Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Daniel Thwaites | Ruel Reid needs a wheelbarrow

Published:Sunday | July 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM

My plan was to talk about the great news coming out on the economy recently. The idea gestated when I read a tweet by economics professor Damien King (@DamienWKing) that said:

“The unemployment rate has now fallen further to 7.8 %. 29,000 more persons are now employed than was the case a year ago (to April). The IMF-monitored GOJ economic reforms of the last 6 yrs have worked. The naysayers are going to have to do limbo to avoid this conclusion.”

After our national history of wayward experimentation with the economy, we have to pause frequently and underline, underscore, emphasise, and accentuate that we’re finally on to something that’s working. Furthermore, it is a bipartisan success story, so no side needs to reverse it and screw everything up.

But sadly, crime and corruption headlines have sucked up a lot of the oxygen, and in fact, the important inflation targets that the BOJ has taken to advertising may be in jeopardy because of some of these.

From Petrojam burst on to the scene, it was clear that the cost of having a matey was going to be seriously inflated. The employment packages down there were just so plush and ample that every matey couldn’t help but compare their situation to those that were in the headlines.

Matey inflation could pose some serious risks to the economic targets and the basic stability of the Jamaican home. Let’s face it, mateys do highly skilled work that isn’t easily replaced or replicable. In some cases, they are even a monopoly provider of essential services.


Petrojam was serious. Don’t forget there was severe cake-inflation once it was revealed that the Wakandaists had blown US$1,000 for some flour and sugar. And there was inflationary pressure on the cost of partying after the Wakanda parties as well.

Add it all together and I pity the ordinary Jamaican man who simply wanted to take out his matey for her birthday, party a little bit, and buy her a cake! Such a man has few options but to turn to a life of crime, or become a politician.

Then comes these accusations and revelations surrounding Ruel Reid that helper-work and driver-work are being seriously inflated as well.

Earlier this month, it had emerged in a Gleaner story that Ruel’s helper had received $4 million as part of a consultancy to Caribbean Maritime University:

“Doreen Miller, whose identity was revealed in a meeting of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee last month, told The Sunday Gleaner in an exclusive interview that she was ‘coldly used’ by Reid’s family, and that she has been on the brink of a ‘heart attack’ because of corruption claims about which she allegedly knows nothing.”

Naturally, there’s a lot to say about this situation, but one thing that jumps out at me is that everyone will soon be in trouble with their helper if they don’t upgrade them into ‘a consultant’. Through political correctness, helpers had already been inflated into ‘home technicians’, but this is the next-level upgrade. And I suspect it’s going to cost.

This week’s news was that Ruel’s driver was upgraded as well:

“The Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) has admitted to making payments totaling more than $700,000 over a four-month period on invoices in the name of Devon McQueen, the former driver to sacked Education Minister Ruel Reid.”

Well, as the unofficial union representative to every driver in Jamaica, I hereby advise them to lodge their demands with their employers for an upgraded title and increased benefits.

So now you’re thinking that all this inflationary pressure is surely going to have a widespread economic impact. It turns out that there’s inflation in the ex-politician and ex-principal sectors of the economy as well. We all saw The Gleaner headline, ‘Fired education minister seeks return to $2m incentive arrangement with JC’.

You see, the whole country has all along been underestimating Ruel. Ruel needs a wheelbarrow. I’m not talking about a wheelbarrow for the work programme I hope they still have out at Tamarind Farm, because after reading the DPP’s uninformative word salad I don’t expect he will be held accountable for anything more than a few administrative breaches.

The wheelbarrow is for a different, perhaps more prosaic, purpose. I’m talking about the size of Ruel’s balls. A bredda with brovaries that enormous is going to have to transport them in front of him with a carriage of some sort, and only a sizeable wheelbarrow with a truck tyre up front could fit the bill.

Let me head off any outrage because of any image involving cojones, gonads, ballocks, chesticles and respecticles. Colloquially, when people talk of someone “having balls”, they’re not discussing the boys in the basement, so the Reid family jewels aren’t a subject of this column.

It means that “dis man or woman is brave, courageous, and full of guts”. It’s not always meant in a positive way, because someone may ‘have balls’ to the point of absurdity. In other words, there’s a slight, but massively important difference between ‘having nutz’, and ‘being nutz’. In that sense, a woman can have big balls, and like Caster Semenya, there are more and more of them who actually do.

So back to this situation with Jamaica College and Ruel. I’ve struggled to understand it and have concluded I would need a PhD in labour relations to do so. Right now, I’m just the unofficial union rep for drivers, so that won’t work. But even from that lowly status I can’t imagine it being better said than by an anonymous JC old boy quoted in The Gleaner:

“I read in your paper just this morning (Tuesday) that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) general secretary, Dr Horace Chang, said that Reid can’t run on the party’s ticket in a general election. If he is not good enough for Jamaica politics, why should he continue serving as principal of Jamaica College?”

I love the unstated theory behind that question. If a man can’t even manage to be a Jamaican politician, how dare he think he could be the principal of the renowned JC? The answer: because that man needs a wheelbarrow.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to