Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Census--Your Government at Work

Last week I received a letter from Robert M. Groves, the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, advising me that I was about to receive a Census form in the mail. Mr. Groves cautioned that I should fill it out and return it promptly, so that my community gets "its fair share of government funds."

I was a little taken aback, because when politicians and bureaucrats bandy around the term "fair share," it usually involves taking money from rich people and giving it to poor people--you know, redistribution of wealth--but this was different. This time they were talking about a "fair share of government funds." Government funds are the money they take from you and me and the guy across the street that they think is theirs. They dole it out again when some other politician wants "funding" or some other politician is looking for "an investment," but if you listen real close, you'll hear the sound of someone pulling your wallet out of your back pocket and taking most of your cash.

But anyhow, being the good citizen I am, and understanding that the Census is a constitutional undertaking, I vowed to comply. Then the Census form arrived.

Question # 1 asked how many people were staying at my dwelling as of April 1, 2010.

Seeing that it was still March, I had two choices. Either do as Mr. Groves asked, that is, answer the question and send the form back promptly, or wait until April 1st so I could answer the question honestly without having to try to predict the future.

Question # 2 said, in effect, "We know you lied when you answered Question # 1, so tell us the real number of people who live in your dwelling." Seriously. If you still have your Census form, check it out and let me know if I'm wrong.

Questions # 3 through # 10 asked if I'm Hispanic.

In case you're wondering, I've decided to wait until April 1st to send in my form. Sorry, Mr. Groves, but I could be fined for providing erroneous information. I won't know all the answers for sure until then, so you'll just have to be patient. Besides, sending it in on April Fools Day seems, somehow, so appropriate.


  1. The postcard was definitely a waste of money, but what's new about that? *sigh*

    The constitutional reason for the census isn't money; it's determining how many representatives you state gets in Congress.

  2. You and I know that, Kay. So, why did the bureaucrat bring up the "fair share" issue in the first place? And why does it matter whether or not I am Hispanic? Why does the Census Bureau need to know that? How could that possibly affect the number of representatives my state has?

  3. OMG! I got the same letter Haggis!! Of course, by now I've gotten my Census as well, and forgot about it until your blog reminder. So thanks I guess... but at least now, i get to check it to see if the questions are correct!

    Thanks for the chuckle haggis. :D

  4. You're welcome, Hinny. Let me know how many times you had to tell them whether or not you are Hispanic. :)

  5. My mother insisted on filling it out and mailing it today. I, too, was struck by the number of times they wanted to know whether or not I was Hispanic.

  6. ¿Tan cuánta gente usted tiene vida en su vivienda el 1 de abril? :D

  7. 나는 모른다. , 그녀가 그 상자를 어디에 표를 하는 것을 사절하는지 나는 나의 어머니를 나가 때때로 다른 곳에 살았다 표를 하도록 납득시키는 것을 시도했다, 그러나 때 나가 그녀에게 말할 것을 사절할.

  8. You misspelled 그러나 때 나가...

  9. Will you guys quit speaking Hispanic?

  10. I remember filling out one of those neighborhood surveys a lot of years back. They wanted to know my race, and had about fifty different categories covering every conceivable person on earth. Then there was a box for "other". Speculating on what "other" could possibly be (and, like you, I didn't see the relevance of the question to anything), I finally filled out that I was an extraterrestrial and my roommate was a werewolf. Someone from the Census bureau kept calling me for a while after that. I didn't answer and they finally gave up.
    My wife filled out ours, and she said the same thing about the first two questions. I'll have to ask her about 4-10.

  11. I just opened mine today to check. Question#2 is asking about "additional" people. Weird. Like I deliberately wouldn't count that family living under my steps. Don't they trust me?

  12. I too, will only answer Q # 1. What bothers me about the form are Q #'s 2 and 10. I know answers to Q's # 3 - 9 are available through other databases.

    Q #2 - "Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in question 1?" seems ambiguous.

    Who would be included in Q #2 that would not be included in Q #1, and what is this information being used for? I first thought the
    distinction had to do with "living here" vice "staying here", but the instructions for Q #1 includes "homeless person living or staying here".
    I would think someone would count babies and other relatives in Q #1 before homeless people. Is the purpose of this Q to collect stats on

    And Q #10, "Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?"; the 2010.census gov site states "This is another question we ask in order to ensure response accuracy and completeness and to contact respondents whose forms have missing or incomplete information."

    Whatever your response, how would it "ensure response accuracy and completeness", and wouldn't the contact info requested in Q #4, "What is your phone number?" satisfy "contact respondents whose forms have
    missing or incomplete information."? What exactly, is the intent of this question?

    Or, is it, along with Q #2, a way to alter figures to fit as-is, or to-be enumerations?

  13. Jon, I always kinda figured you were an extraterrestrial, but I couldn't get up the courage to ask you.

    Ferret, you ask of the government, "Don't they trust me?" The answer is obviously, "Hell, no."

    Wondering, I think the questions on the Census form are so convoluted that they must have been put together by a bureaucrat. Or possibly a bureaucrat with an agenda. The numbers will get spun any way the politicians want them to get spun. Thus it has always been.

  14. Thanks Haggis, that's what I've been thinking.