Too much shit going on to keep up

Don't know how I missed this interesting story on how an Indiana woman who adopted her lesbian partner's biological children must now pay child support after the split up. It's an interesting story in that it points up how same-sex couples are still locked into the same responsibilities that married heterosexual couples are locked into, but without the privileges heterosexuals enjoy. (Yes, I know that child support laws also apply to unmarried heterosexual couples--but staying unmarried is an option for heterosexual couples, as opposed to being mandated for same-sex couples.)

But that's not the real point of this post--the real point is to illustrate just how difficult it is to keep up with the news of the day, and with what's happening in the world. I'm a news junkie, aided in my junkiness by the fact that I don't currently have to work full-time. I get to spend an obscene amount of time sitting in front of my computer doing nothing but reading news and political commentary, and I still completely missed this article (and as a guy with a child and a lesbian ex-wife, you'd figure this kind of article would be right in my wheelhouse). I lucked into it really--I was looking at some diaries on Kos, was intrigued by the attitude taken by a diarist and clicked on her name to see what else she'd written, and this was about three stories down. Who has that kind of time? Certainly not any of the people in Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. Hell, I'd say that better than 95% of Americans don't have the time to keep up with even a modicum of the news that comes out in any given day, news that may affect them in some meaningful way.

It's made harder by the fact that most of what passes for news today is opinion--even the veneer of objectivity is gone now, as Greenwald's film Outfoxed showed so well. And while the PIPA studies released last year were informative, I don't think they went far enough. When they noted that Fox viewers were the least informed among television news viewers, they didn't go into detail about what shows those viewers were watching. They didn't ask if viewers were getting their "news" from Hannity or Hume or Shepherd Smith, or if instead they were getting it from the "news department." And this doesn't even get into the potential correlation between FNC viewers and Limbaugh, O'Reilley, Hannity, Savage or other right-wing radio listeners--that would be a terrific study to do, the linkage between being factually misinformed on a subject like the Iraq war and the prevalence of listening to right-wing talk radio.

And there's even more to it than that. Wingnuts like Limbaugh existed long before Limbaugh got popular, but they were derided as wingnuts--why? Partly because the mainline news media was a bit less complacent and tended to call out shills for what they were (unlike their current reaction in re the Gannonball), but also because the average worker had a bit more time to try to keep up, if he or she wanted to do so. One of the things about worker productivity that almost none of my friends know about is that the biggest reason US workers have made such supposed gains in productivity as compared to workers in the EU, for instance, is because we work more hours total. We don't have the six-weeks of vacation that the German worker does, but when calculating worker productivity, that's not taken into account. Sure, the US worker does more work per year than the German worker does--he has more time to do it in. When those differences are factored in, the differences in productivity are negligible.

But the powers that be want to keep Americans working their asses off, for multiple reasons. The first--and most important to my mind--is that the longer they work us, the less time we have to see that they're ripping us off, both in terms of our time and our energy (not to mention money). Another is that the more they keep us busting our collective asses, the more we have to depend on them and their spokespeople for information, and the less time and energy we have to try to ferret out information for ourselves. Still another is that the more they keep us busy trying to make it, the less time we have to combat them politically, intellectually and morally--it's hard to organize a boycott of Wal-mart if you're working 60 hours a week to pay the rent, after all.

I don't have any solutions to all of this, but I figure that recognition of the issues at hand is a good first step. I'm curious to hear what you folks have to say on it.

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