Most people will agree that it is good to understand the mechanical working of cars if you are going to drive one. It helps you to drive more safely, and if you break down somewhere you stand a chance of helping yourself out of a tough spot. When you go to the mechanic you will be able to avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous people.
It is no different with computers. If you learn to program computers it helps you to take advantage of them, and not the other way around. This is the real computer literacy; not the ability to operate a tablet or cell phone, or to know your way around the preferences or control panel of Windows or Mac OS. Many times I see people praising this kind of feature knowledge by young people. "Oh, young people are so smart. When I have a problem with my phone I ask my kids for help." We need to give them more than that, or else they may think more highly of themselves than they ought to.
So, what vehicle can we use to give computer literacy to the people? Computer programming is the critical thing because it gives the user a real understanding of computers. For the average person to attain programming skills we don't need a complicated enterprise grade programming language, which would frustrate more than enlighten people. BASIC was the engine for people to learn programming in the early days, and still could be if Windows, Mac and Linux would just include it. Easy programming languages are missing or hidden from the user, and this causes a very real harm.
Why don't people create their own software anymore? They don't feel the need for it. They can just buy what they need. While this is true, there are so many times when packaged software doesn't do exactly what is needed. There are also so many kinds of useful software that could be written that will not make it onto store shelves.
In fact they may even wonder why they should bother. They aren't encouraged to learn programming anymore like they once were. They don't know what they're missing if you ask me. Programming is a much better way to spend brain cells than watching TV or surfing the web. Personal computing was envisioned as a way to bring the power of the computer to the individual, a very empowering idea. Being limited to using prewritten applications is like being told that as an artist you're only allowed to paint by numbers.
So we need an easy way to start programming. It can be really hard to create software with the programming languages endorsed by the mainstream. We have gotten away from simpler languages like BASIC, perhaps under the assumption that more complexity is better, but good computing avoids needless complexity. Even with a language like Python there is too much to learn before you get results. The Raspberry Pi computer, a device popular in schools, is a strong device for many purposes but it is too complicated to be a foundation for teaching computing to K-12 or as a first programming tool for most adult beginners.
Computers don't come with an easy to use programming language anymore. This is SOOOO important. It used to be that when you turned the average computer on, the first thing it did was start BASIC. You could start programming immediately, and it was very easy to pick up. Nothing bad happened if you made a mistake, and it was fun!
People like to say that BASIC is a bad language for teaching programming. The early versions of BASIC do have their weak points, but newer versions of BASIC are very strong for students and end users. An entire industry of computer software came out of young people using computers that started up in BASIC programming mode.