Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Daniel Thwaites | Let them eat cake

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Governmental issues can get complicated. That's a fact. Plus, very few people actually take the time out to understand the Budget and spending priorities of an administration.

The inherent weakness in relying on the media is that often journalists are themselves compromised, bought out, or subject to the formidable public-relations machinery that slick politicians can hire and use to regulate information.

But then sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, comes the perfect little story, or dynamite little metaphor, that just lands on the public mind and the carefully crafted fog of official information management suffers from a blast of unmistakeable sunlight. That's when people look and are shocked - shocked! - at what they discover.

Big money poppin' anyweh

Wakanda go ...

Banga dem de ya,

Dawg, scammer dem de ya

Me a tell yuh seh de shella dem de ya

Plus couple front-seller gyal de ya"

How else to understand this US$1,000 for flour, sugar, and water?

I'm not going to sit here and act as if I didn't know US$1,000 cakes exist. Of course they do, and I've even been to a party or two in farrin where the fancy schmancy people have them wheeled out.

Typically, however, the 'cake' is more than just a cake - something delicious is supposed to burst out of that kind of baking. Maybe something in a designer bikini? Maybe something wearing something we haven't even thought about? Yeah, it's that kinda party. That's when the honeys pop out and everyone is shocked - shocked!

The weird thing is that it hasn't been reported that anything so exciting even happened with the Petroscam-Wheatley cake, but who knows? Maybe the reporters left out the good part?

Something else special had to be going on. My extensive forensic research has revealed that you can get a perfectly tasty cake for J$6,000 at any number of locations across the country.

 

Big! Money! Poppin'!

 

But let's say you don't want to roll like one of 'the little people'. So then maybe you might spend even 10 grand to roll like a superstar. Big money poppin', anyweh mi goh!

Obviously that wasn't enough. Wakanda was always about making a statement and asserting the status of royalty. So here we have it. Why buy a perfectly good six-grand cake when one for 125 grand will do? Or why drive to Parliament in a regular auto when you can pull up in a fat green Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe? Big! Money! Poppin'!

By the way, the photos from that justly infamous Wakanda-themed party out there in Montego Bay are worth every penny of the oil money so far as I'm concerned. In fact, I would say they're priceless. I'm all about happiness, y'know, and the happy look on all the governmental faces in the archives of Wakanda. Errrmagawwwd! Awesomesauce.

At the same time, it hasn't escaped notice that the young men penned up in the state of emergency are being fed bread and hot water at the staggering cost to taxpayers of J$300 per day. What do the rulers have to say about that? Wait, wait!!! Don't tell me. Please ... lemme guess: "Dem lucky!!! Mek dem nyam de bread. Aftah all!"

That tasty little treat Marie Antoinette is credited with saying "let them eat cake" when told about the hungry masses in Paris. But actually, if by some miracle she was available for interview, she would be shocked - shocked! - to find that the quote was attributed to her. The fact is that she probably didn't say it, and in any event, the thing that was said is: "Let them eat brioche!" Brioche isn't cake. It's a sort of sweet bread.

I don't mean to connect the bread in the lockups to the expensive cake, too, obviously, but it did spring to mind when I read of how former Energy Minister Wheatley was shocked - shocked! - to find out that his surprise birthday party had been a cost to taxpayers funded by Petroscam.

 

Mom Tormented

 

The part that did grab me in the feels, though - I'm not joking here - was Dr Wheatley's description of his mother's torment at what he has been going through.

So a note on this debate about whether we should keep an indefinitely long state of public emergency going. First, realise that a society can rid itself of probably 90 per cent of it's violent crime if it simply locks up all males between 15 and 35 years old. But, to put it mildly, there are countervailing compelling reasons why that's not a great approach to pursue. However, that's apparently the choice of Jamaica's leadership.

A year of extraordinary police powers should have been more than enough to craft and present a crime plan not prefaced on random unreviewable indefinite detention of the nation's youth.

By the way, Devon Dick made a tremendous observation that the "five-in-five" must henceforth refer to $5 billion of losses in 5 years at Petroscam. Think of how many cakes $5 billion could have bought! And I'm not talking about bulla cakes or cake soap. I'm talking good good Wakanda cakes.

More to the point: how many more policemen could have been hired to saturate troubled areas? That, after all, is what is really working to lower the crime figures.

Maybe I can help some of those bawling to retain the states of emergency along in their reasoning. Think of Jamaica's tradition of civil liberties as a delicious cake, where if you take out an important ingredient, it just wouldn't be the same.

One really important ingredient is that the security forces just can't lock up people randomly forever and without review. This is a very precious and tasty cake, even without honeys jumping out of it, and even if big money ain't poppin'.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com