From: Norman J. Jacknis (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Feb 08 2000 - 21:00:21 EST
>From Wired News, available online at:
Clinton: 'Internet in Every Hut'
11:00 a.m. 2.Feb.2000 PST
WASHINGTON -- President Clinton Wednesday unveiled a
multibillion-dollar plan to help poor Americans and minorities get
access to the Internet and make it as universal as the telephone.
Clinton's fiscal year 2001 budget proposal to Congress will include $2
billion in tax incentives over 10 years to encourage private sector
activities such as computer donations.
It will also propose some $380 million in grants to train new teachers
on the use of technology, expand home access to computers for
low-income families, and create technology centers in underserved
"Our big goal should be to make connection to the Internet as common
as connection to the telephone today," Clinton said.
He made the announcement aimed at bridging the "digital divide" in the
United States at Ballou High School after touring the computer
facilities and watching students demonstrate how to fix computers and
go online in the computer lab.
"There is still a big digital divide in this country, and it runs
through income first -- low-income families are far less likely to
have access to the Internet and computers. Also, for reasons we don't
entirely understand, there is a separate racial and ethnic component
to it," Clinton said.
"When we talk about bridging the digital divide we mean that ...
everybody ought to have access to a computer, everybody ought to have
access to the Internet and everybody ought to know how to use it,"
Clinton said, recounting stories of how people have prospered once
they were given access to computers.
Clinton listed closing the so-called "digital divide" as one of his
top priorities for his final year in office when he gave the State of
the Union address to the nation last week.
In December 1999, Clinton signed an executive memorandum to ensure
closing the digital divide will be a vital goal of the federal
government and he is due to tour depressed areas left out of the
explosion of Internet access this spring.
A Commerce Department study released in July 1999 showed a growing
divide between the percentage of whites and minorities, urban and
rural dwellers, and rich and poor who are connected to the Internet.
The study found 60 percent of households earning $75,000 or more had
Internet access, compared with less than 10 percent of households
earning less than $20,000. Whites were more likely to have Internet
access than blacks and Hispanics across all income levels.
The president's 2001 budget proposal called for $2 billion in tax
incentives over the next decade to encourage private corporations to
donate computers, sponsor community technology centers, and pay for
technology training for workers.
It would also earmark $150 million -- twice the current amount -- in
Department of Education grants to help train all new teachers entering
the work force to use technology effectively, plus $100 million to
create 1,000 technology centers in low-income urban and rural
The initiative would also set aside $50 million for a pilot program to
help more poor families buy computers for home use, and $45 million to
promote innovative technological projects in poor and minority
The president will also ask Congress to approve using $25 million to
accelerate private sector development of broadband networks in
underserved and rural communities, and $10 million to train American
Indians for careers in information technology and other technical
While the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to be wary of any
proposals to boost government spending, Clinton's initiative is hinged
heavily on leveraging private sector investments through the use of
tax credits and grants.
Clinton appeared at the high school with America Online chief
executive Steve Case, who also spoke of the importance of helping make
sure computers and Internet access were accessible to all sectors of
Case said after the speech that the AOL Foundation had given away some
50,000 Internet accounts to help reach that goal. "We need to continue
to build all aspects of the medium," he said.
Clinton also noted that if children did not have access to computers
in school, it could hurt more in the future.
"Eventually this digital divide will deprive businesses of the workers
they need," he said. "It could also widen inequality in our society
between people based on who's connected and who's not."
Copyright 1999-2000 Reuters Limited.
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