The Road to an Entertaining, Twittery Serfdom

Fun juxtaposition of page one stories in USA TODAY today. There’s the ominous one about government overtaking the private sector as the driving force in the U.S. economy, “Private wages fall in historic pay shift.”

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

But the dominant story on Page One is a more cheerful piece, “Twitter Power: Learning from ourselves, in real time.”

That Twitter has succeeded isn’t a shock; a time-pressed global culture was bound to pounce on the free service’s 140-character haiku format, and 114 million users have signed up to date, 40% of them Americans. What generates awe is the speed with which Twitter has taken a seat alongside Google and Facebook at the tech world’s grown-up table.

Once derided as a peddler of infantile missives (“My latte is cold!”), the service has revealed itself to be an accurate barometer of mass culture. Today, if something isn’t tweeted, did it happen?

“Twitter has become the world’s water cooler,” says Adam Ostrow, editor of the social media blog Mashable. “It’s a place where you can hear what millions are saying and feel, unbiased and in that moment.”

On the House floor this week is H.R. 4213, The American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act. The Washington Post comments in an editorial, “New spending plans belie Congress’s deficit worries.”

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