Aug 8 2011

I really hate our political party system

Jamie Barrows

Some days it seems like the only thing our elected officials are capable of is blaming each other. Neither party is really working to fix anything in our government. This whole debt crisis that we recently went through was one of the worst examples of everything that is wrong with our country.

We, as a nation, have a spending problem. For every dollar our government spends, 40 cents is borrowed. That is not a sustainable long term spending plan. On top of that, we have been doing that for a LONG time. So we have a huge existing debt load. We have to stop spending at the rate we are spending, and we have to start paying off the current debt. That means that both parties are going to have to cut programs and taxes are going to have to go up.

But neither party is willing to do any of the hard things that are necessary. Members of both parties are more interested in making sure that they score political points against the other party. And both are more interested in making sure that they get reelected than in doing what is good for the country.

Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on what programs to cut. But the truth is, all of the programs need to be cut back. We simply can’t afford to keep spending at the rate we are spending. The question that politicians should be asking is how much they need to be cut, rather than bickering about whether the specific program should be cut at all. The longer they wait on making the needed cuts, the more bankrupt this country gets. Eventually we won’t be able to borrow money to run the programs at all.

Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on raising taxes. The Democrats want to tax only the wealthy, and the Republicans refuse to raise taxes at all. Republicans need to realize that even if we cut all of the programs back to the bare minimum, we still won’t have the money to begin paying back the HUGE amount we owe. So taxes will have to be raised. And Democrats need to recognize that raising taxes on the wealthy only, is only going to hurt our nation by encouraging the wealthy to move out of our nation and take their wealth with them. Taxes will need to be raised for everyone and that isn’t going to be popular.

But as we saw in the recent debate, the parties don’t really care about fixing the problem. Both parties have lots of excuses and reasons for why they won’t budge. Democrat voters don’t want the programs that they believe are helping people to get cut back. Republican voters don’t want more money taken from people who need it to pay for what they believe will be more spending increases.

At the end of the day, neither party actually really cares about the Country as a whole. They only care about getting reelected. So they won’t do anything that might make their constituents vote them out of office. Both parties will let our nation fall apart around them while they argue over stupid sound bytes and meaningless legislation that doesn’t fix any of the problems.

Aug 7 2011

The Two Koreas

Jamie Barrows

I was browsing the web this weekend and found a photo blog with recent pictures of North Korea. The pictures were really good and I recommend clicking the link and checking them out for yourself.

It was fascinating to see the differences between the North and the South. The extreme poverty and deprivation that is present in the North is even more shocking when you compare it to the affluent and prosperous South. Especially when you consider that it wasn’t that long ago that both were on equal footing. Both nations were equally devastated by World War 2. And the Korean war that followed left most of the peninsula in even worse shape.

But in the years since 1953 when the Korean War ended, South Korea has become a major world economic and technological power, and North Korea has become a place where starvation is common. No where else in the world is the difference between relatively equal nations, in terms of starting point and resources, so distinct. The effects of the dictatorial government of the North’s policies has been a complete disaster for the nation. Whereas the South’s policies have rebuilt and modernized the nation.

Jul 30 2009

Beers at the White House

Jamie Barrows

So today President Obama and the two people involved in the unfortunate arrest of the Harvard University Professor (Gates and Crowley) are going to sit down and have a beer together. The idea being that if they can spend a little time getting to know each other, they can put the whole incident behind them.

Now I’m not a huge supporter of our President, and I didn’t vote for him. The truth is, that I think many of his plans for our country are disasters in the making. And I haven’t seen a lot of the promised transparency that he promised during his campaign. But in this case, I think his plan is a really good idea. And I have to give him credit for it.

In my experience, a lot of the racial problems that people have are not caused by hate or true racism. Most of the time they are caused by a lack of knowledge about a person who is different. By a stereotyping of an entire group of people, because the person has limited or no contact with that people group. That isn’t to say that there are not true racists who are going hate no matter what. Those people exist and are a serious concern. But a lot of people have generally good intentions about others. And when they are confronted with the reality of their prejudices (in a real person rather than just on paper or by being told by others), will usually change their outlook and beliefs about that people group.

It was clear from the start, that the whole incident was a big mistake. A mistake caused by prejudices and resulting anger on both sides that quickly escalated. Which resulted in the poor actions on the part of the police officer. Both sides colored the confrontation with their own prejudices and expectations. The police officer saw a belligerent black man who refused to follow simple instructions during an investigation. And the professor saw a white overbearing police officer who was flaunting his authority and making demands of the professor in his own home. Both sides were wrong (though I tend to side a little more with the professor on this one). And yet neither side had bad intentions. The officer was investigating a possible break in, and the professor was just trying to enter his home.

And because of their good intentions, I think that Obama’s plan of getting them to sit down together will actually work. Not sure that beer was the best choice of drinks (alcohol and good judgement don’t usually mix), but the concept is still good. When they can both see and interact with each other in a casual atmosphere, then they can both realize that this whole thing was just a mistake that got out of hand. And maybe they will even become friends.

Jun 17 2009

The power of the social web

Jamie Barrows

I already posted this video in my twitter feed, but in light of the current happenings in Iran, I thought I would post it here as well. That way if you missed it in my twitter feed or if you don’t follow me on twitter you will still see it.
Watch this and you should get a better understanding of how powerful and revolutionary the social web (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Etc.) actually is.

This video really highlights why the social web is so disruptive and game changing for both governments and traditional news. The amazing thing is that you can see it happening right now with the Iran situation. If you really want to know what is going on in Iran, your best source for news is Twitter. And that news isn’t being generated by governments or by news organizations. It’s being generated by individuals who are directly involved.

May 19 2009

Thinking Critically

Jamie Barrows


Read this quote today and just had to repost it.

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
Terry Pratchett

May 13 2009

Reputation: You vs. The other you

Jamie Barrows

I read an article the other day on Scott Adam’s blog titled The Other Scott Adams” In case you don’t know, Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic. A comic that helps all of us office workers keep a little sanity. And ever since I found his blog, I’ve been enjoying his daily(ish) comments on society and current events.

So anyway, back to the article. The gist of it was that in this day and age, if you have a common name, your reputation ends up closely tied to the actions of the “other” you(s) that are out there. This isn’t really a new thing. Throughout the history you can watch the popularity of names rise and fall based on the actions of prominent people. After all, no one wants to be named after a mass murderer or even have themselves associated with one via their name. What makes today’s name associations different from those of the past, is the ease with which those associations can be found.

In the past, it was unlikely that someone(with the same name) else’s actions would ever be noticed by your friends, coworkers, and relatives unless they became famous/infamous for them. These days those other you’s are a simple Google search away. And as people search engines(which I mentioned in a previous post) become more common and better at finding details about individuals, those other people with your name are going to be noticed by you and your friends even more.

So try it. Google your name and see how many other you’s there are in the first two or three pages that come back. Unless you post a lot online under your own name, you will probably be surprised at how many other you’s there are in the first three pages. Now ask yourself, is it likely that people who don’t know you very well or are potential employers likely to be able to tell which of those “you’s” that come back are really you?

Feb 20 2009


Jamie Barrows

Found the following on the 22 words blog. I thought it was worth re-posting.

“I’m busy” is generally an acceptable excuse.
I think “I’m not busy and want to keep it that way” should be too.

Feb 9 2009


Jamie Barrows

The big stimulus bill that is supposed to fix all the economic problems with the US economy is currently being debated and worked through. And no matter what your view of economics is, and whether you think this will be good for the economy or bad for it, the bill will end up being passed in some form or another.

And more than likely it will be filled with clauses for special interests and pet projects of Congressmen and Senators from both parties. But that is the only way any large bills get passed anymore. So that isn’t anything new.

But as I see the politicians on TV and hear the arguments I can’t help remembering a quote I read recently.

“Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.”
Russell Baker

So my question is this. Is this really progress? Is it necessary? Will it work? I really and truly don’t have the answer or know what I really think is right. But this is a big issue.

Feb 2 2009

Third world myths

Jamie Barrows

Very interesting video on Western perceptions of both wealth and health in the third world.

Jan 27 2009

Sermon Critiques

Jamie Barrows


I read a rather interesting article on the blog, Stuff Christians Like. It was kind of tongue in cheek, but also serious at the the same time.

How often are we just listening to a sermon so that we can find ways to critique it? So that we can find “Spiritual” things to say about the sermon to our friends later?

The article listed a bunch of common phrases people use to criticize a sermon, along with a rather sarcastic definition of what the phrase means.

  1. I’m just not being fed.
    What a fantastic way to look as if you’re more spiritual than the pastor himself.
  2. That message was not meant for me.
    You are so generous to have sat there patiently while someone else that needed that sermon was able to receive it. What kindness.
  3. That didn’t feel like church.
    What a perfect smokescreen of vagueness. How can anyone argue with your feeling? What does that even mean? More organ? Less organ? Better lasers? No lasers?
  4. There wasn’t enough Bible in that for me. That felt like a business leadership book.
    What’s enough? No one knows, which is why this is such a gem.
  5. I’m not sure that sermon works in a postmodern world.
    I’m not even sure I know what the word “postmodern” means, but it’s fun to say. Few things make you look smarter than repeating this word. Repeatedly.

From the article: Critiquing the sermon at lunch.
by Prodigal John

The truth is that I’ve heard almost all of these phrases before, and sadly I think I may have even used one or two. Which made me think about how often I’ve criticized a sermon for no real reason other than that it made me sound more knowledgeable or more spiritual.

There is always a need for examining what is said and studying it for yourself. And you should never just assume that because the pastor said it, it has to be true. But if you are just critiquing and criticizing so that you can avoid having to deal with your own issues, or so that you can appear more spiritual than others, you need to get a handle on why you are in church in the first place.

We don’t go to church to look good, or to make ourselves feel good. We go to church to worship God and to learn about Him what He would have us do.