Official figures omit many joblessThe old adage about...

LETTERS

July 15, 1996

Official figures omit many jobless

The old adage about there being lies, damn lies and statistics, regardless of attribution, is undeniable.

A good case in point is the way the major media keep reporting the official current unemployment statistics as 5.5 or 5.6 percent, as did The Sun in Jay Hancock's July 5 article about personal bankruptcies.

This permits politicians, economists and others to perpetuate the optimistic view of a ''healthy'' or ''relatively healthy'' economy, despite the well-known fact that the real unemployment rate is usually around 14 percent.

The reason the real rate is not reported is because the U.S. Labor Department does not include in its statistics the 5 million unemployed workers so discouraged they have given up seeking jobs, or the nearly 5 million part-time workers who need and want full-time jobs but can't find them.

And if you include the additional fact that some 18 percent of America's full-time workers earn less than the poverty wage, the notion of even a ''relatively'' healthy economy becomes ludicrous.

Indeed, the main point of Hancock's article is that the reason personal bankruptcies are soaring is because our ''relatively healthy'' economy is being fueled by people using credit cards as ''banks keep granting lines (of credit) to consumers of lesser and lesser means . . .''

A truly healthy economy would be driven by consumers with cash in their pockets, not plastic. But that would require a real unemployment rate of even less than the supposedly healthy figure of 5.6 percent.

In any case, the media would perform a great public service if from now on, when reporting unemployment statistics, they provide the real figures along with the official ones. Perhaps The Sun could set the precedent.

Howard Bluth

Baltimore

The woman who cuts down the bull

Just wanted you to know how my Women's Lib heart swelled with pride upon reading of the female bullfighter as she engages in that cretinous savagery.

9- Oh, baby, we have really come a long way!

Selma Fritz

Baltimore

Bob Dole is no centrist

In response to your June 9 editorial regarding Bob Dole's sudden "declaration of tolerance" on the abortion issue, it appears that you have missed the point.

I believe that he is trying to lull the pro-choice voter into believing that the Republican Party no longer wants to be as harsh on this most divisive issue. This is all nonsense.

The "pro-life amendment to ban all abortion" has not and will not change. This is nothing more than Bob Dole trying to appear as a centrist. He is listening to Nixon from the grave: run in the primaries as a conservative and run fast to the middle in the general election.

Bob Dole as president would outlaw abortion and aid the far right to enact all of the 137 goofy amendments to the Constitution they have so far proposed. The Republicans wish to intrude into our lives far more than any Democrat and wish to trivialize the Constitution.

Ronni L. Pearl

Baltimore

Price tag for student

I have to admit that when I first saw the June 27 headline, "State to give cash rewards to top schools," I thought it was a terrible idea.

But then my wife made me aware of what a boon this could be for our 11-year-old son, who consistently has excellent test scores and attendance. We've always realized that he would be an asset to any school. But now, according to the state Board of Education, that value has an added monetary dimension.

I now share the anticipation that parents of star high school athletes must feel as they await juicy offers from colleges for their talented offspring. Personally I am inclined to hold out for the middle school which offers taxi service.

Bob Jacobson

Baltimore

Phrase insulted elderly people

I have subscribed to The Sun for 35 years.

I am so surprised at Suzanne Loudermilk's reference to Baltimore County's elderly population as being in "God's waiting room,'' (June 9).

It is an unfortunate phrase. I recommend that a less insulting choice of words to describe the growing elderly citizenry be applied next time.

Sally O. Gallagher

Baltimore

Muslims in U.S. don't see nation as satanic

Richard Reeves's July 5 column ("God has 99 names,' and one is Allah") once again brought out the misperception that many Americans have about 6 million American Muslims. The perception that many Muslims see the American lifestyle as satanic could not be more inaccurate.

A recent survey indicates the ethnic distribution of American Muslims as 1.6 percent white Americans, 47 percent African Americans, 17 percent Arabs and Iranians and 24 percent Asians.

The somewhat different lifestyle of American Muslims is driven partly from these demographics and partly from the fact that, as a religious faith, modern Islam still recommends a clear set of dos and don'ts to its followers in their daily lives.

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