From an Oct. 1 speech by Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, at the National Press Club:
As we . . . talk about closing the race and income gaps, we can't sit by and let a new divide be created. Everyone here knows or has seen a child who has become computer literate at an early age and watched as their knowledge just accelerated. At the same time, one looked at themselves or other older relatives, watched them stagnate because they feel awkward and uncomfortable at the computer. People are amused when their children are so much . . . more knowledgeable than they are. But if we allow a generation of middle-class children, children in suburban areas, to grow up whizzing from one computer to another, while a generation of poorer children stay computer illiterate, we will be sitting by as a new divide helps widen the race and income gap we are seeking to close.
. . . The question we face today is whether or not we will generate a wave of technologically literate workers who can meet the demands in an information economy or whether we will simply let the rewards go only to the few who have those skills. And if that does happen we will see increasingly widening inequality.
This is a significant challenge. Households with income over $75,000 are 20 times more likely to be connected to the Internet than families in the poorest quintile, and nine times more likely to have a computer. Black and Hispanic families are less than 40 percent as likely as white families to have access to the Internet at home.