Sunday Brew — July 21, 2019

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Resorting to the gun after losing his job

I met a young man recently whose desperation to advance his life in a positive, progressive way, led him down the wrong path, to the point where he resorted to the use of the gun, illegally.

He had become a desperate member of an inner-city community and with three children to look after, and wanting to maintain a good relationship with his 'baby mamma', whom he described as 'massively sexy', he would resort to anything to get money – even committing murder.

He had a 'decent' job at one time, working in one of the high producing companies in the Corporate Area, until the firm cut staff and he became one of the casualties.

Try as he might, it was difficult for him, as his story goes, to fill the economic gap created by the loss of his job, so he resorted to unorthodox, even desperate measures.

'If a man come an gi me a three gran ($3,000) an say go kill that man fi me, I would do it. I was that desperate to look after myself and my yout dem,' the man said.

If you saw him, you would think that he would have a major task of taking out a cockroach. But the reality is that he got involved, he said, in some things that he wanted to stay away from, and at one time even preached to others not to do.

According to him, man haffi live; and pickney muss go school.

How many others like this young man are out there? This is not a situation in which money was not coming in, frequently at one point. But the loss of a comfortable economic solution forced a Jamaican to make a major adjustment in how he gets around.

He is even prepared to be killed by the security forces at any time, as according to him, as long as he does not get a 'good' job, he will continue to have the gun as his dear friend, conscious of the consequences.

Can we as a society do better to save someone like this? Or should we just wait until the police and soldiers decide which funeral home gets his body? In any case, there will be more springing up all over the place, but in particular the inner-city communities where there are limited job opportunities and no clear indicator in sight for the situation to change anytime soon.

Maybe they should all try to become household helpers. I hear that the pay is quite good … sometimes in the millions; the only hitch is that you can't turn up at any and any bank to change the cheques that are issued, unless you Reid the fine print carefully.

Sadly, Ruel Reid's credibility is gone

In a matter of days, perhaps weeks, the nation will know whether or not former Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid, will face criminal charges.

The story of his dismissal from the Cabinet by Prime Minister Andrew Holness is well documented, so there is no need to go over the scenarios again. But Reid is in big trouble. Even if criminal charges are not thrown in his lap, he will forever be stained by the stories that emerged under his stint as the Government's policy man in charge of a key sector in Jamaica.

Many of us thought that the matter would be a nine-day wonder. It has been anything but that. I have known Reid for several years and I am not one to pass judgment. I was not happy with how he dealt with one matter in particular – that of how he reacted to my enquiry in respect of a convicted Jamaican child molester who did time in the USA for 'playing around' with children, and ended up working at a school in western Jamaica as a teacher on contract.

But then, he has his style, I have mine. The rules in the current saga involving Reid were clearly broken. So were the rules in the Cuban light bulb saga, and guess what happened?

The big losers in this nasty episode are Reid's family members, and to an extent, his church. The Government, too, will take some flak, although I still maintain that the word 'corruption' is entrenched in the Jamaican Constitution, it's only that we do not see it in black and white.

Oh, what a fall from grace of a man who has served some of the major institutions in Jamaica, among them Munro College, Jamaica College and the Jamaica Teachers Association.

One of the irritating revelations of the probe involving Ruel Reid was the link between the fallen education minister and the President of the Caribbean Maritime University, Dr Fritz Pinnock. As far as I know, Dr Pinnock is a decent man who must be commended for taking the CMU from a rags to, well let's say, riches state for now. He has opted to go on leave to facilitate an investigation and I hope that the truth will emerge at the end of it.

Brian Wynter should hurry up and leave

The outgoing Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Brian Wynter continues to live in a fantasy land.

In his final (thank God) luncheon meeting with journalists last week, he, in answer to a question regarding some of his achievements, Wynter listed, off all things, the stability of the Jamaica dollar. Come on man! Was he eating, or just drinking, and if he was not eating, what could he have been drinking to have come up with something as absurd as that.

Jamaica is doing reasonably well in keeping inflation in check. I believe annualised inflation for fiscal year 2018-2019 was around 4.2 per cent, which is decent. But where is the dollar? Oh my goodness, up to last Friday it was hopping, skipping and jumping over to 138th street – the steepest climb in its illustrious history.

How much higher will it go?

My wish is that Mr Wynter's currency will rest in peace; and the man who succeeds him, Richard Byles will bring tough management to the Central Bank which will allow the institution to defend the dollar with all its might from the greedy mercenaries, who are, among other things, hoarding the currency while speculating on things to come.

Sometimes I wonder if Mr Wynter goes to the supermarket or wholesale and find that consumer items go up each week because of the sliding Jamaica dollar, the merchants will tell you.

There is no way that we should be paying (a record) J$138.10 for one US dollar.

West Indies must learn from England's display

Say what you want about England, but the cricket that they played during the recent Cricket World Cup in England and Wales outshone the others by far.

When I predicted that England would win the World Cup because of their depth and capacity, some scoffed at the view, citing a lack of pedigree, among other things.

But they were destined to win. And if anyone wants to say that England were lucky, then they can maintain that. England's cricket was scientific. At times during the tournament when things seemed dismal for them, they rose like a phoenix and showed how great they were.

The West Indies administrators must have taken notes over the period of the premier one-day tournament. They must realise by now that cricket, like most other sports, require a structured approach to winning matches. England showed that most. They calculated well and exposed the backward thinking of some other teams by being precise when the situation warranted that kind of intervention.

Sound planning and the ability to choose the right players are key to the West Indies getting back on top with the world's best. Let's see what happens.


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