The Real State of the Union

On January 16th, the 2019 State of the Union address was announced to be delayed. No matter, for this year the world got a more effective representation of the current state of American society than any mono-syllabic speech could ever hope to provide.

While evidence of his collusion with Russia goes largely ignored, the hot news out of the cesspool called America this week focused on President Trump’s celebration party with the Clemson Tigers—this season’s NCAA Football champions.

It is traditional for victorious teams to be wined and dined at the Whitehouse—after all, there are few greater distinctions available to the American populace than being good at (American) football.

That notwithstanding, teams are usually greeted with a fine dining experience in the Whitehouse to honour their victory, but this year—partially due to the government shutdown, the Clemson Tigers received something a little outside of the norm.

Served up on silver platters, and lit by golden candelabras, Trump offered a smorgasbord of (presumably cold) fast food—Big Macs, Wendy’s, Pizza—a veritable dream-spread for a 6 year old designing their own birthday party.

Leave it to America to be split right down the middle—was this a classless gaffe, or was it fulfilling the deepest desires of this pack of finely tuned young athletes?

Some argued that Trump gave them a far more fitting meal than the ‘caviar and wine’ any other president might offer, whereas others saw it as a crude and vulgar gesture, utterly unfit for large men who are good at throwing balls.

It should go without saying that this is one of the more idiotic debates of the year, although it would of course have steep competition. But no matter where you sit on the dinner, one thing cannot be denied—it may be the most fitting metaphor for the current state of America we’ve seen in quite some time.

Fancy décor, huge controversy, embellished claims, and a smiling idiot unaware of how absurd he seems. Silver trays offering items barely passable as food, given to successful athletes who are prized above the doctors, teachers, and firemen who truly serve the nation. A self-defeating celebration with a pompous air of self-importance to it.

It was cheap, unhealthy, embarrassing, and presented with endless lies and self-aggrandizing.

When it comes to empty promises and dishonest representation, the President is truly king, and this fancy façade is a more potent image of the state of the Union than just about anything I can imagine.

What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

America’s Wall

Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump made a lot of wild promises which no reasonable person could expect he would really accomplish. From banning Muslim people from travel, to erasing the memory of Obama, to making America ‘great’ again, he promised a veritable cornucopia of achievements suitably grandiose yet vague to make any self-conscious, fear-addled white man foam at the mouth with vindictive anticipation.

Of course, none of these promises were more discussed than his strange claim to build a wall along the border, and make Mexico pay for it.

Let’s not even get into that bit about Mexico paying for it. That’s not the point.

Beyond all the bluster and hair-brained grandstanding, the Wall became the great theme of his campaign. Now, it is a more nebulous thing. It’s not talked about as much these days, but that’s the way with a grifter. Let the details fade once the price has been paid. Blur the lines, and redefine what it means to be successful—to be honest. Was it about a wall? Or safety? Safety, or fear?

If you didn’t realize that was rhetorical, let me spoil it for you. It was about fear. It’s always about fear.

The Wall was a bracer against the fear of lost privilege, and although the physical wall seems to be a distant memory, the barrier Trump promised continues to be built brick by brick with each hateful tweet, each insult to justice, and each scorned plea for decency.

Nations around the world are beginning to see this Wall tearing up the skyline, and have taken the point. America is no longer the trusted ally that it arguably used to be. Less so each day. They are unpredictable and cruel. Hateful of all others, and loathing of themselves.

Of all the destructive, strange claims Trump has made in vain, it seems the famous promise of a Wall may indeed come true. Of course, in typical rat fashion, it will come true in a significantly different way than promised. That’s the way with conmen…and enchanted artifacts, I think.

Is that isolation what’s best? It’s hard to say. Short of some miraculous about-face not only in the politicians of America, but in the politics of its citizens and media, America is poised now to settle into the mire and rot it has made for itself—abandoned and abjured behind a wall of fear, anger, and spite.

A wall of its own making.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: The Misled Goal of Job Creation

Today, we are re-sharing an older article, which is becoming only more relevant by the day. Sadly, it seems we have failed continually to learn our lessons, and the need for such solutions grows more urgent with each passing moment.

In this troublesome economic climate, people often wonder what can be done to keep the majority of citizens gainfully employed. The most common solution bandied about is the creation of jobs, but I’m not convinced this is the correct answer. As a matter of fact, I’m not even convinced it’s the right question.

Creating jobs is an unsavory and archaic notion for any true politician of the people. The implication buried within the notion of job creation is that there is a scarcity of work, and therefore an abundance of people struggling to get by—desperate for any job that might put even a few extra dollars in their painfully neglected wallets.

This shift towards job shortage is not a new trend; there have been myriad elements contributing to job reduction for centuries. From assembly lines to industrialization, technological changes in society have always had a significant impact on the need for labour. On the other front, remaining jobs are continually outsourced to countries unable to protect the rights of their workers, allowing corporate profits to skyrocket while jobs previously available to our citizens are doled out to foreign workers for a pittance of pay.

With the impending shifts inherent to burgeoning fields like 3D-Printing and nanotechnology, the number of jobs is only poised to shrink even further, leaving more and more people out of work and desperate for money.

In this scenario, we must view labour as a societal need and resource both. Living wages however, must be taken as a right. Thus, there exists a clear need to balance the two intelligently.

The creation of low-paying jobs, capable of keeping people occupied while failing to supply a living wage is a deeply flawed solution. The notion that one must toil in obscure and needless positions just to get by is counter-intuitive in a society poised to benefit unilaterally from our continued advancement.

Make no mistake about it; the high functioning state of societies output at present is due to the cumulative effect of human progress, not the ingenuity of a few thousand people at present. The corporate executives currently pulling the strings have benefitted from being in the right place at the right time just as much as business savvy or vision.

Still, history has shown us that the trend is to consider ‘job creation’ an invaluable resource mercifully allotted by these high-level executives. This perspective is entirely wrong—the resources we must now be focusing on, finally, are our human ones.

So, if job creation isn’t the answer, what is? Well, once again, we must consider if we’re asking the right question. The initial quandary was how to keep the majority of citizens gainfully employed—but I don’t think this is the right goal.

If we as a society have reached a point where we don’t have a need for everyone to be working, then forcing it is illogical and unnecessary.

With profits booming, and CEO’s taking home ever-increasing bonuses, perhaps the solution instead is to ensure that every available job is sufficient for a person to support themselves and their family.

It’s not a difficult idea, but the implications are further reaching than may be apparent.

A significant increase to minimum wage would allow for more stay-at-home parents—an investment in our future the worth of which is beyond measure. Further, with increased pay, the working class would have significantly more money to pump into the economy, which would only benefit the businesses.

Therefore, the result of increased wages would be two-fold. First, the number of jobs necessary to keep society fed would be decreased by as much as half, while the function of society (Raising healthy, well-adjusted children to carry it on) would be served all the better. Secondly, the economy itself would boom with the injection of blue-collar spending dollars, creating more robust business opportunities.

Now, I can already hear the incensed chattering of right-wing loons and business moguls, decrying how this would slice into their profit margin and collapse the free market.


While the economy has struggled and stagnated for the majority, corporate profits have been doing just fine, and high-level executives continue to line their pockets with the fat of the land.

The concept of protecting profits is a misnomer, and while these executives would like you to believe that increasing minimum wage would castrate their ability to function as a business entity, in truth the only thing being hurt would be the paycheques of the top 1%–a notion I am entirely comfortable with.

So, there we have it. Rather than the ubiquitously heralded goal of creating jobs, the real solution may be to fix wages. By doing so, we could again create a society where kids have parents to come home to, where people aren’t forced to work 60 hours weeks just to rent a basement flat, and where the greed of the few does not necessitate the squalor of the many.

It’s really not such a bad idea, if you think about it.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Second Most Important Step to Improving the United States

purelyspeculationHere at Brad OH Inc., we have on several occasions (Link) covered an issue which is indisputably the most important step to improving the United States. That is the complete overturning of Citizens United (Link). This change stands at the foremost of all sorely needed improvements, solely for the reason that this ruling acts as the lynchpin to all the other changes the country—and moreover the world—so dearly needs. So long as laws are decided by the vote of Corporate dollars rather than the will of the citizenry, all other problems shall remain immutably entrenched in the quagmires of Corporate bureaucracy.

As this has been covered in depth elsewhere, however, today we will be focussing on what seems to be the second most important step to repairing the dismal affair that is the United States of America. Specifically, we’re talking about the significant reduction and reallocation of military expenditures. As discussed in our article ‘The Global Scale’ (Link), the current approach to foreign policy taken by the American government—the driving force here being the Military Industrial Complex (Link)—acts in actuality as the source of many of their current greatest woes.

As more and more effort is exerted to bring ‘freedom’ to the rest of the world, so grow the enemies of America—understandably bitter about the ‘foreign aid’ that comes in the form of drone strikes, trade embargoes, and unnumbered civilian casualties. This creates a dangerous cycle, in which the American populace—goaded by the bought-and-paid-for media—feels more terrified by the day, and are comforted only by the knowledge that their dear country is capable at any point of destroying the world in the name of saving it.

“But if you strip military spending, you’ll expose us to terrorists,” cry the feint-hearted American media-stooges. Well, let’s consider the facts for a moment—if that doesn’t seem too tall an order.

Based on presently reported statistics (Source), the United States spends approximately $577 Billion on its military each year. This is significantly more than the TOTAL of the next 10 highest spending countries combined.

I’ll allow a second for that to sink in.

With spending like this, America is rather like the kid who shows up to a water pistol fight armed with a firetruck. It’s Rambo intruding on a friendly game of cops and robbers—PTSD flashbacks and all. Simply put: It’s madness.

Meanwhile, infrastructure is crumbling (Source), the homeless population is ballooning (Source), veterans are left without care (Source), and funding for public education is being gutted (Source).

Looking at the numbers above, let’s consider the relationships here with a quick bit of theorizing. If—and this is a naivety to be sure—the US were to slash their military expenditures in half, they would be left with a yearly military budget of around $288.5 Billion. Now, while only half of what is deemed currently necessary, this would still leave the US with a military budget higher than the combined budgets of the next 3 highest spenders. That doesn’t seem like an especially dangerous situation to be in, especially considering that half of the top ten spenders are allies of America.

Further to this consideration, we’ve seen through manifold examples in the past, and as an ongoing theme of the present (Link), that military escalation is a losing game. Investment in war tends primarily to breed more war—with the only safety-net being found in mutual destruction.

If however, this budget change was made, America would remain far and away the greatest military power the world has ever known, and yet would have a sudden windfall of $288.5 Billion to spend on social services like Veteran Affairs, Welfare Programs, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, (real) Foreign Aid, Home Care Services, Senior Care, and so much more.

With such a change, America could begin to be the utopian saviour it so desperately wants to be, rather than the school-yard bully who beats on people until they praise him. By setting an example for the world of the sort of peaceful and genuine neighbour they could be, they would likely reduce their enemies greatly, improve many foreign relationships, and, if funds were allocated appropriately, perhaps solve global terrorism at its root, rather than merely spreading the fire.

The end-goal here should not be hard to see—by addressing this ridiculous budgeting fiasco, the US could be the beacon of hope it has always claimed to be, rather than just another blind threat uttered in the darkness of irrational fear.

-Brad OH Inc.

Saving the World: 101

purelyspeculationSupply and demand is the driving force behind any effective economy. Since the Industrial Revolution (Link) however, the face of the ‘supply’ end has been changing. As reliance on machines began to increase in the production of goods, the number of workers required has reduced correspondingly. Materials and goods are now produced more efficiently, and at lower costs to the producers.

Of course, like all things technologically driven, this process only tends to speed up exponentially over time. With the dawn of automation in factories, and technologies like 3D-Printing reinvigorating the revolutionary process begun in the 1800’s, the balance between supply and demand may never have seen such a radical shift. In fact, it’s entirely plausible that within a decade or two, we could produce the vast majority of our goods with little to no human investment.

As discussed in our article ‘On the Concept of Society’, the advancements of society are a cumulative process, and their rewards must therefore be shared equally amongst its constituents. Sadly, this is seldom the case.

While the supply end of the market grows ever easier, demand remains moreover the same, and the essential balance between the two becomes very different from what was initially intended. Rather than setting a price based on the amount of a good available contrasted against the demand for that good, we see a more methodical approach: With an unlimited quantity of a given commodity available to be produced at extremely low cost, what is the greatest amount that can be charged for that product without alienating consumers?

Therefore, the maximum amount is charged for all goods and services, while the financial gains resulting from improved means of production tend to filter only into the pockets of the business owners.

The final result is that the vast majority of the citizenry continues to struggle to meet their basic needs. Clearly, this system is no longer an acceptable form of management, but where do we go from here?

Let us consider the original need for economic systems such as the ‘free-market’ and its inherent reliance on ‘supply and demand’. The world—and moreover society—has always been in need of guidance, of a helping hand to direct us in the choices we need to make. In its historical absence, humans have spent the greater part of our existence inventing our own, then fighting over the results.

Usually, the established political system is intended to reign in the ambitions of the market place, but here too we have found ourselves struggling. Voters find themselves muzzled by corporate control of government, false-choice party politics, and the impossibility of getting any legitimate populist issue to the table past the corporate watchdogs.

So the economic systems can no longer function, and the political system won’t. There’s good news however. We may finally be at a point technologically where there is no longer any excuse not to begin work on a real solution to these co-morbid failings. A ‘God Program’, if you will. Its basis is already established in the internet, and certainly the tools are there to build towards an effort at human consensus through the ability to share ideas uncensored worldwide. This would benefit all people: both in the economic forum, and the political one.

Currently, the internet—with examples such as Reddit, Anonymous, Occupy Wall St. etc.—represents the incredible brilliance and diversity of our population. However, this brilliant spread of people have next to no representation in electoral politics. The political view is dominated by the opinions of crusty old business men who care only for their own profit margins.

Tapping into the full potential of the internet represents an incredible shift in our conceptions of democracy and political participation. In a return to something closer to Athenian Democracy (Link),this program would give the power of voice back to the electorate.

By fundamentally altering the existing architecture of the internet to handle these lofty ambitions, we could establish not only international, uninhibited communication on key political topics, but also a database of all fact and knowledge—with Wikipedia likely acting as a fine foundation for that concept.

The program would not only increase the political voice of all people, but fully manage the economic considerations outlined in our discussion of supply and demand. Its considerations would need to include population size and the balances therein, crop yield, required sources of work and how such might be distributed. Essentially, with a computer program evaluating all available supply and existing demand, society would largely be engineered rather than controlled—with science, math, and humanity acting as the fundamental drives, rather than money or power.

To be sure, this isn’t a new idea by any stretch—as far back as the founding of Technoracy Inc. (Link) in 1931, the notion of a society driven by logic and engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of all has been floating around. It just hasn’t gained much traction.

Why is that?

The society we have in mind would be ideal for everyone alive. With a perfect balance of resources, a deep understanding of social needs, and a computer program capable of predicting these needs and social shifts well in advance, we could hone our efficiency, while creating a Golden Age in regards to leisure time and cultural advancement.

Balancing all needs and efforts, and focussing a calculated portion of all proceeds towards scientific research that is not limited by the profit margins of corporate priorities, our overflow of resources could be harnessed to solve any new problem which might spring up—certainly not excluding the ultimate and near-inevitable need to begin mining and colonizing beyond Earth.

There would be room for businesses to thrive and continue to both produce and profit from innovative consumer goods in a truly free-market (un-manipulated by large-scale corporate interests), while government institutions and human resources would focus clearly on the benefit of all mankind.

With an extremely small and efficient active workforce, and the needs of all met by this program, opportunities would be available for anyone to pursue their passions, and these would directly benefit all. The idea of job shortages leading to poverty or starvation would be unheard of. Mothers or Fathers would stay home to take care of their children rather than greeting people at Walmart, and all people would be free to choose a pursuit which serves them the best.

The program would allow for balance and bounty, while increasing our leisure time and guiding us into a new era of economic and cultural prosperity.

So then, what might be standing in the way of such an idyllic solution? I suppose you’d have to ask yourself another question. Specifically—when we consider utilizing the internet as a salvation for society: controlling profits, balancing production, lowering costs, increasing personal freedom and social supports, improving unilateral political participation, and using excess profits for the betterment of all—exactly who could possibly stand to lose?

If you can answer that question, you’ll see the reason that society has not yet begun to take these easily available steps towards a more utopian ideal. But in the end, it’s not their hearts or minds upon which real change depends, but our own.

-Brad OH Inc.

In Defense of the Villain

Under the Green Desk Lamp..

Green Desklamp

There is a great deal of credit to be given to the pivotal villains in our lives. They are the flavour—the spices to the bland and basic nutrients of daily experience. Without the villains, there is no story, and without villains, it’s pretty damn hard to have a hero. Without the Joker, Batman is just some crazy asshole in tights; without Scar, Simba just an entitled burgeoning monarch.

Whether we look to the great novels of our time, or fine films—in daily life and even in professional wrestling, it’s inevitably the villains that make the story matter. They create the conflict, and more often than not, provide the personality so lacking in a world without them.

At Brad OH Inc., it’s a role we are often more than happy to play, and why not? Villains walk the less familiar path, and the great ones do so for reasons worthy to make us question what might otherwise be a simple matter of rote knowledge. They are the equation before the solution, the seduction preceding the climax.

In contrast, the hero is an easy role, and one driven merely by the most basic values and expectations which everyone should know. They’re accessible, simple, and fundamentally uninteresting. Ultimately, the hero can by nature do little more than reaffirm that which we already know, and while this can for a certainty be a great comfort at times, it lacks the potential to teach us anything new. Practice makes perfect—but mistakes are where the fun comes in.

Yet if you ask any given person, at any random time, you will with little variance hear them claim that they are a ‘good guy/ girl’, that they do what is right, and condemn its antithesis. It’s not a hard claim to make, and it shouldn’t be a difficult line to walk. The right choices are—or at the very least certainly should be—incredibly easy to make. Decency is a concept confined to no language, limited by no culture. It’s the same in most any society, and is the basis of every religion. Be honest, treat others well, consider the effects of your actions—Christ, I’m getting bored just typing it. Reiterating such basic concepts ad nauseum is like selling a math book with only the answers—it tells you everything, but teaches you nothing. It’s the job of the villain to provide the questions, and that is by far the more compelling role.

But while the villain may be the more fun and interesting role, it’s no earth-shaking thesis to say that decency remains the logical choice as far as actual action goes. After all, if everyone were to simply follow even the most basic principles of decency, we would be living in a veritable utopia of equity and compassion. A quick and informed look around however should tell even the most simple-minded observer that that is far from the case.

So what’s going wrong? Is it that the majority, or even a highly impactful minority, is choosing to play the villain role out of passion for its inherent interest? No, I don’t think so.

If we accept the basic assumption that the world would be paradise if everyone were to follow simple precepts of decency, and further that this is such a self-evident truth that awareness of it can never be far from any one person’s worldview, then the current state of the world presents us with a significant conundrum.

The problem as I see it is that for such a system of basic decency to have any success whatsoever, it must be a tenet to which everyone holds dear. Not a few, not even the majority. It’s a platitude to be sure, but in this case it’s true that even a few bad apples will spoil the barrel. If your neighbour is likely to rob you blind and leave you for dead, showing trust and decency is a quick ticket to being a victim.

For decency to work, it must be ubiquitous. To this end, the impetus to act morally is a shared responsibility of all; unfortunately, this tends to translate in the minds of the simple majority as tantamount to and inseparable from diffused responsibility.

Herein lies the problem. The perception of diffused responsibility is erroneous from the start, as it functions to break down faith in others, and provides excuses for the self. ‘It’s up to everyone, not just me’, is an easy call to arms for the ethically impaired, and could act as an effective summary of society at large. Ultimately, diffused responsibility serves as a lessened sense of purpose for everyone involved.

The fact that a successful society is the shared responsibility of so very many people makes the idea of personal responsibility seem like a distant pipe dream, whereas in truth it should serve to increase the motivation. In place of diffused responsibility, I would submit that it should be felt as a sense of compounded responsibility. The more people share in a responsibility—and the more significant the good that stands to be gained—the greater should be the personal impetus to adhere to it.

Obviously, that expectation is a fruitless hope, but there have been respectable approaches to creating this sense in the past. For starters, an obvious attempt is rule of law. This applies consequences to anyone who strays too far from the path of decency, as defined by the courts. Law certainly succeeds in maintaining a status quo, but the threat of punishment is insufficient to snuff out ill-will in those who see no future in honesty.

Another historical attempt to keep people adhering strictly to the righteous path has been religion. Religion has—to an extent—managed to help overcome the notion of diffused responsibility and settle on the greater ideal of compounded responsibility to be decent—at the threat of eternal fire. But with the rate of active practitioners dropping steadily (Source), and the very notion of faith being bastardized by legislation such as the Right to Corporate Religion (Source), there is again little in the way of keeping the average person from shirking this fundamental personal responsibility.

The death of god is one thing, the death of the human spirit is another entirely—and a far more regrettable one at that.

So what solutions remain? If the threat of punishment by measures such as laws only motivates cooperation as long as the benefit of compliance outweighs the motivation for misdeeds, and religion is increasingly ineffective at providing internal motivation to respect the compounded responsibility to decency, what options are we left with?

I think the key question here is, beyond the delectable irony of playing the villain role, why do so many people choose to break public trust—diffused responsibility notwithstanding?

Above, we established that the world would be a utopia if everyone simply made the right choices, and acted with dignity and respect. There would be no need for dishonesty or competition. However the problem that arises is distrust—if you cannot count on other people acting this way, then you will be ripped off and fooled. Thus, very few people bother to act correctly.

The problem here is that society is presently functioning as a zero-sum game: the gains of one are the losses of another. This is increasingly true in a world where Corporations are bleeding money out of the economy, hoarding it in non-taxable offshore accounts and leaving the population as a whole to struggle on with exponentially limited resources.

If our goal is a society where people will willingly make choices that benefit society as a whole, the solution is not singularly in punishing those who break this social contract, but rather in fostering a nation in which there exists the option for all people to safely make this choice.

With effectively balanced social supports: healthcare, welfare, affordable education and housing, etc., we could strive towards a society where living in a moral way will never leave a person wanting or starving. If citizens were not forced into unbearable debt, they could realistically get by simply living a just life. If people had that faith in their society, it would make true the false promises of all past religions.

Despite the fun of playing the villain, I firmly believe that people would choose to be good if it were a realistically safe path free of treachery and betrayal. If we want people to act morally, they must be provided with the option to do so unburdened by the threat of a neglected family life or crippling debt.

It is possible, but first we must move past the selfish machinery of Corporate profit-motivated nihilism which continues to keep the citizenry shackled to a lifestyle of simple survival without positive growth.

It’s just an idea mind you. It’s a complex issue, and there can be no doubt the obstacles in the way are unthinkably vast. In the meantime, there’s no sense in not enjoying ourselves. If we can’t have perfection, at least we can have fun! Here at Brad OH Inc., we’re happy to continue to play the villain, at least until a better role comes along.

-Brad OH Inc.