“We can't move forward until you mail it back.”
That little slogan has been frustrating me now since I first heard it a couple months ago.
Surely you've heard or seen the Census commercials telling you that if you don't fill out your “10 questions in 10 minutes,” your child won't have a school next year and none of the potholes in your town will get fixed.
The Constitution mandates that the US government count all of the nation's residents every 10 years for the purpose of apportioning the House of Representatives and Electoral College. Basically, the more people in your city or state, the more influence you should have in Washington.
It's sound logic in this representative government we have. What's not sound is the thought that if you don't fill out your census form, little Billy won't have a school to go to next year. Not only is it not sound logic, it's actually disingenuous.
Their slogan should be something like, “Hey, paperwork sucks, but we gotta do it.”
The form asks your name, age, sex, race, and if you own or rent your home, among other things. While the questions don't necessarily infringe on your rights of privacy, they also aren't necessary for the purposes of “enumeration.” .
Whether you own or rent your home, you still get to vote. No matter your race, you still get to vote. So these questions are moot. Interestingly, the census does not ask whether you are a citizen of the United States, which is related to whether or not you can vote, so it is actually is pertinent to the number of representatives each state has.
While the Constitution mandates that the government must count us, it doesn't mandate that we have to give the survey takers our phone number, another question on the census.
Many people have come up with an idea to only fill out the first question, pertaining to the number of people that live in the home. A congresswoman from Minnesota says that's all she'll do, in fact. She could face a $5,000 fine for doing so, according to the Census Bureau.
I'm betting they're hoping on a lot of $5,000 fines so they can pay for their horribly atrocious commercials they've been airing – including one during the Super Bowl.
Now, look, I'm not saying don't fill out your census form. I've never been one to tell people what to do and I'm not going to start now. But I am saying don't be afraid to question it. Don't assume that the government knows what they're doing. And don't assume that they're benevolent.
That said, if you have a census worker show up at your door, don't hurl obscenities (or anything else) at them. Odds are they're rather be doing just about anything else, but there's not much else for them to do, so … census worker it is.
Look up Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution. Maybe print a copy out. Maybe mail it in with your form. Call your congressman and ask why the census form has nine more questions than it needs. Ask him or her if little Billy really won't have a school next year if you fill out the census wrong.
And if your congressman comes back with “We can't move forward until you mail it back,” remember that there's another form for you to fill out in November. And that one's really important.