The digital divide not only refers to the gap in high-speed Internet access between the certain demographics, particularly low-income households andracial minorities, but also refers to imbalances in the resources and skills needed to effectivelyparticipate as a digital citizen.
In order to accomplish digital inclusion, states need tolook beyond simply investing in physical infrastructure. Low incomeindividuals and people of color, groups that are frequently disenfranchised inother parts of society, often have fewer opportunities to gain essentialdigital skills. Aside from being left out of the technological age,individuals without necessary digital skills may soon find themselvesunqualified for many employment opportunities. Mostworkforce professionals acknowledge the critical role that IT skills -- everythingfrom basic literacy to more dynamic “knowledge economy” skills -- play insuccessful job seeking. Today,according to Department of Labor statistics, over 80% of newjobs will require computer skills. Past studies have shown that there is a great mismatch between adultsentering the labor market and the technology skills that are required for work.
Along with high-speed Internet adoption, states need toaddress these issues of digitalempowerment and digital opportunity,including the need to provide essential work force training, funding community technology centers whereresidents can gain digital skills, and support for alternative media where theexcluded can have their voices heard in the digital civic debate. Technologyliteracy programs should focus on providing the necessary skills to bridge notonly the digital divide, but the social and economic divide in states,including employment skills, financial literacy, economic self-empowerment andhow to access civic information.
Core Policies To Help Increase Technology Literacy and Inclusion Policies:
As the Supreme Court marches to the Right, corporate interests continue
to thrive at the expense of state regulatory powers. "This has been a
very successful year for the business community," said Miguel Estrada,
a Washington appellate lawyer who represents many key corporate
interests before courts in Washington, D.C." This session at the U.S.
Supreme Court, as this Dispatch will highlight, had an almost
uniform tilt towards business versus state regulatory authority. In
other areas like election law, the tilt was against poor voters who
faced restrictions on their right to vote, though the term was a more
mixed bag on criminal justice and other issues before the Court.
Despite lots of noise at the federal level, families actually facing
foreclosure have had to depend on state and local leaders for
any of the real help they've received. And as a new ACORN
survey finds, many attorneys general have been heroes for
working families-- while others have failed completely to step up
during the crisis. Getting top A+ grades for action were
Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, Iowa's Tom Miller, Massachusetts
Martha Conkley, Minnesota's Lori Swanson, and New York's Andrew Cuomo.
In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US health care system 37th in the world despite spending more than any other country. In 2007, according to the US Census Bureau, the US ranked 42nd in life expectancy.
If you are a person of color, a low-wage worker, non-English speaking,
or live in a low-income community, the picture is much worse. For
instance, the life expectancy for African-Americans
is 73.3 years, five years shorter than it is for whites. For
African-American men, it is 69.8 years, just above averages in Iran and
Syria, but below Nicaragua and Morocco.
Absent a national health care
policy, states have found ways to expand the reach of Medicaid by
covering more low-income, senior and disabled people and expanding the
list of covered services. Because of state action, 58 million
Americans now have health coverage they would not otherwise possess.
To push back on the states, the Bush Administration put forward several new Medicaid regulations
last year that, if implemented, will shift the burden and costs to
states. This will result in reduced benefits for millions of Americans
unless already cash-strapped states find some way to pick up the slack
- to the tune of $50 billion over five years.
It's counter-intuitive, but many US not-for-profit hospitals have
bigger profits than their for-profit counterparts. Last week, a Wall Street Journalarticle discussed
the growth of profits in the not-for-profit hospital sector and the
welcome attention this is garnering from federal policymakers. As
reported, the combined net income of the 50 largest not-for-profit
hospitals across the US increased nearly eight-fold from 2001 to 2006
to a staggering $4.27 billion. 77% of the 2,033 not-for-profit
hospitals in the US routinely make money, compared with 61% of
In one more example of lax federal agencies being empowered to block
tougher state protection of consumers, the Supreme Court ruled
yesterday that states are barred from protecting consumers from faulty
medical devices, such as breast implants, if the Federal Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has already approved those devices.
States are facing hard budget times this year, with twenty states facing a combined budget shortfall
of at least $34 billion for 2009 -- and the President's proposed budget
would not only make them worse, but would disproportionately hurt many
of the most vulnerable populations in the country.
The statistics are shocking. The current mortgage crisis is expected to result in the foreclosure of 3 million homes. In Stockton, CA, one in every 27 homes has been hit by the foreclosure crisis. And, Countryside, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, just released
figures showing that foreclosures and late payments rose in December to
the highest on record. Calls to helplines by homeowners facing
foreclosure have skyrocketed. As a corollary, local animal shelters are seeing a sharp increase in intake due to owners having to surrender family pets when they lose their homes.
Given the experience of Senate filibusters against innovative policies proposed at the federal level, here at Progressive States we are inevitably cautious in our hopes based on Presidential candidate proposals.