Thursday, March 11, 2010


We received our "Guess What? We're Going To Send You The Census Soon" letter yesterday. (How much does that mass mailing set us taxpayers back? How ridiculous.) And FIVE will be my answer.

The first question on the 2010 Census reads:

How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010? (taken from the online version of the form)

So, FIVE. There are five people who live in this house, up three from 10 years ago, who'd ever have imagined! And that is the only thing we're going to tell the Census, even if they come here and visit us again.

Actually, looking at Question 2, I suppose I'd be okay with marking "No Additional People" just to make sure they know that there really and truly are only five people here. Everything else, including name, sex, race, etc. we're leaving blank. I don't really care if they've asked this since 1790 (as you'll see if you go over there and look at the questionnaire).

According to the website referenced above:

Each question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country.

I'm totally opposed to the redistribution of that $400 BILLION (redistribution = taking from some and then giving back to others, "for the greater good" or "for the children" or for other reasons). It is wrong for them to take the money, even for worthy goals. So I am not going to help them determine anything along those lines. I'm just not.

Oh, looking more at the website, I have learned that we will probably be visited:

Do I have to talk to the census taker?

Yes. Your participation in the 2010 Census is vital and required by law, (Section 221, of Title 13 of the U.S. Code). However, rather than rely on criminal charges, the Census Bureau is very successful in getting participation by explaining the importance of the questions we ask and how the information benefits our communities.

So nice--they don't rely on criminal charges, because they're "successful" at "getting participation." You know why they're successful? Because most people don't even take half a second to question this at all.

We are so accustomed to following such rules--we're used to handing over all manner of information to the driver's license bureau and the car tag bureau. We sign up our kids for government schools and pay our taxes and take advantage of tax credits and are grateful for the money we're allowed to keep. We expect them to tell us which drugs are safe and which medical procedures we can have and which food is salmonella-free, because we've lost the ability to determine these things for ourselves.

You know what? I'd be happy if more people just took a few minutes to think about what they're doing when filling this information out. Even if they decide to provide it anyway. Just think for a moment about how much we have become dependent on the government. Think about how we are supposed to be grown adults, and how much of our lives are being determined, even in small ways, by other people who think they know better than we do how best to choose the Good for ourselves.

It may seem like a small thing--and it really is--but it's just one way I can say "No. This far, and no further." The more we all say this, in big and in small ways, the better to preserve what is left of our eroding freedoms.


Beth said...

One advantage of having paper surveys is you can write on the survey why you are not answering a particular question. 10 years ago I took the time to explain my objections to the various questions and no one ever bothered me for more information.
This time I may include a full page explanation as well.

Here's what you risk according to US Law Code: 13:CHAPTER 7:SUBCHAPTER II: § 221

Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.
(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no person shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.

It gets way more expensive if you are a business:

224. Failure to answer questions affecting companies, businesses, religious bodies, and other organizations; false answers

Whoever, being the owner, official, agent, person in charge, or assistant to the person in charge, of any company, business, institution, establishment, religious body, or organization of any nature whatsoever, neglects or refuses, when requested by the Secretary or other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof, to answer completely and correctly to the best of his knowledge all questions relating to his company, business, institution, establishment, religious body, or other organization, or to records or statistics in his official custody, contained on any census or other schedule or questionnaire prepared and submitted to him under the authority of this title, shall be fined not more than $500; and if he willfully gives a false answer to any such question, he shall be fined not more than $10,000.

Bill Brown said...

How ridiculous.

Actually, I'm pretty impressed with the thinking behind it. It's a rare bit of sanity in the federal government.

Hanah said...

According to that article Bill linked, you're costing taxpayers extra money if you refuse to comply and they have to send someone to your house. Jenn, you owe me $1.

Matthew said...

When I get to the question about race, I simply check "other" and then write in "human".

Snoopy from Secular Homeschool said...

I wonder what happens if they come to your house for a visit and you don't answer the door. I never answer the door unless it's someone who I expect because I made an appointment. I don't answer my house phone either. I've lived here 22 years so you'd think I would have would have been asked to fill one census form by now but I don't recall ever doing so. And I would have a problem answering all those intrusive questions. On the other hand, I did some genealogical research and the census information from last century and before was really helpful in my research. Not sure what I'm going to do this time around. I was thinking about fudging the answers like I do on marketing surveys (eh eh) but I might just do what Beth suggested and submit an explanation about my objections. I did think it was RIDICULOUS that we got that mailing. What a waste. But it's easy for them to spend that money when it doesn't belong to them in the first place, isn't it?

Dean Kriegel said...


I will take your lead. I received my letter yesterday.

Anonymous said...

The census letter was SO written for the least common denominator. How many times did it say "fair share"? Fill out the survey, so you get your fair share, so your community gets its fair share. Great. "Uh, duh, I want my fair share of other people's money." Sounds like Twentieth Century Motor Co. all over again.

It's interesting (and unfortunate in many ways) how individuals I know can sometimes see the fault with redistribution of wealth on a small scale but not a larger one.

Beth said...

Just came across this educational tool at the Bill of Rights Institute: US Census and Personal Liberty

Looks like a good jumping off spot for learning about the issue with kids.

christinemm said...

The census we received in 2000 was huge, I swear, 20 pages or more. I also received a huge one in 1990.

The census form we got yesterday hardly asks any information.

What irks me is they have the wrong city with my zip code and street.

I was mad about the letter that came last week that was very short but twice said to fill it out so our town can get "our fair share".

I resent that language "fair share". Let's remember the census is overseen by the White House now. This is the most socialistic thing I've ever heard about getting a "fair share".

christinemm said...

Oh I should have said. In 2009 I was visited by a census worker who said they had a paper list of addressed and needed to drive to the house to make sure it existed and knock on my door to ask if indeed this house here is the address on the list. I confirmed that.

And despite that fact the census had the wrong town on it. WTH?

This census seems to be yet another make-work project.

I hear they are having trouble getting census workers in my area and are paying $22 an hour for field workers. I briefly considered cashing in but decided not to. One local homeschool mom and her teen are each taking a census job.