The Brad OH Inc. Super-Challenge!

Today, I’m being lazy. Don’t judge me. Lazy, and, I suppose, there’s a lingering sense of deja-vu. I find myself wondering what to say, in a time when it’s all been said, and nothing has changed.

So instead, I leave it to my intrepid readers to do the math, connect the dots…all that jazz.

Below, I’ve re-shared two former articles. It is up to you, the reader, to find what dreadfully ubiquitous themes might tie them together.

The Polarizing Debate Around Gun Control

Nobody wants to get shot. That, at the least, is something I believe we can all agree on. Wanting other people to get shot might be a different story, but let’s take what we can get.

There is virtually no one out there eager to catch a bullet when walking down the street—or to see their loved ones do so.

If we can agree on something as simple as that, one might assume we could find some basic consensus on how to handle guns in contemporary society.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fortunately, we here at Brad OH Inc. are an ambitious and defiantly tenacious lot, and today, that’s just what we intend to do. So sit down, strap in, and fasten up your bullet proof vests, because today, we are getting to the heart of the debate over gun control!

The most basic breakdown of opinions here are the classic and time-tested notions of right, and left. The conservatives argue in favour of free access to guns—usually on account of the good ole’ second amendment. The liberals, meanwhile, tend to go the other way—as they so often do—pushing for tighter gun control. This, presumably, goes back to the notion of not wanting to get shot.

But beyond this, things begin to get a little bit murky. I believe however, that if we truly break this whole debacle down to its very essence, we might best steal a line from ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (Source) in saying that ‘what we’ve got here is, failure to communicate’.

I want to introduce a new theme here, because I think it affords us a very important tool with which to explore this debate. I want to talk about the concept of ‘Polarity Management’.

‘Polarity Management’ (Source) describes a process by which we can more effectively analyze all sides of a debate—ideally finding a bit of common ground. In essence, ‘Polarity Management’ is a means of viewing typically entrenched positions which usually go nowhere—such as this one. ‘Polarities’ refer to the opposite ends of a single, connected issue. The key here is that one affects the other directly—it is not simply one problem to solve, but an imperative interaction that must be understood. Polarities are related, and persist over time—thus they must be managed, not solved.

The problem is that we tend to treat these as ‘either/ or’ scenarios—closing off debate, and freezing out both understanding and context. But dynamic issues such as these seldom reflect one single value or quality—no simple right or wrong. They are the result of multiple, interrelated factors.

An easy example of this is rain and sunshine. You may prefer either one, but without the other, your preference becomes a dreadful imposition. Too much sun leads to droughts, and too much rain leads to flooding. You need a balance, and that is why in any issue regarding polarities, we need communication, and then compromise.

Once we’ve identified an issue as a polarity, we can proceed to explore the balance between each side—the positives brought by each end, and the negatives they bring as well. This allows us to better understand how the opposing views of the issue interact with one another, and ideally find the crucial balance necessary to manage them.

I admit already—taking this approach to gun control with any shred of optimism is a tall order, but what the hell…let’s give it a go. To strip it all down to parts, the debate around the issue of gun control essentially amounts to two wildly opposing views:

1) The right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment, and must not be infringed in any way.

2) Gun ownership presents a significant risk to the public good, and should be curtailed, if not eliminated.

Now certainly, there are few who would fully align themselves with either extreme viewpoint, yet those are the sides as purported, so let’s consider them in turn.

Much of the argument from the (typically) Conservative crowd favoring access to firearms makes an appeal to safety—believing that arming ourselves for self-defence is an inalienable right, and that we must have the ability to purchase and carry guns in order to protects ourselves from others which might do so surreptitiously. This certainly makes some sense. After all, there is plenty of merit to the old adage against bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Of course, the better solution is to avoid entering a gun fight, or being anywhere in its vicinity. This isn’t always easy, and may even be a tad unrealistic depending on where you happen to be located. Further, the argument is often made that ‘if we make guns illegal, then only criminals will have guns’. This is a self-serving tautology to be sure, but it does a fair job of illustrating the impotent terror which might come from being left defenseless in a world full of armed lunatics.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find the (typically) Liberal crowd, who heavily favor significant controls on gun ownership, including but not limited to restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods.

This side argues that due to the potential of guns to inflict serious injury and death, access to them must be well regulated in order to avoid such weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them either unjustly, or in ignorance.

Much of the force from the ‘Right to Bear Arms’ side tends to focus on an appeal to the second amendment (Link), which guarantees to citizens that: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The ‘right to bear arms’ was initially created as an assurance that the people of America were free and able to raise a standing militia to oppose the government should it become oppressive. This is understandably justified in light of the fact that it’s exactly how America became a nation in the American Revolution against the British. But taking up arms against the government now is—sadly perhaps—a foolish and ignoble idea. The Second Amendment notion of armed war against the government is not only invalid, it’s infantile. It’s also the legal equivalent of demanding the ‘Terrorism’ trump card.

Finally, it must be noted here that even within that sacred amendment, the qualifier ‘Well-regulated’ managed to make the cut. Never was there any suggestion of handing out missile-launchers to every civilian. Handguns for self-defence may be deemed reasonable, but if you are equipped to fight an army, you are more likely to start a war.

At this point, we can see some weakness in the notion of free access to guns for all. There are few who would support selling firearms to people on a terrorist watch list, or violent offenders—and those few should certainly be ashamed of their stupidity.

But accepting some control hardly means encouraging complete control, and it may certainly be argued that the more difficult it is for citizens to legally access firearms for self-defence, the more prone they are to victimization by those who will harbor no such qualms. Further, it is a defensible case to argue that unless a restriction is demonstrably proven to be in the best interests of the citizens, then a government has no right whatsoever to enforce it. While I expect the vast majority of people who would favor that position would have a hard time defending it if pressed, it’s something to consider.

So where does this leave us? We can see strengths and weaknesses on both sides: With no control, we are inundated with guns and seduced by their increasing fetishization. With complete gun control however, we are cast into perceived subservience, and potentially left helpless against criminals who continue to arm themselves.

So here we are. Gun deaths are increasing, distrust of police/ government is growing, and America continues to have a depressing hang-up about guns being inherent to their self-worth (Source). Further, we’ve now seen that the extreme polarity of either side could potentially prove disastrous. Because we can now better understand the best intentions (public safety) of both sides, as well as the inherent risks of each extreme (uncontrolled carnage), we may find that we are better equipped to find a position of compromise.

We need balance and informed decision making. Both opinions have valuable insights—but we must actively work towards a greater and more comprehensive understanding of the issue if we ever hope to manage it. People, left with no hope, will always find ways to be violent and get what they need. We must give them hope for an achievable way if we intend to avoid strife. In the end, it is education and empathy, not arms, which shall assure the future safety of our citizenry.

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

Government infringement into personal life is a serious concern to a great many people—and the stripping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.

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The Corporate Path is Clear

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Recently, the Corporate World achieved another outstanding victory in the passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, and this is just cause for every little Corporate boy and girl to celebrate! This deal—passed with exceeding secrecy and underhanded tactics meriting great praise—has cleared the way for the final stage of Global Corporate takeover! The world for too long has stood on the crossroads between the old values of equity and access, and the new inroads of exclusivity and dominance. With this ruling, we can finally put boots to asses, and send this listless planet down the fast-lanes to true Corporate greatness!

The TPP is a Trade Agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries, and was passed on Oct. 5th, 2015 (Link). With the aim of clarifying complex international trade protocols similar to NAFTA before it, the passing of the TPP represents one of the greatest moral victories of our time, and a true recognition of the inherent worth and global merit of your friendly Corporate Citizens. With it, the shackles of injustice have been cast away from Corporations around the world, and finally we will be allowed to flex our full power without the heinous hindrance of being answerable to ‘the people’. We’re one too after all, and it’s due time they answer to us!

Described as creating a ‘hybrid government-Corporate structure’ (Link), the TPP is nothing short of the Liberty Bell sounding throughout the lands/ boardrooms—declaring to all Corporate people to go out and do what they will. No longer will we be held back by weak-minded considerations such as ‘environmental concerns’, ‘fair wages’, ‘fair’ copyright laws, ‘affordable’ medications, ‘worker’s rights’, ‘domestic job creation’, and ‘privacy protection’ (Source).

It’s a stunning accomplishment to say the least—and directly reflects the world’s gestating acknowledgement of its true leaders. For it is Corporations which build society, and by unburdening us from the wasteful confines of ‘global responsibility’, we are freed to continue to do what we are made to do—maximize profits!

Could it get any better for your beloved Corporate benefactors you ask? Well, we’re happy to say it can! Not only does the TPP grant us the Inalienable Right to ignore the ‘inalienable rights’ of private citizens, it also provides Corporations the ability to challenge foreign laws in so far as they impact our acquisition of Capital, and to have a greater (and well-deserved) role in writing and voting on government policy!

Clearly, this is a lauded day in the history of the Corporation, but as the small, merely ‘human’ individual you are, you may well be wondering how this affects your pitiful existence. Have no fear—the passing of the TPP soundly ensures that those concerns are no longer in your domain. The Global-Corporate takeover is now nearly complete, and that only means that for every fear and each doubt you may harbour in your fragile little minds, Corporations are already working on the answer. We hold the reigns now, and your complete trust is the only rational response.

Not sure what to eat? We’ve got you covered! Confused about Environmental debates? Leave it to us! Sick? Save up! Out of work, destitute, and stricken by an unconscionable sense of ennui? Fear not my child, for we the Corporations will always ensure there is just enough to go around—how else could you possibly continue your unconditional support of our governance?

Face it—this is only the culmination of a long-entrenched reality. We the Corporations have everything well in control. So sit back, let your ‘Genius’ playlist tell you what to listen to for a ‘relaxing mood’, and trust that everything will be ok.

After all, we’re here for you™.

-Brad OH Inc.

Donald Trump, Arrested Development, and the Future of the Free World

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Recently, we here at Brad OH Inc. read an article (Link) about Donald Trump Pinatas being sold in Mexico. This was hailed as a fine example of capitalism in action—the Mexican people, angered by Trump’s racist remarks (Link), were using their money to show what they think of the man.

‘Capitalism in Action’… I wonder how true this is.

What if it was all a ruse by Trump himself, who is not really the racist idiot he’s been portraying lately, but is in fact exactly what he’s always claimed to be: a brilliant capitalist.

Of course, even the finest financial minds require a bit of inspiration, and I think Trump may have found his when recently watching Season 4 of Netflix’s ‘Arrested Development’ (Link).

In the fourth season of this commendable show, there is a storyline involving building a wall on the Mexican border. There’s also a day called ‘Cinco de Quatro’. This mockery of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ was a day invented by the racially-reactive Lucille Bluth as a means of destroying ‘Cinco de Mayo’ novelties in advance of the day.

As it turned out of course, this only proved a very lucrative opportunity for the enterprising local immigrants in the O.C. (don’t call it that).

But considering these events juxtaposed to Trump’s recent activities, I wonder if he formed a particularly wicked little scheme of his own.

Claiming to run for office was all part of the plan, as it created a sufficient platform to insult the entirety of the Mexican people by claiming he would build a wall and have them pay for it.

Trump, and we can assume by this hair-brained scheme that he is at least a bit racist, used this as the bait, and then went to establishing a large-scale business just south of the border producing Donald Trump piñatas.

Clearly, his heinous gambit paid off, and Trump has once again proven himself the insightful genius he’d have you all think.

Or maybe he’s really just a racist windbag. What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

purelyspeculationLast week on Brad OH Inc., we explored the issue of government infringements into personal data. This is a serious concern to a great many people—and the striping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.

Embrace the Security State

cropped-blogbanner1.jpgHere at Brad OH Inc., we are acutely aware of the ongoing concerns over government infringements on personal security (Link). At an ever increasing rate, governments are worming their ways into our homes, businesses, and private lives—all in the almighty name of security.

While these government intrusions into public life are most often done under the broad banner of national security, this isn’t the case for all instances of data theft. Next time you’re browsing through your favourite social media sources, take some time to observe the side-bar of advertisements tailor-made for you based on websites you’ve recently visited or items you’ve considered buying. This is all possible through the ability of the current website to read your browsing history and sell it to advertisers.

And why not? No one reading this right now has the ability to protect themselves from international killers any more than they have the clairvoyance to choose what to buy for themselves. No matter whether we’re discussing terrorism, cyber-security, or consumer habits, it’s foolhardy to deny that without corporations, we are as helpless and exposed as fish in a barrel—or the ocean at the very least.

It’s inevitable that we rely on corporations for these fundamental needs, just as we rely on them for everything else: the building of infrastructure, the shaping of our society, and the social stratification of our population. So let’s take a moment to calm down, cause I’ve seen a lot of griping going on about the notion of the government and corporations perusing through our personal data in order to serve us better.

At Brad OH Inc., we suggest you give up this tired charade. Safety, privacy, and advertisements are better left to those who know how to run things. Worrying is for the birds, and in our humble opinions, the only action left to your sorry lot is to relax and accept the inevitable. After all, be it civil liberty or private data, the only real way to protect what you own is to own nothing at all!

Maybe this notion seems hostile to you? Maybe you’re the sort that easily set off by trifling abdications of liberty? I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re entirely wrong her. Consider this: if you don’t like what you’re reading right now, maybe it’s your own fault. After all, if we here at Brad OH Inc. had the level of access to your personal lives and information that the government and other corporations do, we could happily go out of our way to ignore reality and write up just about anything you wanted to hear.

…Just like they do.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Global Scale

purelyspeculationYou may have noticed that here at Brad OH Inc., we tend to cover a lot of issues centering on the politics of the good old U.S. of A. Now, this shouldn’t be overly surprising, as we’re really only following the lead of the news world at large, but an interesting fact is that we are in fact based out of Canada. Now, undoubtedly we’ll eventually relocate to a more convenient tax haven—the Canary Islands perhaps (Source)—but until then we are firmly entrenched here in the great white north.

Given this consideration then, why do we tend to cover so many American issues? Well, the quickest answer is that American issues are world issues, plain and simple. The issue of Corporate Imperialism is a global one, and while many of the relevant stories are centered in America, it is in no way defined by national boundaries. In fact, many of the crucial concerns we have right now with global politics revolve around the obfuscating and intentional subversion of national boundaries.

American Imperialism is nothing new. Under the governing principle of ‘Manifest Destiny’, America has spent its entire existence working to expand its global influence (Source). Now this article is not about American Imperialism per say, but focusses instead on the ways in which the subversive corporate process tends to seize control of not only single governments, but entire global systems.

In ‘Democracy Incorporated’, Sheldon S. Wolin (Link) describes this process as one of ‘Inverted Totalitarianism’. As greater and greater leeway is made for corporations to expand, it becomes easier and easier for such exceptions to be made. The civil ruling in the case of Citizens United (Source) saw corporations legally defined as persons, and their use of money in politics was defined as protected under the freedom of speech amendment.

This allows for corporations to spend unlimited sums of money to fund lobbyists and special interest groups which can affect the political process—thereby ensuring the passing of further laws designed to benefit the corporations while damning the rest of us.

With the power allotted to them, corporations, both American based and otherwise—an especially tricky notion to even define given the ongoing ability for corporations to take advantage of ‘Corporate Inversion’ loopholes, changing the legal base of their operation in order to avoid paying taxes (Source)–can exploit overseas markets to take advantage of indecent foreign labour laws and low wages. This takes jobs out of local economies, while reinforcing a split world notion of what’s good for us is too good for them.

This issue is conflated by political embargoes on trade, such as that placed upon Cuba. Further, because of the global impact of corporate power, laws passed in American court rooms inevitably affect the rest of the world as well. Consider climate change for instance. Here, American courts can pass laws governing the environmental impact of the corporations operating within them, even though these laws ultimately affect the world as a whole. Another easy and timely example of this is the issue of net neutrality (Source).

Meanwhile, the power afforded to lobbyists and the open door between corporate firms and government positions, allows corporate pressures in Washington to go so far as to effect war time policy; destabilizing foreign governments in order to ‘crack open’ new markets.

Clearly then, while the basis of much of what we read in the news is centered in the U.S.A., the system is ubiquitous, and defies any conception of national boundaries.

Neither is this an issue to be solved by American politics. In the same way that the effects of this system have spread to the entirety of the globe like a contagion unchecked, so too is the solution beyond the voting power of the American electorate.

This is not an issue of one misguided leader or party, and therefore the solution will not come from the other misguided leader or party. It is not a calculated, intentional process made by a cartel of greedy and deeply informed plutocrats—although there has undoubtedly been plenty such deals made along the way.

The process leading us here was an understandable though unjustifiable series of small exceptions. It can be thought of as tantamount to favours between friends; ‘well I usually wouldn’t do this, but…’ is the mentality driving it. Politicians accept huge sums of money from their corporate lobbyists, and then pass bills to support them. Few of them, with the exception of the above mentioned Citizens United, have been terrible to the ‘man who sold the world’ extent, but their cumulative effect certainly is. The unnatural coupling of unchecked capitalist ambition with backdoor political deregulations has spawned a new and terrible sort of brute.

Corporate Imperialism is an infectious and wild beast, reared on its own legal momentum, and driven by the cumulative greed of all the snakes writhing at its rotten breast. The ceaseless need for expansion will continue to push the boundaries of what is legally excusable, all the while reinforcing the western world in their role as exploiters, and relegating all the rest to the forgotten underclass of the forgettable exploited.

This is not a political viewpoint or ideology, but an unintentional by-product of ongoing mistakes. It is self-perpetuating, growing cancer-like with utter disregard for consequences. It is the fetishization of money, and money acting with its own power to expand its reach. Greed is the engine behind this, and a system which allows greed to change its workings in favour of its own expansion that has allowed the situation to get to where it’s at.

This is why when I write about America, I’m not writing about the country as a singular problem, but rather the resulting corporate contagion that’s dominating global politics.

In conclusion, let it be known that the mission of Brad OH Inc. is in no way meant to be interpreted as Anti-American. No, we are anti-world at this point, and underlying all is the fundamental belief that greed and self-service shall not be the driving factors in globalization. Equality, decency, and the betterment of humanity are the platforms we are interested in, and if that rings as starry-eyed idealism to you, you might do well to put some serious consideration into the alternatives (Link).

The change that’s needed is not a new political party in America or elsewhere, it’s a global revolution.

-Brad OH Inc.

A Question of Police Responsibility

purelyspeculationIt seems a man can’t go online today without reading about another shameful clash between the police and the citizens they are sworn to protect. The over-the-top crackdowns on peaceful protests like Occupy Wall St. in New York City are just one example of the chilling trend facing today’s citizens. It’s a facet of daily living now for anyone paying attention—we’ve even covered the issue before in our Single Serving Story- ‘Of Pipers and Pigs’.

More and more each day, police are responding to peaceful demonstrations with violence, illegal detainments, and intimidation. It’s difficult to imagine reading about any political demonstration these days without just assuming the inevitable conclusion. People gather to express their opinions and values in a public forum; they may march, they may sit, there’s probably the occasionally song sang or pot banged. Then they come—the police roll in with automatic weapons and tactical response vehicles; cracking heads, illegally arresting innocent citizens, and pepper-spraying people at close range. The documented abuses of power seem to go on without end (Source).

But what is to be said of the men and women wearing the badges? Off duty, they walk those same streets, shop at those same stores, and are affected by those same issues. How is it that a badge, a uniform, and a gun can draw such a harsh distinction between ordinary people?

Clichés and disparaging stereotypes aside, I believe it’s fair to say that a significant proportion of police officers get into such a line of work because they care: about their communities, about the people in them, and about the general values and safety of the society they too occupy. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we could all feel some hint of pride and protection when we looked upon one of the ‘boys in blue’.

But it isn’t blue anymore, is it?

On Aug. 9th, 2014, the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson led to significant protesting and calls for justice across the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. The police response was heinous; men in camouflage, armed with all manner of deadly weapons and riding in tactical response vehicles swept through and terrorized the neighbourhood (Source). To an untrained eye, it would be impossible to tell if this was the response of a local police force or an invading army: and that’s a significant problem.

The increasingly militarized appearance of local police forces is the result in part of the dangerous and irresponsible ‘1033 Program’—part of the Disposition Services of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) (Source). The purpose of this program is to transfer surplus military hardware from the army to local law enforcement agencies. The result is that small law enforcement offices around the country are being supplied with military grade tools—technology designed to destabilize and control foreign militants is being deployed against the very citizens it was designed to protect.

Now, take a breath and clear your head. A rational thinker might interject here, insisting that this equipment would be held in reserve in case of a dire local threat—such as a terrorist strike, or perhaps the unsolicited landing of a foreign offence force in some small shit-town in mid-west America. But if we look closer at the agreement between the DLA and participatory states, we’ll find that one of the clauses agreed to is that the military equipment be put into use within one year, or returned (Source).

Clearly, this puts a dangerous expectation on the police officers in these communities. If the equipment has to be used within a year, the difficult job befalling them is finding a way to use it. This involves selecting a group of citizens to use this equipment on, as well as some excuse to do so. The result is that these tactical vehicles and dangerous weapons are showing up for duties of crowd control, warrant searches, and notably, against people of colour in 58% of cases.

Here, we see a growing divide between the general citizenry and the officers sworn to protect them. The ongoing process of militarization, and government pressures to use such alarming equipment against its people, serves to ramp this tension up to 11; and a veritable pressure cooker for impending disaster.

The quote has been going around for a while now, but that makes it no less fitting. The words of Commander William Adama, of Battlestar Galactica, echo the situation with prophetic accuracy:

“There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”    

-Commander William Adama, Battlestar Galactica.

Another key issue factoring into this divide is the skewed demographics of police forces. In order to serve effectively, a police force must be seen not only as representative of its district, but also as able to identify with the specific needs and values of its community. Sadly, this is seldom the case. In the example of Ferguson, 6% of police officers were African-American—and this in a community where 67% of the citizens are African-American (Source).

This separation between police and community is strengthened by the execution of overtly unfair laws, such as the Civil Forfeiture practice, which allows possessions to be seized from citizens and sold for the profit of the police force with no trial whatsoever (Source).

It’s a pretty dismal picture, but what exactly is the driving force behind these startling trends? Whether the militarization of police forces is motivated by the so-called ‘war on drugs’, as claimed at the onset of the program (Source), by the goal of counter-terrorism, or simply to continue lining the pockets of America’s Arms distributors (Link), who’s to say? The real question is, just what is to be done about it?

The police, in this strange position of paramilitary, anti-citizenry force, certainly make for an easy target—and that in spite of their camouflage. But a police force is an undeniably important facet of any functioning society, no matter how utopian the goals may be. If you imagine a world without cops as an equitable paradise of peace and prosperity, I fear you are not sufficiently acquainted with humanity.

One thing that’s clear is that something needs to change. If history is any indicator however, holding our breath for the government to enact legislation in favor of the people—and against corporate interests—will mean we won’t be long for this earth. So what can change then?

Ultimately, the duty falls upon the men and women wearing the badges. Upon taking such a position, these people are duty bound to serve the best interests of the citizenry in their jurisdiction. That duty has become increasingly difficult as the militarization effort continues, and police forces which fail to represent their district only obfuscate the problem further.

The egregious errors that have been made were strongly influenced by the current system, and while there certainly needs to be accountability on that front, I am more concerned with the personal responsibility of all who wear the uniform. When in the line of duty, there must be a sense of ethics operating beneath the badge—and a conscious consideration of whether the duties imposed on them are truly the sort of activity they signed up for.

We must count on the strength of character in these good men and women, and hope it proves sufficient to see them through in situations so inundated with uncertainty. The fact that this distinction must be made is a damning sign of the times, but we must now call upon all police officers to act with wisdom and empathy for those they protect; not simply because of their badge, but perhaps in spite of it.

-Brad OH Inc.