“In 1790, it cost 1¢ per person to take the U.S. Census. In 1990, it was $10.45 per person.” This is information I gleaned from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, which is on my “library” shelf in the bathroom. That tidbit may be as worthless as the toilet tissue I use as a bookmark. But, it got me wondering what it costs to do the census these days? “And,” I thought, “why is Big Brother asking this information? What information is he asking? How come I have to fill out this census thingie-bob? Can I ignore it and make it go away?”
Bing.com (which I now prefer to Google) sent me to a site that had a bit different answer about the cost of the census. It seems that inflation has hit the Census Bureau, too. The difference in the answers for the prices of the older census (how do you pluralize that word?) is only pennies, but it is estimated that the 2010 census will cost a whopping $46.93 per person! Why?
The answer to part of that seemed obvious when I received a postcard from the Census Bureau telling me that I’m going to get a census form in the mail. Well, duh! Did they think I didn’t know that, after they continually interrupt my episodes of Judge Judy with commercials to tell me? Why did they waste money like that? Postcards and television commercials. If they cut the advertising out of the equation, I wonder how much that would save per person? But, that isn’t where all of the cost lies.
My sister is temporarily working for the Census Bureau, and she assured me that if I do not send my completed census form back, then a Census Taker will magically appear at my door. That Census Taker will return until I get off my butt and complete the doggone form. I cannot ignore it and make it go away. It is mandated in the Constitution and required by law to fill out the census forms! I’d better remember to fill out that form. I hate unexpected visitors when I am running around in my pajamas all day … and those Census Takers have to be paid with my tax dollars.
Those are three of the reasons that the Census seems to be expensive, and I don’t want to harp on government bureaucrats and their salaries. Let’s not even go there, because I don’t want to delete comments if people get ugly.
What is Big Brother asking? This year it is just 10 simple questions, and it is about who lives in the household, their ages, their sex, and their ethnicity. You can see the questions for the 2010 census before you get the questionnaire, but you can’t fill it out on-line. The Census Bureau also assures us that our information is confidential (unless somebody hacks their computer).
Why does the government want to know this stuff? Supposedly there is $400 billion dollars (taken from our back pockets) that gets allocated to communities for hospitals, roads and such based on our census information … and it affects the number of seats our areas have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Go to the Census Bureau website to read all the blather, plus some interesting tidbits of history about the census.
It doesn’t take much searching on-line to determine that there are a lot of people who are hot and bothered about the Census. If you are one of those, you can tell me, but be polite (pretty please). Personally, I have no problem with filling out the Census questionnaire. I figure it this way:
A long time ago, I was tracing my family history and found the Census records to be a valuable tool in finding ancestors I didn’t know I had. If a hundred years from now, a descendant of mine should discover my name in a Census record and get a thrill out of it, then it’s worth ten minutes of my time!