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Unreal apathy around Real ID Act

“…It will give the federal government long-sought control over the movements of Americans… Soon it will be impossible to obtain government services, travel domestically by hired car, intercity bus, train, or plane, enter a building, open a bank account, pay by check, drink at a pub, enroll in school, or obtain insurance without having your unique federal ID card scanned at the gate.”

Scary times ahead of us. I’ve been following the Real ID Act through Congress for a while via the Electronic Frontier Foundation (of which I’m a member, a proud member). Yesterday, it passed the Senate unanimously, as it was included by Republicans in Bush’s Iraq/Afghanistan/anti-terrorism military spending bill. I’m including it here to inform you, weary Internet traveler, of the latest in a series of egregious appropriations of individual liberty by post-9/11 jingoism. Today British tech news-site The Register posted the quick and informative commentary which I quoted above.

That brings me to one of my major qualms about my peer group: the ignorance of college students and grads have towards current events. Although awareness about the Real ID Act is just one example, it is hardly unique. Even more striking is that the Real ID Act threatens privacy and civil liberties, things with which most college students feel knowledgeable and concerned. Almost every time I bring up politics or social issues in conversation, I am given a response that is high on ideology and low on analysis of actual events. Amongst my friends, it is certainly a minority that keep up with current events, and those that do often make use of such sensational or incredible news sources as local television or news magazines. If not college students, then who in my generation find it important to stay informed of national and international news? As a form of social responsibility, what has displaced such knowledge? Or what has displaced social responsibility? Has work and the struggle to make ends meet simply become more time-consuming? That would be a sad result of social/cultural/economic progress. Perhaps this erosion is caused by the pressure people in my generation feel in climbing the social ladder; people spend their time working out, talking on the phone, going out, and shopping are all pursuits focused on increasing one’s social stature. Other possibilities are political disenfranchisement, or general social apathy. What has lessened the importance of current events to the educated individual?

Yesterday my father sent me this interesting article by L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten that addresses the notion that the end of newspapers is near, as suggested by the fact that print newspaper readership has declined by an astonishing 8% last year. He says only that newspapers will find a way to adapt to new technology. But I don’t know if it can adapt to society’s changing values. Do you?

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