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No news=bad news.

No News = Bad News

In January, unemployment rose to 7.4 percent--up 0.2 percent from December. It was the second monthly increase in a row. Not to worry. According to White House flack Larry Speakes, the figure merely represents "end-of-the-year volatility.' Dan Rather alloted the news fifteen seconds. The New York Times featured it on page 42. Economists were calm. A Citicorp vice president quoted by The Times preferred to focus on the number of jobs that have been created. The increase in the number of the unemployed, he said, was caused by the fact that more people, especially women, were looking for new jobs than there were new jobs for them to find.

Anyone remember the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon race? Repeatedly, J.F.K. skewered the hapless Nixon with the economic failures of the Eisenhower Administration, much as two decades later, Reagan assaulted Carter and then Mondale for their mismanagement of the economy. According to the Kennedy indictment, growth was too slow in the 1950s and unemployment was "unacceptably' high. What was unacceptable in those naive days? The rate in December 1960 was 6.6 percent. Liberals, even the economists among them, were worried. They remembered that during the bad Eisenhower years, marred as they were by three mild recessions, unemployment fluctuated between 4 percent and 7 percent, a much higher range than in Western Europe and Japan or during the Truman Administration.

What's appalling is Reagan's recent success as the bearer of only moderately good economic tidings. The intellectual bankruptcy of mainstream Democratic politics was dramatized by Walter Mondale's failure to make full employment a credible promise in the last election. In recent issues, David M. Gordon has been articulating a strategy of renewal for the left. Full employment is one of those unifying goals that could energize a progressive coalition of bluecollar workers, women, blacks, Hispanics and even displaced middle managers.

We will know that the left is breathing normally and taking nourishment when The New York Times puts unemployment on the front page and Dan Rather gives the bad numbers two whole minutes.

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Title Annotation:the lack in interest in increased unemployment
Author:Lekachman, Robert
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Feb 16, 1985
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