Brad OH Inc. Featured on ‘GonzoToday’

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday on Brad OH Inc., we have a special item for all our dear readers. Rather than a new weekly post, we’re happy to share this article we’ve published through our good friends at GonzoToday.

Writing about the Insane Clown Posse and their ongoing legal battle against the FBI is nothing new for us, but when we were offered a chance to write something for a site like GonzoToday, we were happy to take the opportunity. Needless to say, this is a GonzoToday exclusive, and cannot be posted here (see publishers…we’re open to negotiations!), so follow the link below and check out our new article, ‘The Clown in Chief and the Juggalo Army’.

Click Here for Article.

-Brad OH Inc.

Greed and the Village

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampSometimes, I like to think about society as a simple tribal village. It strips the world of its artifice, and takes us back to human-kind at it’s most basic. Raw and primitive. Simple.

And that’s exactly what many issues are from this perspective: Simple.

Without the nuance of modern day polarities, we can see things a bit more clearly. The significant moral leaps people manage to self-justify may be laid bare by a more straight-forward allegorical perspective.

For instance, we can easily agree that freedom is a virtue to be celebrated—but, not total freedom. Let’s explore that with an example. Imagine you are lying asleep on your dirt floor, above you nothing but the countless stars of the prehistoric night sky. You’re covered with a torn animal hide, and lay near enough the dying embers of the night’s fire to provide sufficient protection from the chill of night. In this scenario, you would certainly not want your neighbour to have the freedom to creep up as you slept and take a rock to your head just to obtain that crappy lion skin you call a bed.

Would you?

Most of us don’t need a cave man metaphor to get behind the basic idea of laws, no doubt. Shame on you that did.

But not everything is quite that clear, and the complexities of modern society make it far more difficult to discern the moral imperatives beneath the daily milieu. How do we suss out the decent path in something as complex as corporate economics, or systemic injustice?

Well, let’s imagine that for a moment. Take that same sleepy village of knuckle-dragging cave-people. Say that, as you sleep, one of the villagers has the initiative to wake up early, and gather up all the useful plants anywhere near your hut. Then he breaks your legs so you can’t gather the far away plants. Finally, he generously offers to sell you some of his extra plants in exchange for your wife and children.

You see, at some point, a free market which is free to extort and dominate no longer looks very much like freedom at all when you really boil things down.

Taking this analogy a bit further, we might ask: Just what do we want for our fellow savage villagers? Well, at first glance they don’t seem like an overly pleasant lot. They’re brutish and violent, and certainly don’t seem very smart.

I suppose that education would be a good place to start then.

Ensuring health and security is likely to make them less desperate and prone to violence of course, and some laws to protect from exploitation or economic coercion certainly seem sound.

But we don’t live in a village anymore, we live on a planet. And it would seem, somehow, that there is a disappointing lack of people who truly want any of those things for their neighbour. So then, what does this portend for our coming sleep beneath those countless stars?

The lion skin frays. The embers sputter and smoke.

…The night grows dark.

-Brad OH Inc.

Right, Left, and Everything in Between: What Will Become of America?

purelyspeculationThree days after the 2016 General Election in America, a pall of dread hangs over not just the nation, but the world. There is doubt, confusion, and no small amount of fear. The very thing which everyone said simply could not happen has now come to pass—Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.

Not only fear, this also creates a lot of questions. How did this happen? Why did we doubt it could? What does this say about the American people? What does the future hold for the ‘Land of the Free’?

Coming to power astride a wave of grandiose lies and dangerous bombast, Trump has openly called for violence, insulted multiple races, defiled men, and debased women on his path to the most powerful office in the world. The ludicrous ideas he has espoused pale in their absurdity only in comparison to the ignorant and ever-shifting ideologies he has endorsed.

Now there are riots in the streets, which are unlikely to end any time soon. To be honest, I expect this would have been little different had Hillary Clinton won.

The madness and peculiarity of this shocking election cycle did not happen by random chance. It was a clear reflection of the state of the American political structure, and more importantly, the American people.

This race has seen the utter devastation of both traditional parties—party lines are in shambles and voters are in doubt. Amidst all of this, we must remember one very important fact.

Donald Trump was elected President.

One of the questions going through many minds is, how did this happen?

Well, words are always important, and the key word to the above phrase is ‘elected’. He won enough votes to take control of the Electoral College—quite handily at that. The fairness or effectiveness of the Electoral College is not the current purpose of this article mind you, and the fact simply remains that by the rules of the democracy, Trump had the voters he needed to win.

Who are these people?

Some of them—and possibly no small number—are just those who vote red no matter what. Both parties have always had plenty of those.

Others were likely the empowered bigots that inevitably sprout up under a vile demagogue like Trump, but I believe (and certainly pray) this number is far from being as high as many people believe.

A large portion of Trump voters, I expect, were simply just so reactionary and angry with the crooked system that they were willing to gamble. They were tired of false promises. They were tired of all the money going upward. They were tired of politicians being bought and paid for. They were tired of having no voice, and were long overdue to strike back at a political establishment which for far too long has functioned only for the moneyed interests which it serves.

As a Bernie guy, I get that.

The fact that enough people were willing to vote Trump rather than continue with the status quo is a damning condemnation on the current state of party politics. Yet, the oldest mistake in the history of democracy is to reject a failed system without due caution, and conjure into reality something even more fierce and immediate.

This election—all the way back to the primaries—was an aggressive rejection of crooked politics, corporate interference, economic mismanagement, and elitism. Yet the failure of the electorate to unite on the true issues, and the constant projection of aggression and fear onto one another has finally, in the end, led to the election of the Anti-Cause. Trump is the living embodiment of all the miserable vices which usurped the democratic process and threatened liberty to begin with.

There’s too much fear and anger. Any nerd can tell you what those lead to.

So here we are, and the question remains—what can we expect now?

One of the most common fears is the effect Trump’s antics will have on the populace, that he will inspire bigotry with confidence when it should rightly hide in shadows. Already, we’re seeing examples of this being reported, and there is sure to be more in the weeks to come.

But we must not yet take this to be the majority of his voters, or the true tone of the American people. If we listen to interviews, such hate is not the motivating factor for a great many—and we would do well not to ignore the expressed desires and intentions of the people. That, after all, is precisely what’s carried us to this precipice.

Nor indeed must any decent person trade hate for hate—to act violently or even unkindly towards these frustrated voters is to fall into the very pit of anger and hatred which most would claim to despise.

In this ailing democracy of ours, we can only hope for the best at this point. We must support what works, and vigorously fight what doesn’t. But above all and without fail, we must continue the fight against an entrenched establishment that has turned its back on the people it was created to represent in favour of its own interests. This may only happen if we step out of the cycle of blame and distrust. Talk to people on the other side of the spectrum—learn about their fears and their hopes. Share your own. Speak up against intolerance, but never slip into it yourself. Never forget how easy this is to do. Talk, share, and be honest. Set a model of decency in the truest sense—that is how you improve the world.

Finally, while so justified, while so understandable and well-earned, we must remember the very forces that brought us to this point. Avoid despair, avoid rage. Most importantly, fear not…

-Brad OH Inc.

The Interrelated Failings of the Free Market and Free Speech

purelyspeculation‘Freedom’.

It has been the go-to battle-cry for every side in most any debate. It’s a trump card to call upon when logic fails—a tacit threat laid down gauntlet-like in order to challenge the values of an opponent when one cannot intelligently defend their own.

Right-wingers, left-wingers, libertarians, economists, racists and fanatics—all will appeal to the defense of their freedom when all else fails.

Fools, one and all.

We explored the topic of freedom recently in our article ‘Libertarians are Starry-Eyed Idealists’ (Link). At that time, we talked about the definition of freedom, and the counter-productive and false narrative of ‘unlimited freedom’. Today, we will explore our assumptions about the realities of freedom in two of the places it is most ubiquitously championed: the market, and the media.

‘The Free Market’. You can just feel your heart swell at the very mention of it. It’s like a unicorn in that way. That way—and that it’s entirely imaginary. The model of a free market describes a situation in which all can compete to buy and sell goods at the best possible prices. Products compete against each other as well—with the greatest value winning out in the hearts of consumers. It allows for flourishing competition, and inspires the best from all who participate.

It’s a wonderful dream, but little more at this point. The markets we have now are not free in any defensible sense—they are controlled by enormous corporations who funnel money upwards to their owners at the expense of affordability, quality, and consumer safety.

They are far too big to ‘compete’ against any tiny upstart with a head full of decency and common sense. They buy and sell market rights, strangle out competition, and throw down patents as defensive bolsters against growth and ease of access. There is no freedom or competition—only the surreptitious motives of greed and dominance. Prices for medications are needlessly inflated, housing markets are intentionally crashed, banks prey on the ill-informed, and corporations use their power to change laws in their favour and dodge enough taxes to wildly improve the state of the nation for all. The rich get richer, the poor stay in servitude.

So much for a free market then.

So how about the media? Surely this bastion of free knowledge, this fountain of informed citizenry has some tangible claim to freedom?

Sadly, not so.

As discussed in Sheldon Wolin’s (Link) impeccable book ‘Democracy Incorporated’, the media has followed a similar trend to the market.

In the past, ideas functioned much as they did in a truly ‘free’ marketplace. Many ideas were circulated, and the ‘best’ (as defined by open and informed discussion) became the most ubiquitous and popular. But in a world where media messages are controlled by the same mega-corporations which control our markets, the corporations are the ‘sellers’ of ideas, and we the consumers can only choose from the prescribed ideas they are willing to sell us—just like the current marketplace.

We see it everywhere—from the crooked nature of the 2 party political system, to the subversion of dissent via thousands of media companies being owned by only 6 corporations (Source). It is the death knell of free-thought. Ideas and options—from what laundry soap to buy to who to vote for in a general election—all fall within the pre-defined scope chosen by the corporations which have seized control of our marketplaces, our media, and our political system.

These multi-national corporations are the sole, uniquely ‘free’ participants in our society, and use this to put constraints on every system they see fit. Each of these effects the other—we are less informed (thus less able to vote), and more desperate (thus more eager to spend).

It all falls together quite nicely—it’s an effective market, even if it’s a far cry from free.

In book two of ‘The Analects’ (Link), Confucius speaks about rightful duty in governing people—stating that only a government which promotes and models good conduct and duty can ever expect to have loyal citizens. Surely, our current government can boast of having none of these.

We are left to fend for ourselves against powerful parties that would see us starve if it served to increase their bankrolls. Governments and corporations have merged—and the leadership of the people is no longer administered by informed citizens with nobles intentions, but rather by the whim of the rich and powerful—motivated only to increase those traits at all costs.

This must be remedied.

Freedom can only come when the people of the world take back the power which has been denied to them. To put in place good and honest leaders who seek the betterment of society as a whole is the only means of fighting back. We need not greed, but charity. Not a hunger for power, but a love of peace. Not clever deals, but honest intentions.

Then, and only then, can we hope to call ourselves free.

-Brad OH Inc.

One Tin Soldier

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI’ve never had any real talent when it comes to music, which might cause one to think that music class in elementary school was a squandered opportunity for this particular writer. Not so.

I always appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the creation of music—and had the opportunity to experience a great deal of fresh sounds and bands, which fed more naturally into my deeper passion for story-telling and metaphor.

I recall one moment in particular, likely around grade 2, which stood out to me as an exciting introduction to the incredible narrative potential of music. My small class had filed into the music room, and sat in a semi-circle upon the cold, carpeted floor. There, we waited in silence as our teacher played us an old song, ‘One Tin Soldier’, by ‘The Original Caste’ (Link).

The song tells the story of two different kingdoms—one on a mountain, and one in the valley below. The people of the valley have heard legends about the glorious treasure kept by the mountain people, and demand the mountain kingdom surrender their riches immediately. The mountain folk welcome the valley people, and offer to share all they have. Needless to say, this proves insufficient for the violent valley tribe—who slaughter the mountain people and take the prize all for themselves.

When the battle has ended and the mountain people all dead, the warriors from the valley turn over the stone to reveal their prize—a simple proclamation of ‘Peace on Earth’.

The chorus of the song—repeated throughout—brings home the terribly apt message for us kids who may still lack the nuances of literary interpretation. It says:

‘Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away’

These lines reverberated loudly through my child-mind, and continue to do so to this day. They are a poignant reflection on the folly of using God to justify atrocity, and seemed a sacrosanct truth to my youthful and naïve little brain.

I admit, it still feels like it should be as self-evident now as it was then, and I should expect to look around and find the lesson here to be well and thoroughly applied all around the world.

Sadly, this certainly isn’t the case. To the right and the left, every side of the political debate calls upon the name of God to justify their vitriol and hatred—encouraging increased violence and tighter control to continue their war against the dreaded ‘other’.

This ‘other’ of course, is on a holy and justified-from-on-high mission of their own.

It’s a strange situation—that the entire world stands ready to tear the throats from one another all over the assumed intentions of a God who has up to this point made no clear endorsement of any of this childish bullshit.

Where does this leave us? A sorry state, to say the least. With everyone feeling justified for every vile thing they do, and trumpeting the name of God about as if that undoes the sin of their actions, there is little room for somber reflection or moral consideration. When we self-justify by appealing to a greater power, we thusly strip ourselves of the responsibility of our actions.

God is never an excuse to act unjustly—and it is an especially cowardly and desperately ironic excuse to attempt.

Again, the lyrics come to mind.

‘You can justify it in the end…’

Good luck with that.

We will, before this age ends, be faced with many more bloody mornings no doubt. But at the least, let us face them with self-certainty and personal empowerment. Let us act for ourselves and our own values—with consideration and compassion for all others. That—and that alone—is acting in the name of God, no matter what name you choose for him.

All else is the purview of Tin Soldiers—hollow and blood-soaked—who ride away with hopes despoiled and fates long-sealed.

-Brad OH Inc.

Homeless

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI press my back against the cold stone of the bridge and take a long breath. Soon, I hope, I will rest.

The night is cold, and the fragile white light of the moon settles indifferently upon my open bed.

Tonight, I am homeless.

It isn’t the first night, and it won’t be the last. The day’s warmth still lingers in the grey cement of the support beam, and I know that despite everything, this night will be better than others.

It’s been coming for a long time. I’d been drifting—circling the drain for longer than I can recall. I knew where I was headed, but not the way to change the course.

All my life, I’d been told that working hard would get me ahead.

My hands are calloused, yet I feel far behind.

I’d been told that treating others with kindness and dignity would surround me with friends.

When I smile at strangers, they look away.

The homes around me are bright and warm.

The heat bleeds out of the bridge, and the chill sets into my bones.

I can talk to anyone—and do more often than not. People tell me that I’m so very like them—like I could be one of their friends, or someone they grew up with. I’ve heard it from vagrants, and students, and businessmen and politicians and cooks: ‘You’re just like me.’

But I am alone.

I have no tribe, and nowhere to go.

I have a reckless devotion to duty, but no one to serve.

I can walk with anyone, but rest with no one.

I’m very much like them, yet not quite enough.

I have owned property, held jobs, and loved well. I’ve never felt at home, found my purpose, or been certain of being loved in return.

The world can be cold indeed, and as the sun sets, it is sure to be colder still.

It’s not shelter I long for. Not in the end.

They say that ‘home is where the heart is’. They say it all the time.

There is nowhere I could call home, and so this bridge will do.

Tomorrow, I may find those things, and have my doubts dissolved. Tomorrow I may find that the promises of my youth were, at long last, true indeed, and that there is love and kindness and decency in this world. I may discover that virtue still burns in the hearts of man, strong enough to warm the depths of even the most frigid night.

Tomorrow, all those things may finally happen.

But tonight, I am homeless.

It is the least of my concerns.

-Brad OH Inc.

Dear America

purelyspeculationDear America,

It’s time we had a chat. I’ve been thinking about it for some time—stewing and chewing my lip and hoping the feeling would pass. Sometimes, after all, it’s best to wait things out; give it some time, let emotions cool, and perhaps things will just settle down.

It’s gone on long enough now.

It’s nothing major mind you, and I’m certainly not looking to make a ‘big deal’ about this, but there’s something you do far too often to overlook. It’s insulting, disingenuous, and, dare I say, egomaniacal.

So let’s just have it out right now. America, you really, really need to stop claiming it as your solemn duty to protect the world. Freedom is not your export.

As the world watches you plunge into chaos with sorrow and trepidation, it seems a terrible injustice to hear you continue to describe yourselves as world-leaders, while simultaneously chastising the state of the world. Be clear about this—if leaders you are, then you must take full ownership of the bad along with the good.

You have made a commodity of greed, and the pursuit of vice has long overtaken those of liberty and happiness. If you are a role-model, it is primarily for bombast and falsehood—for yelling and kicking dirt and ignoring reason until everyone else gives up on you and you sit alone to wallow in your own petulance.

You speak of freedom and democracy in the same breath as economic-sanctions and drone strikes. You’re like the oversized moron on the playground preaching about self-restraint by playing ‘stop hitting yourself’ with the runt.

It’s not as funny as that analogy may lead you to believe.

It is an insult to the world at large to be chastised about morality by rat-fink purveyors of calamity such as yourselves—it’s beyond ironic, it’s downright pathetic.

But it’s not just about us and our hurt pride. It’s not even only about the importance of owning up to your actions—although this is certainly a laudable goal as well. It’s about you, and the inexpressible importance of being sincere with yourself.

As it stands, you live in a state of terrible cognitive dissonance. Calling for war while praising your mercy, and condemning greed while lining your coffers through the toil of those with less.

It is time you set aside the false braggadocio and face your true self America. Be honest with who you are—own it first, and then decide if you wish to change. For without facing our true selves—we cannot ever hope to be at peace.

Of course, if recent headlines are to be trusted, perhaps taking a good hard look into the mirror is exactly what America has been doing of late. The question then becomes, will you like what you see? (Link)

-Brad OH Inc.