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The solution to poverty, our president says, is technology. Huh?

Clinton’s Digital Disconnect
The Disinterested Pundit by Andy Dehnart

Previously in The Disinterested Pundit:
Same Old Charade
Discrimination Is OK ... When Votes Are at Stake
Convoluted Caucuses and MTV
Weighing the Polls

”Closing the digital divide is one of the most important things we could do that would have the quickest results in alleviating the kind of poverty which is inexcusable in the kind of economy we’re experiencing today.”
     President Clinton said that on Tuesday. In Chicago for Comdex Spring — the first time a president has addressed the technology industry en masse — he spoke about the “digital divide.” I was there, and while I had the honor of watching the president on a screen, not in person, I got the message. And I basically agreed and just waited for him to finish.
     But then I actually thought about it: The solution to poverty, he was saying, is technology.
     Now, I’m a technology freak: I work for a dot com, and I write for this and other online publications. I carry a Palm and get movie listings and every other piece of information I can online. And I agree completely that technology needs to reach beyond the upper crusts.
     But please: Poverty can be alleviated by giving technology to the less fortunate? I think not. Broadband doesn’t pay the electric bill or watch the kids while you’re at work. So what the hell was Clinton saying? What does it mean?
     Who knows? It’s politician-speak, the language of superlatives and adjectives, vagaries and elusiveness. Flip on C-SPAN or read transcripts of the State of the Union Address or just read quotes in the paper, and there it is.
     We expect that from our leaders. We want them to just make big blanket statements that sound good, so we won’t worry and we can rest assured that everything’s okay. Then we can go back to our lives and just relax, not really realizing or questioning the idiotic and all-too-blue-sky stuff they actually say.
     But that’s not always the case: A while back, when Al Gore said he said he “took the initiative in creating the Internet,” he was pounced upon. And rightly so: A more flagrant lie we’ve not heard since “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” While Gore did actually have some involvement — not godlike omnipotence, however — in the construction of the modern-day Internet, the dude didn’t create the Web or any other part of the Internet. So he lied; at best, he really stretched the truth. He deserved the ridicule.
     So why did the media and public jump on his ass while leaving President Clinton alone last Tuesday and the countless other times he’s said similar things? Why do we assault George W. Bush for his appearance at Bob Jones University and other campaign blunders but ignore his more frightening policy statements?
                                                  c o n t i n u e . . .

© April 20, 2000 — Ironminds
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