Vincent. Therefore, half of this article will conclude my mortgage series, and the other half will include my best advice on the volcanic ash.

If you are being advised to get a 25 to 30-year home-mortgage at this time, then in my opinion, you are being very badly advised.
Many of our parents who paid off their mortgages, got them when land was selling at around $1 to $2 per sq-ft. Now, it is more than 10 times that amount. Construction costs were around $75/sq ft. Now it is about 3 to 4 times that amount.
Middle-income salaries were around $500 per month. Those salaries likely grew ten-fold over their careers. So, they saw the mortgage component of their salaries getting significantly smaller, and much easier to pay during the life of the loan.

Before 1996, mortgages tended to be for only a part of the building costs. Persons normally had to find between 25% to 50% of what they wanted to borrow. This meant that they did not know the uncertainty of a 25 to 30-year debt repayment.
Times have changed. Land prices and construction costs are already very high, and are expected to continue to increase. However, mid-income levels are not expected to increase 10-fold like with your parents. You may be fortunate if they double during your career. It is as if you entered at the losing end of a Ponzi scheme.

Paying a 30-year mortgage for this new generation of working Barbadians, is going to be a very difficult burden for them to bear. Mortgages worked for our parents, because land was cheap, and wages were growing rapidly. This is a different time, and it demands a different house-financing model.
My best advice is for a couple to build a strong and durable starter house in 6 years, as I have described in two previous articles. Now to the volcanic ash fallout in Barbados.

The Soufrière Hills volcano erupted in Montserrat in 1995. It resulted in the destruction of the capital city of Plymouth, and the southern half of the island becoming uninhabitable. I was working on several projects in Plymouth before the eruption, and continued working in Montserrat after the event.
Many house roofs risk collapsing under 4 inches of ash. This can build up if the roof slope is gentle. For that reason, I have been advocating a roof slope of 30 degrees, after inspecting the damage from the volcanic eruption in Montserrat.

An approximate 30-degree roof slope reduces the risk of volcanic ash building up. It also attracts some of the lowest wind pressures during a hurricane. If roof gutter slopes were laid at about 2%, then they may be self cleaning.
Trying to clean roof gutters and roof sheets of a 2-storey house, on a ladder with wet ash, is an extremely dangerous practise. It should only be attempted by those in a hurry to see Jesus. That is why houses should be designed and built to be low maintenance.
If your house has less than a 30-degree roof slope, but was designed to survive a category 3 hurricane, then it may support 4 inches of ash. However, there are too many variables, like the quality of the connections, the condition of the timber, and the length of the span, to be certain. Therefore, let me suggest the following.

If you have safe access to your roof, then attach a high-pressure telescoping wand to your hose, and remove the ash. If you do not have safe access to your roof, then attach the high-pressure wand to a long telescoping roller pole, and remove the ash.

If one section of your roof has a gentle slope (like a car port lean-to), and it is safely accessible, then you may consider cleaning the roof, and then installing a tarpaulin or a heavy-duty plastic sheet. Whenever the ash builds up, simply remove the tarpaulin, wash off the ash, and reinstall.
Do not stand on your roof, otherwise, the combined weight of the ash and you may cause it to collapse. If some stubborn person decides to walk on your roof to clean it, then get out of the house. If the roof collapses, then occupants are likely to be injured by the falling roof, and choked by the accumulated ash.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Volcano is Going Off!

Submitted by Nathan’ Jolly’ Green

The volcano is going off! what volcano is going off? They are all going off!

The volcano is going off, what volcano is going off? They are all going off. What do you mean they are all going off? When that last happened in 1816, it created the Year Without Summer and almost brought the end to all humanity.

Vincentians know what is happening in their back yard, and often in their neighbours. But currently, Saint Vincent is in such turmoil with people running frightened from the COVID 19 virus; few look over the neighbours’ fence anymore in fear of catching the COVID. Vincentians know that La Soufrière is erupting, but all the others in the world who cares.

Around the world currently, most of the volcanos are in some state of eruption. They are all smoking, rumbling, or fully erupting. We lack the final piece in the 1816 year without summer equation, Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupting explosively.

In April of 1815, Mount Tambora exploded in a powerful eruption that killed tens of thousands of people on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. The following Year 1816 became known as the “year without a summer” when icy, wet conditions swept across Europe and North America in August.

The Year 1816 is known as the Year Without a Summer (also the Poverty Year and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death) because of severe climate abnormalities that caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1 °F). Summer temperatures in Europe were the coldest on record between the years of 1766–2000. This resulted in significant food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.

Evidence suggests that the anomaly was predominantly a volcanic winter event caused by the massive 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in April in the Dutch East Indies (known today as Indonesia). This eruption was the largest in at least 1,300 years (after the hypothesized eruption causing the extreme weather events of 535–536), and perhaps exacerbated by the 1814 eruption of Mayon in the Philippines.

With most of the Worlds volcanos making activity from 1800 causing cumulative upper atmosphere contamination, that in 1815/1816 the upper atmosphere was densely contaminated with ash and debris which blocked out the sun. Everything needs the sun to grow, needs the sun to live. But 1816 saw a year of little sun and a year-long winter. In August in New York, Frost and snow and freezing fogs, people starved around the world as crops failed, no wheat, and bread riots in Switzerland. People in the East Coast US marched across the country having heard it was a little warmer on the West Coast. Domestic farm animals were dying no food, no grains, no vegetables. Wild animals and birds stopped breeding, stopped replacing those that were dying by the millions. Had the intense volcanic activity continued for another two or three years and continued to exclude the sun. It would have most certainly been the end of humanity.

But back to the matter in hand, you can stop looking over the neighbour’s fence. Let us look again at the current evolving eruption of Saint Vincent’s Mount Soufrière. What is the worst that can happen?

Massive eruptions bring massive lightning storms, a deposit of ash that blocks rivers and closes off roads. Bridges fail due to the rivers’ blockage. The rivers in Saint Vincent are traditionally poorly maintained almost always containing lots of dead trees and debris, mix that with volcanic ash, and pop goes the bridges. Landslides block roads; roads collapse; people are stranded, no escape. Do we have to wait for all that before we attempt to evacuate our people from a situation that would prove impossible and the people may perish?

So why not rescue the people in case a tragedy unwraps, how about evacuation just in case? How about evacuation as a precaution? How about evacuation right now?

One of the most significant strains on the Vincentians’ minds living in the red and yellow zone is not knowing if or when not knowing the evacuation plan. Not knowing the meeting points, what they should bring and how to get there. No trial run of evacuation, no test run, no information, can you imagine how that plays on these people’s minds.

For the government to wait until something happens before they move into action, really may be just too late. Tell the people the whole plan, tell them now, they are not children, tell them, comrade. Give every one of them written instructions.

See also https://annsvg.com/index.php/2021/01/27/indonesian-volcano-unleashes-river-of-lava-in-new-eruption/

Sinful Leaders, Sinful Followers

Submitted by Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green

Alert raised as SVG’s volcano oozes magma, watch out 2021.

Like Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, has the leadership of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines brought the wrath of God upon the heads of those who support such leadership?

Jeremiah 23:1-4

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

1 Timothy 3:1-5

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his household, how will he care for God’s church?

I honestly believe that we in Saint Vincent have all been on the receiving end of bad leadership, those that support such leadership can learn about the wrath of the Lord.

It is essential to understand the underlying forces at work in evil leaders.

Much has been written to tell us about the “top traits of a bad leadership” or “how to deal with an evil leader.” I will now impart some information here that should not be ignored, and the ideas presented in them help us understand the “bad leader.” But let us not also forget the failing junior and middle-level leaders and parliamentary ministers in SVG. Those that support evil leadership, knowingly join forces with a corrupt regime and are responsible for those evil deeds, as if they did them themselves.

Senior leaders who bring evil to leadership, bring a significant dimension of trouble to a government. While this may be obvious on the statement’s surface, what leads to it may not seem so clear.

Three crucial factors are at play with understanding the success or failure of political leadership: 1) A leaders Character, 2) His leadership Style, and 3) their Followers. And often, when an evil leader is elected, you can entirely blame the followers. But the actions of that leader are those of his choosing, often cheered on by the same followers who elected him.

Senior Leader Character: Many senior leaders become even eviler, ultra-evil. They also rely on their own political and often even judicial skills to do everything and are generally blind to their real inadequacies and drive. Frequently, they see their position in terms of privilege and power (although they do not admit it) and will ignore others’ advice. They are practically unsuitable for leadership and are unwilling to be held accountable for their evil and sometimes malicious conduct.

Leadership Style: Evil senior leaders also fail to have the proper vision or vision for their organization. Vision must be methodically established and pursued on behalf of the political party, not as a response to competitors, organization problems, or personal factors. The strategic vision also helps to determine leadership style because it must be pursued vigorously. Those senior leaders who pursue a vision for the wrong reasons (e.g., personal gain, gain of their families, and dynasties) will be more inclined to value employee obedience over creativity. These evil leaders never allow people with more intelligence and drive than themselves anywhere near the leadership position. They are often choosing to serve under them what may be viewed as political dunces as an act of self-protectionism.

Their Followers: Evil leadership involves the interplay between the leader’s skills, the needs of the organization, and the demands of the government. Party-hacks/followers will act according to these factors by accepting or rejecting a leader and following the senior leader wilfully or mechanically, disregarding and cheering on every evil act. Some Vincentian people always choose nasty over nice, evil over good, look for leadership and guidance on how to achieve evil, and when their leader fails to continue his evil patterns and style, only then will they react to reject the leader. Crime rates, rape, robberies, burglaries, all soar under evil leadership.

Here are just a few examples of bad leaders:

Lack of direction (improper or no vision) except for their benefit

Lack of energy and enthusiasm (no passion) in anything that does not directly benefit themselves

Have poor judgement (poor decision-making processes) make silly statements like I am here to complete the work of Maurice Bishop, if I work Obeah I only work Obeah for the Lord, show me a liar, and I will show you a thief, I sometimes tell lies

Do not collaborate (sees no need to enlist the assistance of others) absolute refusal to recognize the good offices of the opposition political party even when they come with excellent proposals

Resist new ideas (obedience is valued over creativity and hard work) unless they are their ideas or those of their family or dynasty member

Lack of interpersonal skills (also unwilling to improve social skills) unable to accept anything or anybody who may be a political threat to them

Do not develop others (interested in themselves, not others) underdevelopment of others means they are kept down and not a threat

Use others to carry out evil, malicious, and spiteful deeds against those in society who may become a political threat to them

God is the great lawgiver; man is a lawless sinner. If God had not ordained government to order mankind, we would be a murderous lot of barbarians, and so he commands us to obey our laws and refers to every governor as his “minister … for good” (v4). If we obey our leaders, we will have a good reputation and a civilized society. Now verse 3 reveals the intended nature of our governmental heads, saying “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.” You see, Iran’s leader, Venezuela’s leadership, president, and chairman of North Korea, are to be to their people agents of lawfulness and good thriving. They are meant to be peacekeepers and maintainers of order. If, however, the leader is an enemy of the good, a terror to his people, and does evil before God, he will be judged, and the wrath of both heaven and Earth will be upon him.

All leaders are known by God and are either permitted or placed explicitly by him. Sometimes a section of the people clamours for an evil leader, and God gives them what they obviously deserve. But God can put whomever he wills in the seat of authority, so any way one looks at this, “There is no power but of God.” Which raises the question, what happens when a Hitler makes it to the top, or a modern example like Kim Jung-un, Maduro, and the Castro’s, what to do about them? It could be argued that the cultures behind such despots facilitated their rise to power, and from lack of resolve or concern for their fellow man, brought the awful results upon themselves. When considering how Hitler came to power, then persecuted Jews to death, and then began invading other countries to spread his poison and overtake the world, it is no wonder much of the world allied to destroy his regime. Today, the Korean dictator leads an officially atheistic government that persecutes religious minorities (especially Christians) to death, massacres entire clans of perceived dissenters and threatens those outside his borders with nuclear missiles. If his threats become perceived as legitimate, war will be fully justified to end his reign of narcissistic terror.

Finally, keep in mind the strong verse of balance regarding government’s authority: “If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God” (Act 5:29 VOI).

Wrath may well be vented on the Vincentian people if la Soufriere volcano erupts. The stupidity of building a major medical facility close to it and the Argyle airport close to it will be obvious. Despite many warning about the volcano erupting, our leadership ignored the calls of common sense because they ran contrary to the leadership’s political views and dominance. The building of both those projects was political, not social, or commercial. Three-year projects each took nine years, overrun without penalty on the Cubans, a procedure designed to keep the Unity Labour Party in power.

When Soufriere erupted in 1979 volcanic rocks, microwave oven sizes crashed through the roofs of people’s houses in Georgetown. Today, those homes are next to the new Cuban built medical facilities there, the Vincentian ULP leadership knew this but for the sake of Cuban collaboration and solidarity continued and allowed the Cubans to develop our leading medical diagnostic and treatment centre right in the heart of imminent volcanic hail and gas inundation.

When you do something amorally, you do it in an ethically indifferent way, without stopping to contemplate whether it is good or bad. As with the word immorally, that can mean that what you are doing is wicked; it means that you are not concerned about your actions’ moral consequences. When you pay millions of taxpayer’s moneys to have boreholes drilled in the search for super-heated rock, where a new power plant will be successfully built. When you do that in an area for political reasons instead of commercial reasons, knowing there is somewhere better to drill is not amoral; it is most certainly immoral.

When people are driven out of their business because they do not support the political party in power, Bigger Bigs and many many other springs to mind, that is not amoral; it is immoral. When peoples land and property is taken from them by the government under the pretext of social good, that is immoral. Everyone who supports an evil leadership, knowing what that leadership is doing is immoral are themselves sinful beings.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, you can see the results in what has happened, and is happening to North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and so many other countries, now perhaps even Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Europe Airspace Closed, Implication For The Caribbean

In the middle of a recession going on six consecutive quarters of GDP decline. The value of spend in our number one foreign exchange earner tourism down. Now we have this volcano in Iceland which has forced planes in the lucrative European market to be grounded. Yet the new Governor of the Central Bank was reported yesterday in the news as confirming Barbados needs to diversify our tourist product.

God help us!